Gaspe fishing - mid July
Hi gang, Jim Corrigan here with a not-so-brief trip report from early-mid July on the three Gaspe-town rivers (Dartmouth, St. Jean, York).
We (Axel Larsen & I) fished eight days (Jul 7-14). There was no significant rain during our stay and the rivers were slightly low (St. Jean), LOW (York), and VERY low (Dartmouth). We fished under brilliant Gaspe skies for our first three days, then had mostly cloudy days (with spotty showers) for much of the balance of the trip. There was enough light to fish by 3:30 AM. We were on the water before 5AM on the last seven of our days, and got most of our hookups WELL before 7AM. The afternoons & evenings were slow. The air temperatures were sent directly from paradise: 23-25 Celsius in mid-afternoon, cooling down to 10-12 for great (but brief) sleeps at night. Water temps were fine on all rivers. There were ZERO bad wind days! The biting flies (ALL of the usual suspects) were in their glory – there was no way to avoid getting bitten!
We only won one day of water access through the 48hr draws for reserved pools, but we were extremely lucky getting ‘leftover’ reserved water in the 5PM ‘last chance’ Draws. Some very good Sectors were available in the 5PM draws. Our pre-season water reservations (2 days on Sector 2 Dartmouth – the Falls Sector) were a total bust. There was little flow and very low water levels on the Dartmouth. No fish were seen in Ladder Pool & we think that Axel walked across the middle of Tent Pool – we saw no fish anywhere in or below the tail of Ladder Pool. Axe clambered up to Gorge (Falls) Pool, which was full of fish, and fished it for a very short time. I puppied out on this mountain goat climb! My old felt soles, the vicious ledges and a weak will made me decide on discretion over what looked like a certain swim. After a couple of hours watching Sector 2 on Day 5, we bought open-water passes on the Dart for our two days on this river. We ate the $190.00 each in passes for two days on Sector 2. That’s salmon fishing! If rain had bumped the river during our trip, Sector 2 might have been the hottest Sector on any of the three Gaspe rivers.
We fished York open water on Day 1 (fish seen at Chute & Baillargeon Pools – nowhere else), and York 6 on Day 2 (no fish in tails of the slow water pools & nothing in Dexter). We saw 4-6 fish cruising the slow pools through the day and had no action in Sector 6. As the York fishing was quite slow, we changed our focus to the other rivers. We spent 4 of our 6 remaining days on the St. Jean (3 days in Sector 1, one day on Lady Gray in Sector 2). Wild Rose was fishing fantastically well – we spent most of 3 days on it. We had at least two hookups per day on this pool, and a couple at & in the run above Bluff Pool.
Our other two days were spent on (and at a rock pile below) Big Salmon Hole on the Dart. This was virtually the only pool on the Dart open waters that had any flow, so it was quite busy (in rotation for much of each day). It was tough going, but Axe & I both got hookups in or below the main pool.
There were mishaps and adventures! Axel was ‘tasted’ by a Lamprey in Cuve Pool! He felt several bumps behind his knee, and turned to see an UGLY (says Axe!), 2.5 foot thing slide up the ledge behind him. He said he nearly jumped into the depths when he saw it! We saw American eels, ruffed grouse, woodcock, deer, big hawks and salmon (of course). Axe nearly got the car stuck on a pool tour of the Madelaine (a gorgeous and BIG river). It took at least 5 tries to get up a steep, loose gravel slope at the canoe put-in above Sector 1.
I had a very tough trip for gear! One of my felt soles pulled back from the toe early in the trip. With daily use and no backup, it was too wet to re-glue, so I hobbled around on a bad boot for most of the week. My #1 fly line cracked badly about 30’ back from the leader end. The crack spread open on the core & the line was useless – I went to my backup. Finally, I trashed TWO rods in a half-day of fishing. The first died in the classic manner. I stepped on it while trying to release a grilse. My backup rod, which had seen little use in several years, experienced terminal ferrule lock when I tried to separate it at noon on the same day. Team tactics, dubious & weird techniques failed to budge it. I finally got it to move, only to discover that the finish on the male ferrule had turned with the female part, coming completely detached from the graphite on the male section. This was the only movement we ever got out of it, and teams of anglers and local strongmen could not get it apart. With the finish torn off the male end of the ferrule, the rod was pretty well done anyway. I broke it to get it in the car on our morning out.
Oh ya, my sciatic nerve flared up, and I busted my guts with a very powerful AI drug while dealing with my hip/back issues, I fell in while releasing a fish, and came as close as I ever want to come to filling my trousers on a tight-cheeked dash to the privy at Big Salmon Hole.
On the business end, Ann Smith is having a VERY good season! She helped us with pool choices, and gave us some useful and inspirational flies to try on the St. Jean. Inspirational??? I fished my own variant of a Roger’s Fancy (one of the flies that Ann had put in her gift pack to us). This fly produced FOUR hookups for me in Wild Rose over two days!!! We fished a number of pools along with Quebec Sporting guides and clients. Both guides and sports were friendly, informative and fun to fish with.
The ZEC Gaspe is demanding that each angler pick up their water passes in person. It looks like the ZEC has found a simple way to prevent reservations from being ‘transferred’ from Lottery Draw winners to other anglers. GREAT MOVE! The ZEC Gaspe should be congratulated for their decision on this matter!
We did VERY well for hookups! We had 15 solid connections in eight days on the water. I was very lucky this trip, bringing six fish to the net. Axel was snakebitten! He had seven solid hookups, so we were virtually even in moving fish. Unfortunately, he brought only one (great!) fish to the shore. Axe had pullouts and break-offs on rocks. A run of bad luck – it was one of those trips for him, but he got a bunch of great runs and jumps out of his hooked fish.
Oh ya – we released all netted fish.
I've tried to attach several photos from our trip, but I can't get past my technological limitations. When I try to add a jpeg, I get a strange box that asks for some sort of image text. Perhaps a more computer-savvy member can help/advise me to get a few pixies on the site. Thanks in advance! I'd like to show a couple of our great fish (35-36", deep, fresh and STRONG), and some shots of the unreal Gaspe salmon pools.
The fishing was not easy, but with good luck/choices on the pools, (or by working with a great experts like Ann Smith) one can have a very productive July trip on these fantastic rivers. And, there are no ‘bad days’ on the green Gaspe pools!