Fishing for beginners: Tips and equipment to learn this activity
Fishing | August 11, 2022
June 07, 2022
Fly fishing has been gaining in popularity in recent years, attracting new enthusiasts of all ages. Once you are well equipped, ask experienced anglers to help you find the best areas to fish and enjoy the most fruitful fishing. To make it easier, Mathieu Leonard, experienced fishing guide, fly fishing enthusiast and collaborator at Hooké, shares his 5 favourite destinations for the most beautiful fishing trips in Canada.
This article was written in collaboration with Mathieu Leonard from the Hooké team
In this article, you will learn more about the following Canadian fly fishing trip destinations:
The terrace region, in the Skeena River Valley in British Columbia, is recognized as a prime spot for anglers with views that will take your breath away. Fishing there is done year-round and there is a large variety of salmon to fish during summer. According to Matthieu Leonard, visiting this region during March and April is a good time to maximize your fishing trip. As the mountains surrounding this area are quite young, the topology of the area means that there are no pools; shallow rivers can therefore be travelled in flat-bottomed boats for good stability. You’ll find several types of salmonids, including the famous steelhead, a combative anadromous rainbow trout that makes two runs a year. Depending on the time of year, you’ll also find Cutthroat and Bull Trout in addition to the different types of Pacific salmon: Coho, Chinook, Chum, Sockeye and Pink. It is a wilderness paradise where abundant wildlife is found alongside unique panoramas. Mathieu Leonard has great memories of his trip there.
Continuing east, Mathieu Leonard takes you into Ontario, an hour’s drive from Toronto, on the Grand River, Upper Credit and Lower Credit rivers, where another type of steelhead in addition to brown trout can be found. These are beautiful rivers where the rainbow trout, introduced with European specimens, is now naturalized. The Saugreen, Beaver and Big Head Rivers are located about 3 hours from Toronto to Georgian Bay. The route is also worth the trip, if only for its scenery, but also because its rivers are home to, in addition to steelhead, rainbow trout, and brook trout. The fishing season runs from the end of April to the end of September, but in some areas, fishing is done year-round. In addition to their accessibility, these Ontario rivers have a great variety of salmonids and are perfect for fly fishing.
Leaving northern Ontario, the Eeyou Istchee James Bay region stands out for the vastness of its territory and the diversity of its aquatic wildlife. You can fish for speckled trout, walleye and pike by adapting your equipment according to the species. As for Mathieu Leonard, he takes pleasure in fishing for pike because of the way he uses 10 to 12 inch flies. Moreover, its role as a predator is predominant in the ecosystem; hence the importance of catch and release. The angler is also interested in the behaviour of the fish in order to use the best method to catch them. “Pike, for example, stay in a corner to search for prey. It also dispenses less calories”. Further north, we find the Arctic char, which originated in the sea during the ice age and is now indigenous. It changes colour and becomes flamboyant red during spawning which takes place in the fall, as for all salmonids. In some lakes, lake trout are also caught. Although a bottom feeder, lake trout can be caught on flies at the mouths of rivers and surface springs in the spring.
Rising in the Monts-Valin, the Sainte-Marguerite River is without a doubt one of the most picturesque and accessible salmon rivers in Quebec. Located north of the Fjord-du-Saguenay, it flows all the way to Tadoussac along Route 172, from where there is access to several fishing sites. You will find salmon as well as resident brook trout and blue trout, which Mathieu Leonard says is a rarity because it adds blue highlights to its fall coat during spawning. The topography of the area along the fjord gives the Sainte-Marguerite River a special feel that cannot be found anywhere else, giving rise to a hundred or so pools and areas conducive to aquatic biodiversity.
Originally from the Gaspé Peninsula, Mathieu Leonard remembers his countless fishing trips with his father on the rivers surrounding the Baie-des-Chaleurs. He also remembers the chronology surrounding these activities as well as the well-practiced logistics for dealing with the rivers Bonaventure, Cascapedia and Petite Cascapedia, as the ice melts and the snow falls in the Chic-Chocs. The fishing season begins with the Cascapedia River, whose history goes back to the British royalty and where fishing was controlled by a draw. Large salmon and tea-coloured water are seen in the river, which divides into two branches. The fishermen then tackled the Bonaventure River with its legendary clear water. Very popular, this river is well developed and remains an accessible and easy body of water for beginners, just like the Matane River; “it is a matter of prioritizing quality over quantity to enjoy the tranquility of the place”, shares Mathieu. To conclude your Gaspesian adventure, head for the Petite Cascapedia with its impressive turquoise waters and its less numerous salmon, but with excellent genetics. You will have plenty of choice in this region whose reputation is well established when it comes to fly fishing.
The experienced fisherman also reminds us that overfishing and climate change have affected the quantity of this resource. So, don’t forget to be respectful of the environment by letting nature rest in periods of low water levels and heat waves.
Have a good fishing season!