FlyFish@ Atlantic Salmon Conclave FAQ's by Rod MacLeod
INTRODUCTION... Last year the first ever FF@ Atlantic Salmon Conclave was held on the Margaree River in Cape Breton Nova Scotia. There were 15 participants in total staying at Cajun Cedar Log Cabins in Margaree Forks, and we fished from the 13th to the 19th of July. They participants were: (province or State in brackets) Rod MacLeod (NS) Myles Robar (NS) Derek Tay (NS) Luis Nasim (PQ) Eric Gebauer (PQ, VA, CA) Trevor Thompson (ON) Bob Boudreau (NS) Russ Lavigne (VT) Russ Gelinas (ME) Matt Tilley (ME) Mike Madden (ME) John Drendel Jr. (PQ) John Drendel Sr. (AZ) Tom Drendel (AZ) Ken MacPhee (NB) We were fortunate to be hit by a hurricane on the second day of the Clave bringing many big fish into the River. The salmon seemed to outnumber the grilse 8:2. In total, our group landed 20 fish: 9 salmon and 11 grilse. Not bad considering most people didn't stay the entire week. 12 different prizes were awarded during the week, everything from a Diamonback Fly Rod (raffle), to a custom-tied shadow box classic Atlantic Salmon fly. And I couldn't forget the BIG SUPPER: mounds of lobster and snow crab, plus lots of BEvERages. ;-) This year's Clave will be held between the 19th of July through the 26th. We will be staying at Cajun Cedar Log Cabins again, and they're number is 902-248-2494. Talk to Sandy LeBlanc to make your reservations. A deposit is required, but if you give them your credit card number, they won't take any funds out, just hold the number in case of a cancellation. If you are interested in alternative accomodations, send me a note and I'll let you know what's available in the area. We also have our own listserv to promote the coordination of our planning. If you have any questions at all, they can be forwarded to the list. Criteria for being added to the list, is simply that you intend to make it to the next Conclave. WHAT'S A CONCLAVE? On the Flyfish@ list, groups of people get together once a year at some particular location to meet, fish and have a good time with fellow listmembers. It's a real thrill meeting people you've only known as email addresses. That's what conclaves are all about. WHY THE MARGAREE? There's a number of very good salmon rivers in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, but the advantage of the Margaree is it's a public River system. As such, it represents the most economical way of pursuing these fish -- there's no need to hire guides. Not to mention it has an excellent run of fish. As a bonus, there are nearby rivers which can also be accessed by the more adventuresome in the group. WHAT TYPE OF ROD SHOULD I BRING? Most people who fish for Atlantic Salmon in Atlantic Canada use nine foot single handed rods which use 8/9 weight lines. 8/9 weight means the rod casts 8 weight double taper lines, or 9 weight weight-forward lines. Popular brands are Sage, Loomis, and St. Croix. I only know one guy who uses a Spey rod, and even then he uses it sparingly. Some anglers like a 10 foot for 10 weight rod for bigger rivers, but usually only in big wind. I, myself, have a very inexpensive Mitchell rod which I bought two years ago. Its an 8 and a 1/2 foot 7/8 weight. It works just fine. I would not use a rod which wasn't at least a seven weight. You can go as low as 6 weight, but controlling a salmon at this point gets difficult. WHAT TYPE OF REEL SHOULD I USE? Any reel which can store a lot of backing plus your fly-line is sufficient. Most reels today have sophisticated drag systems (i.e. disc brakes/drag). If you have such a reel, great, if not, don't go and spend a fortune if this will be the only time you'll be fishing for this kind of sport. All you really have to do is make sure your reel can hold between 100-150 yards of backing plus your fly line. I have a Scientific Anglers System 2 (89). This is a great reel, ideal for Atlantic Salmon fishing with a single-handed rod. If you have one, or one like it, you're laughing. Steelhead set-ups are just fine in terms of rods and reels. WHAT FLYLINE SHOULD I USE? Given that we'll be fishing the Margaree in July, you'll need a floating line. But bring your sinking tip too, in case we get a big blast of water. Full sinks are not recommended. WHAT SHOULD THE LEADER BE? Nine foot leaders are standard. I tie my own leaders with blood knots and do so as: 18" of 25lb 18" of 20lb 12" of 15lb 12" of 12lb 12" of 10lb 12" of 8 lb 24" of 6lb (or even 4lb depending on water levels). Alternatively, Bryant Freeman tells me that most anglers on the Miramichi use the following leader: 3' of 10lb 7' or 8' of 8 or 6lb Finally, at most flyshops you can purchase knotless tapered leaders which can also be used. Just make sure your tippet is the right strength (or X value). But this section wouldn't be complete without mentioning Myles Robar's own special leader formula. Worked pretty well for each of his five salmon last time: 3 feet of 8 pound, 6 feet of 8 pound. No kidding. OKAY, WHAT FLIES DO I NEED? In Nova Scotia you are allowed to use un-weighted single or double hooked flies. No trebles. Here's some flies you shouldn't be without... (an excellent resource for Atlantic Salmon flies is Dick Stewart and Farrow Allen's book: Flies For Atlantic Salmon, which retails for about $20) wets: sizes: Mickey Finn 2, 4 White Muddler 6, 8, 10 Blue Charm 6, 8 Green Butt Black Bear 6, 8 September Blue 6, 8 Ross Special 6, 8 Orange Blossom Special 6, 8 Big Intervale Blue 6, 8 Green Butt Butterfly 4, 6 Orange Butt Butterfly 4, 6 Cossebooms 6, 8 Silver Cossebooms 6, 8 General Practitioner 2, 4 drys: sizes: Orange Hackle Black Bomber 2, 4 Red Hackle White Bomber 2, 4 Brown Hackle Bomber 2, 4 Yellow-tailed natural bug 4, 6 Green Machine 4, 6 If you need patterns for these, or other flies, just let me know and I'll forward them to you. GUIDES: As previously mentioned, you don't have to hire a guide in Nova Scotia to fish for Atlantic Salmon. However, it can be done and was at last year's Clave by Russ Lavigne. What do you know? -- he hooked his only fish while being guided by Robert Chaisson of Cheticamp. Robert's known as the "best" guide in Cape Breton, and I highly recommend him. If you were interested in finding out about his rates, call or write: Robert Chaisson P.O. Box 117 Cheticamp, Nova Scotia CANADA B0E 1H0 call: 902-224-3232, or 902-224-1199 WADERS: Chest waders (versus hip waders) are extremely popular among salmon anglers. However, during the summer months, hip waders may be more appropriate as water levels drop and the air temperatures rise. Featherweight waders are an excellent choice for July, and wet wading is an option. Felt soled boots are a must. Ones with studs are even better. LICENSES: A salmon license is needed to angle for Atlantic Salmon in Nova Scotia. A non-resident, 7-day salmon license (comes with 8 tags) costs: $42.80 CDN (or roughly $32.17 U.S.). A "general" license may be used to angle for all other sportfish (trout, smallmouth, etc.) and a 7-day non-resident one costs: $21.40 CDN. Licenses may be purchased at Strathdee's Fly shop in North East Margaree, or at one of several fly shops in the Halifax area. TAGS and RETAINING SALMON: In Nova Scotia an angler may retain a salmon (grilse) which measures less than 63 cm or 24.6" inches from the tip of its nose to the fork in its tail, on some Rivers*. Immediately after killing the grilse, a "tag" must be attached to the fish. The tag must remain attached to the fish until being prepared for consumption. An angler may use up to two tags (kill two grilse) in any one day, and up to eight tags (kill eight grilse) in one season. The tags are provided with your license. Any salmon caught over 63 cm must be returned to the water immediately. * This regulation changes from year to year. For example, it was not legal to retain a salmon on the Margaree last Summer, while it was allowed for the Fall. WEATHER Cape Breton (being exposed to the Gulf of St. Lawrence) can have variable weather. It could be that during our stay it will be 70-80F and clear each day. It could also be that some days are 50-60F, overcast, wet and windy. Heavy sweaters, rain coats, wool socks and felt-soled boots are a must while fishing. You may not use them, but should have them handy. TRANSPORTATION - BY AIR Air travel to Nova Scotia can be to Halifax Internation Airport, or the Sydney airport (in Cape Breton). Halifax International is about 20 minutes from my home -- arrangements can be made for me to pick you up, if needed. Same goes for Sydney. - BY ROAD The Trans Canada Highway will lead you to Cape Breton via mainland Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, etc. Once across the causway, you continue along the Trans Canada (Hwy #105) until you reach a place called Nyanza. Shortly thereafter, you will turn left onto the Cabot Trail which will lead you over Hunter's Mountain and into North East Margaree. FERRY SERVICE (FROM MAINE TO NOVA SCOTIA) There is a ferry service to Nova Scotia from Maine. The operator of the line is Prince of Fundy Cruise Lines. Their number is 1-800-742-6460 (I'm pretty sure this is the American exchange, if it doesn't work try 1-800-341-7540). The ferry service runs from the first week of May through to the end of October. It leaves Portland Maine each night at 9:00 pm and arrives in Yarmouth Nova Scotia at 9:00 am the next morning. Yarmouth is about a 3 - 4 hour drive on the #103 highway from Halifax, the capital. The cost is (in Canadian funds): $58 per adult $29 per child (ages 5 - 14 yrs, under 5 yrs is free) $80 per vehicle $20 to $60 for cabins (depending on the style you get) As you can see, it's not cheap. But then, it's about a 9 hour drive from Portland to Halifax. There's also another ferry which runs from Bar Harbour Me. to Yarmouth. I'm sure the same company operates the service, so if you were interested, you could ask them when you call them. WWW SITES OF INTEREST There's an excellent international currency convertor on the Web it's at: It's extremely helpful in figuring out what "X" number of Canadian dollars equals in American, and vice versa. And, you might check out: as they have some interesting Cape Breton-related information pages, especially the "Cape Breton Showcase" (you'll see it when you get there). The "Showcase" lists a number of places to stay, etc. That's about it for now . . . If you have any more questions, just let me know. Rod MacLeod Clavemeister, FF@ Atlantic Salmon Conclave(s) 1 Settle Street, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia CANADA, B2W 1M5 (902) 435-5160