Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Below Then Above The Bridges Of Matapedia

I love fishing from a 26 foot or larger Gaspe Boat.  The secure feeling and ease of river placement makes the experience a real thrill. Your guide has the ability to point out exactly where the fish will be and you can cover a great deal of water while moving from pool to pool.

My first endeavor into this style of Salar angling came in 1985 on the Matapedia River in Quebec.  The river was not new to me but hiring a guide with a boat was.

The lower river was very different back then. What has happened over a short period of time is mainly the result of clear cut logging. When you remove the trees, sometimes within a short distance from the river bank, a number of bad things happen.  The major problem is that the amount of water, after a heavy rain, that rushes into the river flow is accelerated to the point that the hydrological effects are far greater than these rivers have ever naturally experienced.   The water in flow in harder bringing extra sediment.  The forest does not act as a sponge releasing the water slowly so the river is then subject to low and warm periods during late summer.  The extra sediment is carried down river and causes the lower stretches to fill in and widen.

Let's just say the lower pools of the Matapedia are not what they used to be. Some are completely gone and reside only in my memory.

During those days, Atlantic salmon were in a downward cycle.  The North Atlantic Oscillation was severely positive and the result was you could only catch and release one fish per day by law.  I met my guide and we started below the bridge within sight of where the Matapedia meets the Restigouche. By 10AM I hand tailed a twelve pound bright June salmon just down river after a few drops.  The problem now facing me was what am I going to do for the rest of the day.  I felt lost and needed to fish.

The next morning we road the boat up river to a pool just above the bridge in Ste. Alexis de Matapedia.  This morning was not going to end early and I chose to use an eight pound leader.  I don't understand the logic, but it is what I did.  On cast number four I received the jolt of my salmon life.  This pool is the place where the largest Matapedia Salmon was angled at fifty six pounds.  Now, I didn't have a fish of that size on my line but what I had was at least twenty five and more like thirty.  The first charge was up river to the right of the boat and the line was throwing a wake and splash that I had not experienced before.  It looked like a rooster tail behind a speed boat.  Then, a sudden burst of added acceleration and , SNAP!

I fished all the rest of that day and the next and the next without another take.  I fished hard and felt so stupid.  A world famous Matapedia guide I met many times, the late Richard Adams, would have been very upset with me for using anything lighter than twenty five pound test in June.  Had I not been so brash to think that this was an easy game and I could temp the fate of the river, I would have had a fish that would be most anglers top trophy.

Today the catch limit is two salmon released for the day on the Glenn Emma water.  Or two grilse and a salmon should the grilse come first. This is not the law. but is the chosen rule of sportsmen in Quebec.  Personally, I have had a number of three and four fish days in my life.  Mostly in New Brunswick where there is a four fish limit by law.   I have had far more zero fish days, just for the record.

So what is the point of this story?  I think it is that I should never take a fish for granted.  Treat every precious moment as if it could be your last and savor in what is, and forget about what might be.  Always do what is right..................


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