Newfoundland & Labrador, located on Canada’s far eastern fringe, truly is a different world unto itself. This ruggedly beautiful land, referred to as ‘The Rock’ long before Dwayne Johnson came along, is home to some of the country’s most interesting characters as well as copious moose, caribou, ptarmigan and—for those with a solid backbone—some of the best trout and Atlantic salmon fishing in entire the world.
Meet Newfie Fishing Experts
According to expert angler and editor of the famous Newfoundland Sportsman magazine Gord Follett, there are a few locales you need to visit when you’re “in the neighbourhood.” Follett is a true “Newfie” born and bred, at the helm of the province’s top hunting and fishing magazine for nearly 30-years, a publication I contributed to for many years, as well. Gord, along with his publisher, Dwight Blackwood, co-host a top-rated hunting and fishing television show by the same name, where they hunt and fish some of the island’s greatest hotspots including chosen trout and Atlantic salmon honey holes!
According to Follet, to catch quality Atlantic salmon consistently, Eagle River is the place most islanders like to go. “You may not hook any 30-pounders,” says Follett, “but the action is consistent during prime time, usually beginning in early-to-mid July.” Follet claims that for whatever reason, salmon on the Eagle are strong as hell and enjoy giving fishers a run for their money. “It could be its proximity to the ocean or the cold water temperatures, but even the Grilse (salmon under 25 inches) are powerful fighters and will take you into the backing,” Follet explains. “Salmon in the 10–15-pound range are not uncommon; occasionally 20-pounders are hooked. And if you do hook a biggie between 15 and 20 pounds, you’re in for the ride of your life,” he adds.
Gord recounted the time during the summer of 2009 when Newfoundland Sportsman cameraman John Dyke lashed into a ‘medium-sized’ fish between 15 and 18 pounds, and became physically and psychologically spent by the time he got the fish into the boat—45 minutes later. For monster Atlantic salmon, Gord says Flowers River Lodge located in Northern Labrador, is the spot, with fish up to 35 pounds, and 15–20-pounders are quite common. The lodge is positioned in an extremely remote part of Labrador and, during his dozen or more trips here over the years, Gord claims he’s never seen another angler on the river outside of lodge guests.
Newfoundland’s Humber River, says Follett, is easily one of the world’s most popular Atlantic salmon destinations, with fish in the 30–40-pound range hooked each year. My own memories of salmon fishing the Humber River can best be described as miraculous, and include an attempt to walk on water. (But that’s a story for another time.) At one particular spot on the river called Big Falls, located in a provincial park, Gord says visitors will sit on the rocks all day long to watch hundreds of leaping salmon make their way up the falls. Having seen it myself, it truly is a spectacular sight during the month of July.
Labrador Lake Trout
For sheer fish numbers, Follett suggests the Exploits River in Central Newfoundland. The runs of returning salmon are consistently over 30,000 each year with some runs as high as 40,000 fish. For lake trout, he says, most people head north to Labrador, where lakers in the 40–50-pound range are occasionally caught. Gord once hooked a lake trout during the filming of the show that dragged his 12-foot boat and three men against the current, before finally snapping his line. He has no idea how big the fish was but will never forget the battle.
Gord’s Black Bear Incident
Another time while fishing at Newfoundland’s Char Lake, a black bear decided he wanted Gord’s fish for a snack, and would not take no for an answer! Gord and TV co-host Dwight Blackwood kept shouting to scare the bruin off each time it came, but the bear got to within six feet and growled at them. Although still recuperating from knee surgery at the time, Gord says he could have beaten an Olympic champion long jumper as he lunged backwards to get out of the way. Dwight, I am told, was so concerned for his pal’s safety he could barely lift himself off the ground for several minutes from a fit of laughter. Those Newfies have a real crazy sense of humor!
Final Word on The Rock
According to Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism, besides world-class salmon and trout fishing, this region is steeped in history. This is where Vikings landed over 1,000 years ago, and also home to the oldest European settlement and one of the oldest cities in North America. With a relatively small population, Newfoundland and Labrador boasts some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Having spent time fishing and travelling the Rock myself, I can attest to this. This region is a land of rich history and natural wonders: stunning coastlines, breaching whales and icebergs and, of course, some of the best fishing anywhere. For more information and to see some of the fishing packages, visit Newfoundland-Labrador Tourism.