April 11, 2019
By Matt Straw
Quebec offers 1,500 miles of unique, world-class fishing opportunities where anglers can catch a variety of fish species, in abundance, in every direction. The landscape is unique from all of Canada and, for that matter, the world. It’s likely the best spot on the planet for Atlantic salmon and the Arctic char fishing is unparalleled. Massive lake trout are also a year-round option in many rivers and lakes. Walleye and smallmouth bass fishing are excellent and if toothy critters are your game, you already know trophy pike are everywhere in Quebec. Fishing opportunities are endless, here.
Quebec represents 17 percent of the land mass of Canada, making it the largest province in the country. Yet the population spread across this vast area is only about 8 million—less than New York City (which is 444 miles from the Quebec border). Over 2 million live in the two largest cities (Montreal and Quebec City) and over 75 percent—more than 6 million—live within 100 miles of the southern border. Those dynamics indicate that the amazing fisheries of Quebec receive a startling lack of fishing pressure.
The region of earth that is Quebec encompasses a wide range of environments. From the mixed deciduous forests of the south, to the boreal forests and tundra of the Arctic north, these vastly different climates each provide specialized habitat for a unique mix of aquatic life.
Quebec has been a destination for American anglers since before the Revolutionary War. Paul Revere came for the fishing over 250 years ago. Revere, whose famous midnight ride alerted American militia that “the British are coming!” came to Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula to battle magnificent salmon returning from the sea to spawn.
And why not? Quebec’s Atlantic salmon fishing remains among the very best in the world. According to Northern Québec Outfitters representative, Paul Ostiguy, “Average fish weigh 12 pounds, but fish over 20 are quite common. These are sea run Atlantic salmon—not landlocked. Fifty fish weeks for salmon are not uncommon on the Georges, Leaf, Delay, and Whale rivers—numbers difficult if not impossible to duplicate anywhere else in the world. The brook trout in these rivers are a mix of sea run and non-migratory, with very good numbers. And the resident lake trout can grow huge. These are, as of yet, largely unknown destinations offering world class fishing.”
“Arctic char are some of the toughest combatants you’ll ever encounter—another must for every angler. Like Quebec’s brookies, some char are landlocked, and some are anadromous, running up rivers from the salt to spawn, then returning back to the sea. Nunavik is a region seemingly born in an angler’s dream. Fishing there is the trip of a lifetime to one of the last truly unspoiled regions of the world, yet easily accessible from the United States by plane. A 2-hour flight from Montreal, followed by 30- to 45-minute flights by Twin Otters on wheels, brings you to the best Arctic char fishing in the world.
Conventional fishing gear can be used, though fly fishing is very popular. Anglers wade in the sea and cast to brook trout that average 3 to 5 pounds, with the occasional 8-pound specimen—along with the big, hard-fighting char. The same flies and lures often take both species, so you never know which will bite next.
The Gaspé Peninsula offers some unparalleled fishing for Atlantic salmon, with such rivers as the St. Jean, Matapedia, Grand Cascapedia, York and Dartmouth, drawing anglers from all over the globe. Spectacularly scenic highway 132 basically circumnavigates the Gaspé and crosses all those classic rivers right where they are about to enter the St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean.
Lac Mistassini, 400 miles north of Montreal, is the largest natural lake in Quebec by surface area. It can be reached with a vehicle, but it better be a tank because it’s a long, tough road. Mistassini feeds one of Quebec’s legendary brook-trout rivers, the Rupert, and is conversely known for giving up prodigious speckled trout. But the big lake is home to plenty of lakers over 20 pounds, and excellent pike and walleye fishing for a lake this far north. In fact, Mistassini is one of the best places to seek trophy northern pike in all of Quebec.
According to Ostiguy, “One morning on Mistassini with Cree guides I caught at least 50 walleyes,” he said. “Then, after lunch—six pike over 15 pounds came out of the same bay. And my friends all had similar success.”
Abundant wildlife like, seals, whales, belugas, and polar bears are daily occurrences. “Wildlife is the big bonus,” Ostiguy states. “The occasional sighting of a magnificent musk ox, caribou herd, or a pack of white wolves in sub-Arctic settings can be as exciting as the fishing. Seeing the Aurora Borealis—the northern lights—is almost a guarantee when skies remain clear.”
“As you can see, Quebec has a lot to offer for all budgets. What makes it so special is thousands of square miles of unspoiled wilderness and getting away from the rush of daily life,” Ostiguy explains. “But nowhere else in North America can you experience the cultural differences offered here—the French Canadian, Cree, and Inuit ways that make Quebec unique. Travelers that drive here can spend time in Montreal or Quebec City to take in the culture, history, and blue-ribbon restaurants.”
Quebec is a world class fishing destination, indeed, and there are a variety of plans available—including 5-star accommodations, American plans, semi American plans, remote cottage, wilderness drop-offs at outpost cabins, and wilderness camping. Quebec Outfitters can put you in the right hands. In fact, they can put you in the boat with a guide for any species mentioned in this article. For more information, visit Hunting, Fishing Quebec: www.hunting-fishing.quebec