We had a lovely summer holiday this year which included a 4-day stopover in Nova Scotia to spend time with a good friend and his wife who had emigrated there to work for a few years (note the Nova Scotia flag on the right – saltire with lion rampant vs the Scottish flag and banner above). Reg liked his fishing but, by his own admission, was no expert although he was determined to make the most of the opportunities that Nova Scotia offered. In the knowledge that my wife and I (reputed to have some modicum of fishing expertise) were coming to stay he had planned a trip to try to catch some Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis), locally known as Stripers.
So it was that we found ourselves on the banks of the Bay of Fundy (shown by the red dots below – same spot), near to Boot Island, which has one of the largest tidal ranges in the world.
We arrived just before high tide, a little later than planned as the Stripers, being predators, come right in with the tide chasing their favourite prey, a local fish called the Gaspereau (Alosa pseudoharengus) which run up the nearby Gaspereau River. In fact, the Stripers will chase them well upstream which remains tidal for some distance.
Reg had acquired some frozen Gaspereau to use as bait and so it was we found ourselves rigging up three hooks each, with a good-sized weight to cast out into the water as the tide started to stream out.
The numerous locals (about 14 of them) had been there for two hours and only one keeper sized fish (minimum size of 27”) had been caught in that time with a few smaller ones up to 12-14”. Reg and I casted out and almost immediately got some small bites but nothing seemed to be ‘self-hooking’ and a gentle strike seemed not to bear much fruit. But to be honest none of the locals were faring any better.
Unfortunately for Reg he got tangled and lost his tackle (no comments please!) and had to replace it with smaller hooks and smaller pieces of bait which did the trick and he immediately hooked and landed a Striper of around 10” – our first fish. I changed to a smaller piece of bait and almost immediately did the same to Reg’s delight – his guest had caught his first Striper albeit well below the keeper size. Another Striper of the same size soon followed and as the tide headed out at a rate of knots exposing more and more beach and rocks the number of locals dwindled leaving 6 of us fishing but to be honest only myself paying much attention.
There is always some degree of inevitability in fishing and so it was that I, focussed on the fishing felt a bit of a stronger tug, struck well and immediately declared that this one was a bit bigger. A good 10 minutes later I had landed a 27.5” (one of the locals had a measure) Striped Bass which we were about to return when our new-found friends suggested we might leave it with them instead. Of course we were delighted to do so and again politely refused the kind offer of a “suck on my weed” from one of the lady fishers who also declared her astonishment that in 14 years of fishing that spot she had never caught a fish as big yet I, a visitor of less than 2 hours fishing in Nova Scotia, had caught a keeper. Dare I say a different focus, and a clear one, was probably the difference.
Our wives duly returned from their excursion (we were in the vineyard region of Nova Scotia after all) and were duly impressed by the keeper.
And finally, the cultural history of the region was fascinating, and I can assure you that a trip to Nova Scotia (in summer) won’t be a disappointment – and you might spot one of these as we did.
As a footnote, I am delighted to tell you Reg got his tackle back after the tide receded 50m within an hour or so and we walked out and picked it up – what a dynamic fishing location.