...text and photos thanks to Steve Luethi
Planning a bucket list trip can be a daunting task filled with anxiety and stress and might even deter a person from completing it to the point of crossing it off of your list. But thanks to Josh Nugent of Out Fly Fishing Outfitters and his plethora of hosted trips available the work is already done for you. It is an excellent alternative to planning a trip yourself. The hardest part is deciding which trip to embark on with OFF. For a lot of us a bucket list trip would be one for Atlantic Salmon in Eastern Canada. Josh has wanted to make one of these trips to the east coast available and affordable. So when Courtney, Taryn and myself were asked to accompany Josh on an exploratory trip out there it was a no brainier.
Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia is home to some of the best Atlantic Salmon fishing in the maritimes and scenery that even leave the locals speechless. The fishing season for salmon starts June 1st and goes on to October 31st but the fall portion of the season tends to see the biggest salmon move in to the rivers.
Our first day was great, after stopping by the "Tying Scotsman" fly shop to get our fishing licenses we were off with a friend of Josh's by the name of Chris. As a local guy Chris was generous enough to guide us and show us some of the water he grew up fishing with his grandad. We got to the river late in the morning and wasted no time rigging our rods and getting assigned runs to fish by Chris. As well as salmon, the rivers are also home to rainbow and brook trout with the odd brown trout found. Josh quickly found one of the trout by-catches in his first run and midway through my first run was able to hook the first salmon. The acrobatic fight of the 8-9lb silver hen was impressive and after a few photographs was safely released. Soon after Taryn hooked in to what Chris said was one of the biggest rainbows he's ever seen in that river. Funny thing was that this rainbow trout has sea lice on it, an east coast steelhead...? by the end of the day Courtney also found a rainbow while Josh caught a grilse (a salmon that has only spent one winter in the sea). The second day was tough with not one of us feeling the pull of a fish. The locals liked to remind us how hard it is to catch a salmon so we weren't too discouraged. Third day we started with a hike in to some beautiful waterfalls on a brook that's known for big brook trout. Afterwards went back out looking for salmon and I got hooked in to another beautiful silver hen in the first run. Later that day we sighted some salmon in a pool so Taryn and I sat on the other side of the river and directed Courtney where to swing her fly. After about a half dozen fly changes she hooked up to a nice buck on a black and purple steelhead intruder! That experience really opened our eyes to how tough the fish were and how they reacted to certain flies. Fourth and final day were similar to the rest. A lot of casting with little results but it's worth it for that one moment it all comes together. It did for Courtney, in the last hour of fishing when she caught a 12lb buck!
Some of the rivers you're able to use a 8-9 weight single handed rod but most of the time we were using 7-8wt Spey rods. If you're new to spey casting but want to take part in a trip like this then fear not as Out Fly Fishing Outfitters offers Spey casting lessons on a number of occasions through the spring to the fall. The set up I was using is a 12'6" 7wt Redington Chromer with a Redington Behemoth reel and 525gr Rio Skagit Max long which is available at TC Outitters fly shop for a very affordable price.
I now get the satisfaction of crossing this trip off of my bucket list as successfully completed and thanks to Josh it was easy. Contact him through either of his websites at www.calgarysflyshop.com or www.bowrivercanada.com if you're interested in a trip of a lifetime in either salt or freshwater.