Secrets to salmon fishing in Nova Scotia

There are still many rivers in Nova Scotia that have salmon returning to them each year. There are only a few rivers that you are legally allowed to fish for salmon and there are no rivers that you are allowed to keep a salmon. Salmon fishing in Nova Scotia is strictly catch and release. If you hook a salmon this summer, please reel it in as fast as possible and then release it. Remember when the water is more than 20 C, a salmon will take a long time to recuperate.

After you unhook a salmon, hold them by the tail and cradle their belly. Point them into running water and do not pump them back and forth. They will stay in that position until they “catch their breath” so to speak. Keep a firm grip on their tail because they sometimes will give a little jerk before they are ready, just to test your grip. I had a salmon do that and discovered that they got out of my grip but could still not swim away. Luckily I was able to grab the tail and keep the fish in the current until it was fully recovered. Salmon are magnificent fish. Take the time needed to ensure that they survive.

The salmon fishing season opened in June and there is fishing on the Margaree River systems in Cape Breton. I was talking to some friends from the area and there is still snow melting in the Highlands — so that the water stays cooler. It is fly fishing only with barbless flies. Please keep in mind that the warmer the water, the smaller the fly. I would suggest a number six to eight size hooks. Patterns I use this time of year are the blue charm, rusty and silver rat, mickey finn and the undertaker. As the water cools down, I switch to larger flies and use purple and lime green marabous, general practioners and a few off-the-wall coloured flies that have no names.

Remember that local rivers along our shores now have pools and sections closed to protect salmon. You can check out the Anglers’ Handbook for more detailed information. Salmon fishing will start in several other rivers in around Oxford, Pictou, Antigonish and Cape Breton in September and October.

As for gear, I would suggest an eight-and-a-half or nine-foot rod that takes an eight or nine weight floating line. I use an eight-pound test leader about two-metres long.

If you have never fished salmon before, I would suggest you hire a guide that knows the river and have them show you how to access certain pools from the road and how to fish the pools. Knowledge of the river and how to fish it is the key to success.

It is bass tournament time of the year again! One of my personal favourite things to do over the summer. Lake Side has a tournament on June 23 at Wentworth Lake; Queens Ground Search and Rescue has a family bass tournament on June 24 at Ten Mile Lake starting at 8 a.m. and a group called Lunker Trunk is sponsoring some local evening tournaments, their website is

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