The Freshwater Phil guide to Montreal shore fishing spots

Montreal's best shore fishing spots

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fishing salmon in the Napanee River




After hearing about it for a couple years, we finally headed West to the spawning salmon run in the Napanee river. I went to a local bait shop (Baker’s bait), picked up some roe sacks as well as some live minnows in case the rainbow trout showed up to feed on the salmon eggs. I finally arrived at Spring side park where the Chinook spawn at the foot of the falls. My kids and I were thrilled to see big salmon coming up with their back and tails splashing out of the water, as it is between 1-3 feet deep in most spots. I immediately started filming, but the camcorder batteries ran out after about 30 seconds, I had no spares in the tackle box.

I decided to attempt some rainbow trout downstream, why my 13 year old son targeted the salmon, sure enough, he had a nice one on the line after about an hour. I netted it a few minutes later, when we lifted it for some pictures, it “spawned” about half a liter of milk all over the place. Problem is that these fish die after spawning, and aren’t edible either as they are black and the flesh changes into “decay” mode, so apparently they aren’t any good to eat. When he caught another one a couple minutes later, I switched from trout mode to salmon mode, as all that was taking the minnows were perch. Sure enough, I caught one within a couple minutes, a 36 inch beauty, weighed 18 lbs. I must say that although all the fish came to inspect the roe sacks we threw at them, no of them bit, all were males, hooked trying to “spawn” on them. I stopped fishing for them, as I don’t see much sport in snagging fish for no reason (it’s also illegal), my sons caught another 4 over the next couple hours. I tried uselessly for trout for the rest of the day, just kept catching more perch, many had salmon roe in their throats.

We saw many teenagers wading and chasing the salmon with bare hooks, most were snagging them, some using nets and even bare hands. One of the locals claimed that we were all fishing illegally in a sanctuary (after he told me that he caught one earlier on a fly), but after checking the MNR web site it turns out that the sanctuary is only in April and the start of May when the walleye are in there. Maybe they should consider protecting the salmon too… Overall, I wasn’t thrilled about the conditions, although the salmon put up a decent fight despite being in only 1-3 feet of water. We also got some nice pictures of big fish (they were all between 11 - 18 lbs / 30 - 36 inches) , I’ll post them once I’ve developed the film.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please don't fish for Salmon during their spawning season. This is when they are at their weakest and can die from the simple stress of being caught. They only spawn once a year and it is the only chance they have to secure the Salmon for future generations.

Have a read at this article.

http://www.sacbee.com/378/story/1197426.html

Freshwater Phil said...

Anon,

I went down there with my kids to give it a shot on a tip from an old friend.

FYI, The season is OPEN for them, no bag limits either. Not saying that I find snagging spawning salmon much fun or that I plan to do it again, but you sound exactly like the I met while fishing there.

The Napanee River is only a sanctuary during the walleye spwan in April, apparently salmon aren't important enough for the MNR to protect them. We aren't bound to any California rules either...

Pierre Guignard said...

!Salmon come up river every year, they do only spawn once and die the life cycle of this fish is four years. They re an abused species.

mitch wing said...

they are not wild Salmon that is why we can fish for them they come from a fish pond and are add in the come from Quebec that the eggs to not grow in the Napanee River i grow up there and have never seen a baby salmon and i grow up eating them the males die and the eggs salmon egg their eggs.