This year at the end of May, my friend BR and I headed to southeastern Quebec to fish the Matapedia and Restigouche rivers for some of the biggest salmon that swim often mere hours out of salt water. We split our time between the two rivers, fishing with a guide, Rick, who we hire through the Motel Restigouche, where we stayed while fishing. Though the fish were in the rivers, people saw them from the bridge in the town of Matapedia each day, no one hooked any large salmon while we were fishing, including us.
The Matapedia is an amazing river. It flows to the south from Lac Matapedia in the Chic-choc Mountains at the base of the Gaspe Peninsula. The Matapedia is the largest tributary of the Restigouche River which forms the border of New Brunswick and Quebec. The Matapedia will run a hair cooler than the Restigouche in mid summer due to its course through wooden valley and canyons, as well as the cool natural lakes which provide a source to the river.
The Matapedia is a river with a rich history. There is a very famous (and expensive to fish) section of the Matapedia, known as Glen Emma in Sector 2. This canyon area of the river seems to attract good numbers of fish in June and early July. It was on this section of the Matapedia that the most famous of all atlantic salmon guides, Richard Adams, made his living during the summer. Adams guided exclusively on Glen Emma with a few other select guides. During the early season Richard Adams guided for Kelts and the early bight Salmon through The Motel Restigouche.
BR and I fished only the Restigouche on our first day of fishing (notes on which can be found on the Journal of the Restigouche). We had come to the rivers with the impression that we would mostly be fishing the Matapedia and that we would even be able to get up into the Glen Emma water but neither was the case. We fished a couple runs at the mouth of the Matapedia on our second morning before meeting Rick, Our Guide. The two runs were great to fish and I felt confidence with every cast, but staying consistent with our trip no fish was hooked. He fished the mouth of the river again over lunch after spending 4 hours fishing the same water that failed to produce the day before on the Restigouche. After lunch it was back to the Restigouche to check out the lower river.
The next morning, Our last day to fish, we finally got to spend some real time on the Matapedia. We started at St-Alexi about 5 mile up from the rivers mouth. The runs up there were great and we got some really good grabs, but no salmon. I landed a Trout that weighed a couple pounds and it took a Green Highlander, not full dress, but with married wings and JC eyes, but I skipped on alot of the veilings like the Wood Duck and Teal and the Indian crow, etc. It is still cool to have gotten a fish, be it a trout, on a fly like that.The day wore on us a bit as we again were coming to the end of a trip with out having hooked a salmon. Both BR and I have been skunked on trips before. Heck, last year I had 4 atlantic salmon rivers skunk me, as well as 4 steelhead rivers, and I was with BR last year as he got a skunk spray upon him in the Nez perce region. Getting skunked gets less upsetting with experience, but it still has a slight burn, especially when you imagine how great hooking a big fish feels.
I am planning to return to the Matapedia to fish. Possibly later this summer as I need to return to Quebec in August. The rivers were so beautiful, It would be sad to never see them again. Both the Matapedia and the Restigouche are huge rivers and they celebrate long casts. I fished a 15' Loomis with a Nextcast WinterAuthortity, a big cast combo I was fishing with 100' out of the guides cosistantly, the rivers are really that big. It is made for spey. Anyway, I like to always go back and beat the skunk that sprayed me.