While the 2019 general sport-fishing season opened in most areas of Nova Scotia April 1, I know for many Pictou County anglers there are two other opening days they look forward to.
The first is this Monday, April 15. That’s when Barney’s, French and Sutherlands rivers, along with River John, open for angling. The second date is May 15, when the lower sections of the East and West rivers open for angling.
Most of the lakes and rivers I’ve seen are either open, or have some open water along the shore, so access to fishable water shouldn’t be a problem. Regardless of the weather, and fishing conditions, many Pictou County anglers will be going fishing. It takes more than ice, rain or snow to keep them from their sport.
Early season fishing places special demands on the angler, and it’s not just the unpredictable weather. Conditions on the water can vary greatly from year to year.
When I checked the 2019 regulations booklet which accompanied my licence, I didn’t see any changes to the regulations in Pictou County. However, I know many local anglers also fish in Antigonish County and there is a change this year on South River which includes a reduced bag limit and a size limit for trout in the section of South River from the old highway bridge down to the Williams Point Boundary of the West River Management Area and to the outflow of Antigonish Harbour. In this section anglers may retain three trout but only one of them may be over 35cm (13.8in) in length.
I have seen the benefits special trout management areas have had in different lakes and rivers in Nova Scotia and I believe this regulation change will have the same effect on the South River. Once again this year both resident and non-resident anglers can take advantage of a free fishing weekend, June 1 and 2. A second free weekend will be held next winter from Feb. 15 to 17, 2020. On these weekends, no sport-fishing licence is required but all seasons and bag limits apply and a licence will continue to be required if you are fishing for Atlantic salmon.
Other than that the regulations are the same as they were last year.
Once again this season anglers will be permitted to fish River John at night for the period from April 15 to Aug 31. Black Lake and West Branch Lake will be open all year for chain pickerel with a bag limit of 100 pickerel per day. Smallmouth bass anglers in Pictou County can target Lansdowne Lake and Middle River from April 1 to Sept. 30 with a bag limit of 25 bass a day.
I haven’t seen the striped bass regulations for the Gulf Region this year but I expect they will be available shortly. Anglers should check their regulations booklet which accompanies their 2019 sport-fishing licence before they head out to the water.
As always, safety should be your first priority. Wear a floatation device when in a boat or wading in high and fast water. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable fishing season this year.
Don MacLean is an outdoor writer and biologist who lives in Pictou County.