February 25, 2015
Over 1,100 miles separate Montreal on the Saint Lawrence Seaway from Ivujivik on the Hudson Straight. At least 900 miles along that straight line stretch north of the last highway, into an angling wilderness of mind-blowing proportions.
Quebec isn't a place. It's a region. Stand anywhere in the province and it's difficult to fling a Dardevle without hitting water, and chances are good it will splash down on an awesome fishery.
Oddly enough, Arctic char can be found throughout Quebec, providing some of the southernmost fisheries anywhere for these extreme cold-water fish. Arctic char in spawning colors are exotic, the colorations rivaling those of fish from tropical coral reefs. Few if any species have higher Omega 3 levels. In southern Quebec, most populations are landlocked. Some of the largest specimens on earth are the anadromous versions that run from the sea to the rivers of northern Quebec. Twenty seven outfitters are prepared to take you up there, where polar bears and musk ox roam the tundra.
The Moisie River is regarded as one of the world's finest venues for Atlantic Salmon. It runs into the St. Lawrence from the north. Across the Seaway lies the inimitable Gaspe Peninsula, which is laced with fine salmon rivers. These include the pristine York River, where crystal flows give away her giant salmon even in the deeper pools. The Gaspe is a wonderland of pristine riffles surrounded by emerald forests and gorgeous low-mountain scenery. The best time to visit with a fly rod tends to be mid June into early July, when salmon return fresh from the sea.
It doesn't get any better for "speckled trout." Brook trout run from the salt of James Bay, Hudson Bay, and Ungava Bay into rivers like the Broadback, the Canipiscau, the George, the Whale, and hundreds of streams rarely explored throughout the trout-filled wilderness of the northern tier. Nick Caras, author of Brook Trout, has brought many brookies over 10 pounds to net in rivers like the Broadback and inland waters like the famous Mistassini, which is surrounded, mid province, by trout-filled streams and rivers. A whopping 215 outfitters, located throughout Quebec, are prepared to guide you to the brook-trout trip of a lifetime.
The record laker taken on a fly from one camp on the Riviere Baleine (or Whale River) stands at 44 pounds. It was taken with a weighted fly on a floating line in about 8 feet of water. Giant lake trout can be found in the rivers of Northern Quebec all summer long, producing unparalleled fly fishing for gargantuans. The connected lakes are a paradise for big greys as well. In the cold, clear waters from Lake Manicouagan north to the Hudson Straight, lake trout in excess of 20 pounds can be found both shallow from spring through fall. In the southern tier of Quebec, expect to troll deep with spoons in summer. Over 100 outfitters can put you on lakers in the province — many of them a few hours from Montreal.
Also called ouananiche, landlocked salmon grow no bigger, anywhere on earth, than on the Canispiscau River in northern Quebec. A 12 pounder is just a nice one up there. Few fish jump higher or more often than an ouananiche. Thirty four outfitters in Quebec have camps or lodges on waters sporting landlocked salmon, many of them quite close to Montreal. Classic salmon flies work well, but streamers that incorporate a little marabou or fox hair tend to excel.
Start here, in Montreal, an island surrounded by the St Lawrence River. North America's most cosmopolitan city, home of the world's largest jazz festival, fireworks competitions, and much, much more. Spend an extra day exploring the oldest city on the continent and the awesome mounts on display at Muskies Canada, Montreal, before launching off in any direction for world-class angling opportunities.
Northern Quebec is bounded by the St. Lawrence Seaway, James Bay, Hudson Bay, the Hudson Straight, and Ungava Bay, where whale sightings are a daily occurrence. Up here, herds of caribou and solitary moose often punctuate the beauty of time spent on the water.
Awesome fishing for big toothies extends from the the southern border of Quebec well into the northern tier of the province. Over 165 outfitters have sites and access on thousands of waters known for producing big pike. Some of the biggest are taken from Lake Manicouagan and Lake Gouin in the central region of the province each year, but dozens of lakes and reservoirs commonly produce fish of 20 pounds or better. Pike populations are exploding right now in the St. Lawrence River as well, with many of those fish in the upper teens.
Quebec Is known for unique landscapes and gorgeous vistas. Sea shores, mountains, hills, valleys, vast reservoirs, tundra wildlife, and wild rivers describe the diverse scenery of this vast province. (Photos from Caniapiscau River and Whale River).
Lake Memphremagog stretches south from Quebec into New York and Vermont. It made several In-Fisherman "Ten Best" lists for smallmouth fishing worldwide. The St. Lawrence River is a smallmouth wonderland. "Every stream, lake, and river from Montreal to Sept Iles offers great smallmouth fishing," says Siegfreid Gagnon. "This is where I grew up. Some of these fisheries are now catch-and-release, where 5-pound trophies have become common." Forty one outfitters have operations on smallmouth waters in Quebec, while hundreds if not thousands of other drive-to, do-it-yourself fisheries exist.
West-to-East across the southern tier of Quebec, great walleye fisheries are scattered like gems. Start with the Seaway, where giants of 10 pounds or better are common. To the West, Lake Ogascanan is an absolute walleye factory. A little East, Lake Cabonga in the Reserve LaVerendrye is a "walleye paradise" according to Siegfreid Gagnon of the Ministry of Tourism. Lake Gouin, Lac St. Jean, and thousands of other waters entertain exceptional walleye fishing in Quebec. Almost 150 outfitters are situated on prime walleye waters in the province.
Montreal was founded in 1642 and is easily the continent's oldest destination for trophy muskies on the St. Lawrence River. This most picturesque, historic, and romantic city in North America is the launching point for angling adventures unique in all the world.
Flowing northeast from Montreal, the famous Seaway is bordered on both sides by Quebec, flowing along the inimitable Gaspe Peninsula. The rivers that flow from it and the North Shore of the Seaway are among the finest Atlantic salmon venues anywhere on earth.
The St. Lawrence Seaway is home to monster walleyes, trophy smallmouth bass, panfish, carp, sturgeon, and awesome pike fishing. It harbors impressive runs of king salmon and steelhead. But Quebec is far, far more. The southern tier of the province is rife with sprawling parks, reservoirs, and natural lakes known for exceptional angling. Bass, walleye, pike, and trout fisheries abound.
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The brawling rivers of Quebec's northern tier are home to some of the finest sea-run brook trout fishing in the world. Inland, many of the same rivers provide world-class opportunities for landlocked salmon and trout. Massive lake trout haunt these rivers as well. It's a fly-fisherman's dream, yet very few areas are listed as flies only.
The topography here is unique from all of Canada and, for that matter, the world. Many rivers in northern Quebec broaden into natural lakes brimming with pike, lake trout, and walleyes, then narrow between gorgeous low mountains into class-five torrents (popular with kayakers) that harbor magnificent landlocked salmon and brookies. A five pounder doesn't raise many eyebrows here. Farther north, Arctic char fishing is unparalleled. Bring flies, hardware, or both.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, the Quebec Outfitters Federation (1-800-567-9009) has almost 400 members. The diversity of plans is impressive, including 5-star accommodations, American plans, semi American plans, canoe camping, wilderness drop-offs at outpost cabins, and wilderness camping. Parcs Quebec reserves only 20% of its wilderness camp sites for residents each year, meaning 80% are granted to non-residents.
Quebec loves anglers and loves to facilitate them. Quebec truly is another world, of beauty and opportunities unique onto itself. The productivity and vast diversity of habitats alone should place it high on every angler's bucket list.
Contact: Quebec Outfitters Federation.