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Young anglers with local guides on the Sainte-Anne River in Parc national de la Gaspésie between 1945 and 1955. Photo: Parc national de la Gaspésie/SÉPAQ

Salmon Fishing Now Accessible to All

Long reserved for members of private clubs, salmon fishing is now accessible to all in Gaspésie, an ideal region for angling since it is home to 22 crystal clear-salmon rivers, four of which are in the Matapédia Valley.

From the 19th to the 20th century: The reign of private fishing clubs

Thanks to the salmon-rich waters of the Matapédia, Patapédia, Causapscal and Restigouche rivers, the Matapedia Valley have been one of the most popular areas for salmon fishing for decades. In fact, salmon fishing has been part of the local culture and economy since the mid-1800s. The first catch using an artificial fly occurred at the confluence of the Matapédia and Restigouche rivers in 1864, according to Salmon Québec

From 1870 to 1930, private fishing clubs were set up along the rivers. The Matamajaw Salmon Club—now a heritage site—remains the best-known club in the Matapédia Valley. Fishing clubs mainly attracted clients from the United States, English Canada and Europe. Local fishing guides, who had the opportunity to catch fish as part of their work duties, developed valuable know-how. And despite privatization, families in the area fished salmon in the rivers to feed themselves.

In the 1970s, the Matapédia and Patapédia Rivers Wildlife Reserve was created to make salmon fishing accessible to everyone. Throughout the province of Québec, the government puts an end to private hunting and fishing clubs. This new era gave everyone the opportunity to participate fully in salmon fishing while ensuring that the knowledge, techniques and know-how surrounding this sport were passed on to new generations of anglers.

The 22 salmon rivers in Gaspésie attract anglers of all ages. This group met at the Pierre-à-Luc pool on the Matapédia River. Photo: Roger St-Laurent

Today: A sport accessible to all

Salmon fishing has had a profound influence on the way of life of the people who live in the Matapédia Valley, where you can find fishing guides and camps, artisan lure makers and a culinary tradition that showcases salmon. This is not surprising since the tradition of salmon fishing has been passed down from generation to generation in many families in this area. It is estimated that about 300 locals fish for Atlantic salmon in the Matapédia Valley every year; they are joined by thousands of visiting anglers.

Today, enthusiasts and beginners alike are delighted to fish for salmon on the internationally renowned rivers of Gaspésie. To make this sport even more accessible, introductory packages are offered by various local river management and sports fishing associations, including the Corporation de Gestion des Rivières Matapédia et Patapédia, the Société de Gestion de la Rivière Matane, the Association des Pêcheurs Sportifs de la Bonaventure and the Société de Gestion des Rivières de Gaspé.

In addition, given the importance of salmon fishing in Gaspésie, there are many salmon interpretation centres and other attractions focused on the history of salmon fishing in this area. In Causapscal, the Matamajaw Salmon Club tells the story of salmon fishing from yesterday to today, while the Site des Chutes et Marais, a salmon observation site, gives you the opportunity to observe salmon underwater via a giant screen; you can also visit a discovery centre to learn scientific facts about this species. The Musée de la Forêt et du Saumon (Sainte-Florence) will introduce you to legendary fishing guide Richard Adams, who took former U.S. president Jimmy Carter fishing on the Matapédia River. The Musée de la Rivière Cascapédia houses an Atlantic salmon interpretation centre as well as exhibitions focusing on the history of salmon fishing in this area.

To be in the loop and find out more Atlantic salmon fishing in Gaspésie, visit tourisme-gaspesie.com and plan your trip today! #gaspesie

Source: Pêche au saumon dans La Matapédia, Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec (patrimoine-culturel.gouv.qc.ca), Culture et Communications Québec.

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