September 25, 2019

New Brunswick Tidal Fishing

After seeing my friend Francois successfully catch both Shortnose AND Atlantic Sturgeon in one day on the Kennebecasis River in NB, I knew I had to plan a trip! Everything came together on the weekend of September 21st, when both Alex and I were able to get the Monday off. The plan was to drive down to my cottage Friday night, pick up the boat, and then drive through Maine on Saturday to get to NB. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my trailer registration so we had to make a 3 hour detour to avoid crossing the border. Friday evening and night would consist of a bit of saltwater fishing, and the rest of the weekend would be devoted to sturgeon fishing and other touristy stuff.

After a long drive, we finally made it to the coast and had about 1 hour of fishing time before the sun was supposed to go down. We made the best of it and caught some Pollock, Shorthorn Sculpin, and Atlantic Tomcod. The Pollock were the highlights and only lifers for us that evening :)


Next I tried scouring some tidepools for Lumpfish and maybe even a Clingfish. The tide had dropped enough to make the search worthwhile, but the targets were nowhere to be found! All I found were a couple of Threespined Stickleback.


After nighttime had fallen, we made our way to the third and final spot of the day: a pier where Francois had managed to catch a Wrymouth. We saw plenty of Mackerel and Squid, but, once again, the target was nowhere to be seen. I did manage to hook one new species, but it got snagged on a ladder halfway up the pier. Thus, I had to climb down into the darkness, untangle the rig, and successfully land my lifer White Hake!


The harrowing climb down the ladder ended our night and we headed to an epic free campsite right on a beach on the Bay of Fundy! It was dark when we arrived, but we woke up to this awesome view:


The only thing on the schedule for the new day was Sturgeon fishing, one of my favourite groups of fishes. We drove to the boat ramp I had marked down, put the boat in, and headed to the waypoints some friends had sent me. The water was shallow and weedy, not at all what I was used to for Sturgeon fishing. I was not confident in the area and decided that we should fish elsewhere, so we headed upriver to a known Sturgeon wintering hole.

This spot seemed much more promising; I was marking tons of fish on the graph! We began rigging our lines and casted out our first rigs while beginning on our second ones. While tying my second rig, I turned around and saw my first rod bent over! I fought the fish to the boat and saw that I had caught what looked like an Atlantic Sturgeon, one of the rarest fish I've ever seen. I sent out a couple messages and the ID was quickly confirmed, I had really landed a true mythical beast!



The adrenaline from that catch slowly wore off, and we returned to attentively watching our rigs. The mix of tidal action, current, and high winds made bite detection quite difficult. We decided that two of our rigs would need to be fished straight down and the other two would be held by each of us. Soon after, Alex felt some bites and reeled up her first American Eel! I was happy she finally got to get the full Eel slime experience :p


Needless to say, we spent the next 15 minutes or so scraping the slime off our hands. We then untangled her rig and got back to bottom fishing. It wasn't long before Alex noticed the rod behind me bouncing. I set the hook and fought up something that felt small; I figure it would be another Eel. After bring it up to the boat, I saw that it was another Sturgeon! The blunter snout made the ID obvious, I had caught a Shortnose Sturgeon :)


Now it was time for Alex to get her Sturgeon. Unfortunately, after this catch, the incoming tide picked up and brought tons of Tomcod with it. This meant that all of our rigs were devoured almost as soon as they hit the bottom (usually within 30 seconds). She caught one more Eel, a Yellow Perch, and dozens of Tomcod... but no Sturgeon :(

Tomcods #32566 and 32567
The sun started going down and we had to end our efforts before it became to dark to find our way back to the ramp. We spent the evening driving to the town of St-Martin and found an abandoned road to camp on. The next morning was our final bit of time out east, and we spent it exploring some nearby sea caves and enjoying the best seafood chowder I've ever had :)




September 04, 2019

Endgame

I meant to write this post after catching all but 10 of the 112 QC freshwater fish species, but I've been busy with a new job up north so here's a report for the final eight. Feel free to reach out if you think you can help me find any of these guys! Even the smallest piece of information could be the clue I'm missing. Most of the fish left are pretty rare, found far from my home, or aren't currently legal to target; but one day I hope to get all of them.

1. Atlantic Sturgeon EDIT: Caught September, 2019

The Atlantic Sturgeon is the largest of all QC fish that can be found in freshwater. They apparently spawn in certain areas around Quebec City, but I have yet to see any confirmed catches. The closest "targetable" population seems to be in New Brunswick, where they are an occasional by-catch while targeting Shortnose Sturgeon. That is where my buddy, Francois Guay, caught the beast pictured above!
I was able to finally land one of these mythical beasts in September 2019 after dragging my old boat all they way to New Brunswick. Picture of my trophy catch is above, definitely one of the coolest fish I've caught to date! For more info, check out my full report here.

2. Round Whitefish
Image Source: Roughfish
These cryptic salmonids have been tough to track down, but I recently came across a blog post detailing a potential targetable population in Vermont. I'll definitely keep you guys posted if that works out! Otherwise, it seems like they are mostly caught accidentally in the salmon rivers of Gaspésie.

3. Cutthroat Trout
Image Source: Connecticut Fly Angler
Apparently these Cutthroat Trout were stocked in a couple QC rivers back in the 60's or 70's, but I've only found rumours as to where they are, and I think it's likely that they have mostly died out. I haven't seen a single confirmed catch within the province so far, but maybe they still exist somewhere! The easiest solution will probably be for me to travel out west, but I'll still cling to the hopes that I may find them on the east coast for now. The fish pictured above was caught by my friend Rowan over at Connecticut Fly Angler.

4. Copper Redhorse
Image Source: Oceans and Fisheries Canada
These rare Redhorse are listed as endangered throughout the entirety of their very small range, so are not legal for the time being. Hopefully their population will rebuild and they will be de-listed one day so that they can enjoyed by all.

5. Spoonhead Sculpin

I have found very little info about these small Sculpins. As far as I know, no one has been able to catch one on hook and line and they aren't studied very often. I believe they are more of a lake-dwelling species that prefers deeper water of around 60', making them difficult to target. Apparently they are sometimes found in streams as well, but only out west, meaning the closest ones to me would be in Alberta.

6. Fourhorn Sculpin
Image Source: Roughfish
These guys seem to be pretty common where they are found. Unfortunately, they are only found in the Arctic Ocean. They are on the list of QC freshwater fish because there is a freshwater form that lives in the rivers of James Bay. I'm hoping to eventually do a trip up to Wemindji or Chisasibi to catch one! Or, if that fails, I may travel to far northern Sweden.

7. Deepwater Sculpin
Image Source: Justin Londer
This may be the most challenging freshwater fish to catch in QC. I say that because they are only a couple of inches long, and prefer water of depths over 200'. They have been sampled in a couple glacial lakes in the Outaouais region of QC, but are also found in some of the Great Lakes. Catching one will likely require many hours with a 4oz weight and a size 20 hook!

8. Grass Carp
Image Source: Connecticut Fly Angler
The Grass Carp was the most recent addition to the list of QC freshwater species. Only one specimen has been sampled within the province, so I doubt I'll be able to catch one here in the near future. I think I may have found the closest population down near Albany in New York, but I have yet to confirm if they are actually there. The picture above is yet another awesome catch by Rowan from Connecticut Fly Angler!

July 31, 2019

Quebec Green Sunfish!

After returning early from our trip down to Connecticut, Alex and I found ourselves with a spare day in the Eastern Townships region of QC. I figured it might be worth going to check out a creek where I had heard rumours of a population of Green Sunfish. This species is not supposed to be present in QC, but apparently has spread in the area because of aquarium releases and milder winters. I already had the Sunfish on my lifelist, but Alex did not. Besides, it's always cool to catch something new and your home province. We arrived to the beautiful creek seen below:


I dropped down my tanago rig and it didn't take long before I had my first bite! Unfortunately, it was just one of the ever-present Creek Chub.


Creek Chub aren't usually a good sign when it comes to multi-species fishing. Fortunately, I noticed some smaller fish in the margins, while the Chubs seemed to hold more in the main current. The smaller fish kept dropping off my tanago rig, so I switched to regular gear with a size 16 hook. In short order, I lifted up a Green Sunfish! I was honestly pretty surprised that the rumour turned out o be true.


After catching the first one, it became apparent that the creek was absolutely infested with them. All juveniles, I think the water may have been too small for larger individuals to make their way up. I handed the rod over to Alex who quickly lifted one up as well :)


After Alex had her lifer, I proceeded to explore more of the creek simply because I was enjoying the spot and I have a thing for catching small fish :p This further exploration yielded a cool Green Sunfish x Pumpkinseed hybrid as well as some Pumpkinseed, Common Shiners, and Fallfish.

Green Sunfish x Pumpkinseed
Common Shiner
Fallfish
Pumpkinseed

July 28, 2019

Connecticut Creeks and Surf

Alex and I decided to go for a quick 3 day trip down to Connecticut and eventually Cape Cod for a shot at a few new species and an excuse for a short summer road trip. We only had a few days, but also a relatively open itinerary with only one major target: a Redfin Pickerel! With that in mind, we devoted our entire first afternoon to searching for them. We actually met up with Rowan from Connecticut Fly Angler who was kind enough to guide us around his local stream.

Rowan doing battle with a big Snapping Turtle

He first brought us to a pool where Alex should have been able to catch her lifer Redbreast Sunfish. Unfortunately, none of those were around, but she did finally get her first Largemouth Bass (60 species later)!



We spent the next couple hours slowly working our way downstream, with me spooking and/or missing every Redfin in sight. They tended to be in surprisingly shallow water, sometimes only 2-3 inches, and spooked very readily. Rowan really knows his creek fishing well, and presented me with many opportunities to catch them, but I struggled to even get a reaction. One time, I was dangling my jig by some overhanging roots without paying attention, only to feel a bite and lift up a much-desired Pickerel that simply plopped off back into the water -_-.

Me spooking all the fish :p

In any case, we persevered, and in an open meadow portion of the stream, we started seeing more and more Redfins! I stayed low and made long casts downstream to avoid spooking the fish. After spending a good amount of time doing this, I finally saw a Redfin chase my lure back! It striked but missed! And continued to miss the lure over and over again four times in a row! On its fifth strike, the little jig disappeared and I quickly lifted out my prize! It landed on shore and unhooked itself, but luckily Rowan was there to catch it for me.

Finally!
That was about as exciting as it was going to get for me, I had been wanting this species ever since I started seriously lifelisting two years ago! Therefore, I gave my rod to Alex so she could try for one. She was unsuccessful but still managed another lifer: the Redbreast she missed at the pool earlier :)


After completing our time at the creek with Rowan, we said our goodbyes and the continued on our way south to the CT coast. I was going to attempt sight fishing some Sea Robins but a huge storm rolled in and pushed me off the water. We ended the day then and headed to our campsite for the night. The next day was more productive and yielded three new saltwater lifers for me: Black Sea Bass, Northern Puffer, and Scup! All on squid and a high-low rig.

Black Sea Bass
Northern Puffer
Scup
Those lifers pretty well encompassed the rest of the fishing for the trip, nothing new showed up afterwards but I was more than satisfied, I would have been with the Redfin alone!

June 20, 2019

Adirondack Adventure (Summer Suckers!)

Alex and I had time for one final adventure before I was going to be shipped back up to Nunavut for another month of great work. We decided on heading south to the Adirondacks for some hiking and a chance at a pretty rare fish. The weekend started with an early morning and the 5 hour drive to the mountains. We found a couple geocaches on the way and visited one of the 12 abandoned missile silos in the area. We also went for a short 1 hour hike to the top of Rocky Mountain and took some quick pictures before heading down and driving out to a very special lake...



We had to make quite a trek to get to said lake, the hike in was only 0.75 miles but we had to do 20-25 miles of dirt road with my car to get to that point. The road was in great condition except for the last few kilometers where even I was surprised by my car's abilities.



Enough beating around the bush, the reason we were heading to this remote lake was for a rare species of Sucker, the Summer Sucker! They can only be found in a handful of lakes high in the Adirondacks and have adapted to their mountain habitat. Namely, they spawn much later than regular White Suckers, in early summer believe it or not lol. Apparently, they have diverged enough to become their own species, the only species of fish endemic to NY.

After finally arriving at the lake, Alex brought a quiet splashing noise to my attention in the nearby brook. The Suckers were spawning! At that point, I knew they it would be hard to get a solid bite but I knew that our odds had just shot way up. Until this point, no one we knew had been able to successfully catch this species, despite many attempts. I quickly set up a basic split shot and worm rig and got to work tempting the fish. Eventually, one slurped up the nub of worm and I set the hook before it could spit it out like so many others had. I had caught my Summer Sucker, possibly one of the rarest fish I've ever caught!



Bugs were out!

After I caught my fish, it was Alex's turn. I re-baited the hook and she worked on the fish. The bugs were pretty bad so she wore her bug net which prevented her from seeing quite as clearly as I could (I removed mine to get the fish). That being said, after a solid effort, she lifted out her Sucker as well :) I believe I caught a female and she has a smaller, but prettier, male.



I can't believe we were lucky enough to catch these guys spawning, it has to be a pretty rare event. We left for home early, both satisfied with our catches.



June 17, 2019

River Redhorse!

I don't normally write posts about individual catches, but this one was special and we caught many other species during one awesome session near home in QC. I was with my friend Leo and it was one of his first times multi-species fishing, having only caught common gamefish in the past. We pulled up to the spot and noticed the water was a bit high and quite fast, I had my doubts but we casted our lines anyway.

It didn't take long to get the first bite! Leo pulled up his lifer Mooneye. Not long after, he also caught both Silver and Shorthead Redhorse, and I caught two big White Suckers. Bites were coming fast and we were having a pretty stellar day.



After catching a whole bunch of mixed species one after another, I set the hook into something bigger... much bigger. As I fought it into shore, I tried figuring what species it could be, maybe a Carp or a Catfish? It certainly had a stronger fight than anything else we caught that day. Once I had it near shore, I saw it was a Redhorse! In fact, it was my lifer River Redhorse, and right near home too :)


Not long after, Leo succeeded in getting a second one. I couldn't believe our luck, I had fished this spot a few times before with no luck, but now we had two of them!


After a while, the bite slowed down so we moved to another spot where Leo would have a shot at a Longnose Gar. There were plenty in the river but he couldn't get any to stay on the hook so we had to be satisfied with a bit of microfishing. Leo caught another handful of new species and I caught this cool Rosyface Shiner. Not a lifer but I don't see them too often.


June 14, 2019

Gaspésie Road Trip

Our road trip out to the Gaspésie peninsula did not yield many new species, but the breathtaking views made up for the lack of fish and I still think it's worth writing about. This was a shorter trip, Alex is working full-time now so she took a long weekend and we had a total of 3 days to complete a good 28 hours of driving and touring.

It started with a stop in Matane where I hoped to find some Lumpfish before we set up camp for the night. The Lumpfish were nowhere to be found but I did see plenty of Sand Lances and even managed to scoop one up by hand! I later managed to get one on hook, adding the American Sand Lance to my list :)


After that bit of fishing we set up the car for the night and went for a quick walk on the beach before going to bed. We woke up to a gorgeous view over the St-Lawrence gulf, happy to have chosen another great free camping spot.


No fish of interest were caught on our first full day out on the peninsula, but we did get some great hiking done and I finally saw my first Moose! It had been a running gag that I had driven across Canada and still had never seen a Moose until now :p Other than the ungulate sighting, we saw a ton of waterfalls during our hiking and ended the day by visiting an aquarium. Unfortunately, that aquarium was the closest I'd come to seeing a Lumpfish.



The visit to the aquarium pretty well summed up the day (other than some failed fishing attempts we won't mention), so we made camp at yet another beautiful stop on the side of the ocean. Day 2 was really the day of beautiful sights, The eastern portion of the peninsula is truly a spectacular drive with many great natural wonders. Other than the many viewpoints along the way, some of our favourite stops included Forillon, the Emerald River, and the Rocher Percé. Here's some of the pictures we took along the way:

Even looks good through my cracked windshield!
The "tip" of Quebec
The Emerald River
The classic Rocher Percé
The final day of the trip mainly consisted of completing the drive back home, but we did make a stop to do some fishing in St-Anne-des-Monts. At the pier, I finally managed to land a decent sized fish! This cool-looking Shorthorn Sculpin: