February 26, 2020

Saguenay Fjord Fishing - Round 5

This year was the 5th year of our annual Valentine's trip to the Saguenay Fjord in eastern QC. At this point, we have both iced most of the consistently-caught fish in the body of water, except for one. The Greenland Halibut has evaded all our attempts thus far, despite being caught by other fishermen all around us. It's a species of flatfish more often referred to as the Turbot, and it has the unusual particularity of spending most of it's time in the middle of the water column unlike all the other Flatfish.

Unfortunately, the ice this year has been especially bad due to the overly warm winter, so the usual ice villages hadn't all gone out. We decided to take this inconvenience as an opportunity to do a bit of scouting. We started Saturday out of Ste-Rose-du-Nord, a beautiful town right on the Fjord.

We had no idea what to expect, but were hoping that we'd at least get some bites over the next few hours. My line was the first to get hit, before I could even get my rig down to the bottom! Which isn't such an exciting statement when it takes a full 15min to get your 3oz spoon down. The fish turned out to be this possible Acadian Redfish, much less common in the Fjord than the prevalent Deepwater Redfish.

Acadian Redfish

Alex was the next to start getting bites, and apparently the fish all moved to her hole because I wouldn't get a hit for the rest of the afternoon. She ended up getting on a streak of small Deepwater Redfish brought up from the depths.

Deepwater Redfish (+Girlfriend)

After catching a few of the Redfish, the bite slowed down and we watched the people around us catch some fish. There didn't seem to be too much going on but one group landed a Skate and some of the unwatched tip-ups moved. Lines only need to be checked every 72 hours in these federal waters so people leave them out all day long. We also had a set line with half of a Mackerel lying on the bottom. I didn't really expect it to do much but a big bonus Cod or Halibut could be pretty cool. Eventually, Alex heard a bell and alerted me that the big fish rod was bouncing! We ran over and took turns bringing the fish up. It wasn't big but a lot of reeling is involved in 500+ feet of water, and we ended up landing this small Atlantic Cod.

Atlantic Cod

That would be the last fish of the afternoon and we enjoyed watching the sun set over the fjord before heading to our cabin at the big ice village in La Baie for the night. La Baie is the most popular spot on the Fjord and usually the fishing isn't so good... but it was our only option for a place to stay on the ice because of the poor conditions mentioned earlier. As expected, we didn't catch anything that night.

The plan for the next day was to head to one of the best spots for our target Halibut: Anse St-Jean. We woke up in the cabin and packed our gear before driving south to the Anse. It was a bit chilly in the early morning but it quickly warmed up to be the nicest weather we've ever experienced on this trip. It was sunny, 4C, and with no wind! We walked out onto the ice with high hopes and good spirits.

I decided it would be a good idea to take advantage of the warm weather by drilling multiple holes and spot-hopping to cover more water. Easier said than done when it takes a full 30min to bring up your line and then let it back down in a new hole. On my third hole, something hit the lure as I was letting it down. Knowing the Halibut would most likely be suspended, I excitedly set the hook and started bringing up the fish. Sure enough, a Greenland Halibut popped up at the hole, my first lifer of 2020!

Greenland Halibut

The pressure change didn't seem to have affected him so he was safely released. Alex was pretty jealous so I offered her my rod and hole, but she refused and valiantly kept fishing her rig in shallower water. I kept my eyes on her and, after about an hour, saw her get up and set the hook! I ran over and helped her land her lifer Turbot as well :)

Greenland Halibut

By the time I got back to my line, I noticed that it felt a bit heavier than usual so I set the hook and brought up one last bonus fish before we had to start heading home. It was another Deepwater Redfish but it was a nice one and a great way to round off the weekend :)

Deepwater Redfish