After a long winter of frozen rivers and lakes, local fishermen and women are dusting off their fishing rods and reels to back out to their favourite sports.
“It’s always a question as to what is on the other end of the line,” said Eric MacPherson, vice-president of the Pictou County Rivers Association.
The association is kicking off the sportfishing season this weekend at Trenton Park with a Fisherama beginning Saturday at 9 a.m. but there are plenty of other options out there to take in some fishing, he said.
“Fishing season is open now and continues until the end of September for trout.”
He said some of the hot fishing spots in the county are where the province stocks the lakes, such as in Gairloch and Trenton Park. He said there are also good fishing spots in the eastern end of the county where people have success early in the season.
“Anywhere there is a beaver dam is a good spot to fish,” he said, “or under any bridge that crosses a road.”
He said fish generally hang around beaver dams waiting for food to get caught while they get protection from overhead predators under bridges.
MacPherson couldn’t say if interest in sport fishing is growing in the province, but in Pictou County the association’s membership has increased to 38 members, up from about eight members two years ago.
He said more and people are interested in the conservation work that the rivers association does throughout the year and want to be involved. For example, the association has large majority of the schools in Pictou County participating in the Fish Friends program that allows school children to take in tanks of salmon eggs and watch them hatch, later releasing them back into local rivers.
He said association members angle for two or three salmon in the fall in local rivers and take the fish to the hatchery in Antigonish where the eggs are spawned and fertilized. The eggs are taken to classrooms where students take care of them, watch them hatch and release them back into the same rivers where the salmon originated.
“Salmon are genetically imprinted to return to their own water,” he said, adding that out of 250 eggs in each of the 13 tanks put into local schools, there is a good chance the program is making a difference in salmon population.
“If we get a one per cent return, we are doing really well,” he said. “We have been running this project since 1992 and we now have summer students that work for us, who had fish tanks in their classrooms. They remember the Fish Friends program so it is a full circle deal.”
In addition to the school program, the rivers association and Nova Scotia Inland Fisheries Division are currently conducting an assessment on the East River pertaining to the spring fishery for sea run speckled trout and brown trout.
The program’s objective is to estimate the population of sea run trout through a tagging study, evaluate the speckled trout population parameters and estimate the catch rate, angler activity and harvest through a creel survey.
The groups are asking anglers to report all tagged trout caught to Nova Scotia Inland Fisheries. Prizes will be awarded.
By the numbers
• Sportfishing industry generates $58 million annually
• More than 70,000 fishing licence sales have been issued in recent years.
• Sportfishing weekends are held June 6-7, 2015, and Feb. 13-15, 2016, to encourage beginners to try the sport by allowing anglers to fish without a licence.
Some things you need to know:
• Bag limits and seasons vary depending on the species and recreational fishing area. For example, there is a five fish limit for speckled trout, brown trout, lake trout and rainbow trout. Season takes place from April 1 to Sept. 30.
•No fishing licence is required to angle in tidal waters, however, seasons and bag limits are still in effect.
•No licence is required to fish in legally constructed private ponds or U-Fish operations, nor do seasons or bag limits apply. Permission to fish must be obtained by the owner.
•No licence is required for recreational dipnetting of smelt or gaspereau. Seasons and bag limits are in effect.
•No licence is required for residents and non-residents under the age of 16. The exception to this rule is for salmon.
•Residents 65 years and older may purchase a general fishing licence at a reduced rate.
More information about the regulations for recreational sport fishing can be found on the website: novascotia.ca/fish/sportfishing/