Two weeks ago, my friend Dave and I headed north for some late season Atlantic salmon fishing. We stopped at the Matapedia for a day and a half to test gear, knock some rust off, and see friends, as a prelude to a week on Grand Cascapedia.
We arrived to find the ZEC closed earlier than advertised, and the water levels low — very, very low. So, instead of fishing the first day, we drove the river, checking out pools. Dave had fished the river many times, and I only once, so he generously acted as a tour guide, pointing out lies which, due to the low water, were easy to spot.
We shacked up at Jim Rusher’s La Chappelle, a beauty of a spot on the banks of the Matapedia. I quickly came to find that his reputation is well earned; Jim has a heart of gold, a soft manner, and a kind of Santa Clause twinkle in his eye when remembering good fishing times. His wife Marna is wonderful and hilarious. One night, they lit up the fire pit high up on the banks of the river and we sat around drinking single malt, smoking cigars and telling stories. It’s a night I’ll remember fondly for years to come. I was only sorry to be late to the party; they’re selling the place, and so this was a kind of last hurrah. Wish I had met them both years before.
Given the water levels, the fishing was slow. We did see some nice tailing and jumping fish, including in one pool we had all to ourselves for the evening. But alas, despite dries and wets of all sizes and shapes, we couldn’t get one to take.
Still, I’ve enjoyed fishing the Matapedia. It’s a beautiful salmon river with classic water. Now that it’s largely catch and release, I’ve enjoyed going there — and having a lot of the water to myself. Let’s hope we see an increasing number of salmon return to these waters in years to come.