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Fly Fishing on Cape Breton Island

Story by: James Forsey

I have been fishing my entire life. I learned the best fishing stories never include a fish. Casting a fly under a canopy of fall colours, camping under the stars of the Cape Breton Highlands, and maybe getting lucky enough to feel the pull of a large fish on your line, it does not get any better. It is a place where dreams of hooking “the big one” may come true. Cape Breton will afford you some of the best memories you could ever imagine; on and off the river. Fly Fishing in Cape Breton is that reset button we all need to push in our minds. It is here, fully stocked, and ready for you.


fly fishing in the river

The holy grail of fly fishing is the Atlantic Salmon. Anglers from all over the world come to Cape Breton for the opportunity to bring an Atlantic Salmon to hand. Although the best opportunities for salmon fishing are typically in September and October, salmon begin running up some of our rivers as early as late May and there are a great late/spring and summer salmon fishery. While having a guide is not necessary, they sure do make it easier to get a fish on the line. Robert Chiasson is a guide who can show you all of the best spots, flies, and techniques needed to land the ‘big one’.

fisher holds large fish under the water

The Margaree River, located in Inverness County, is the crown jewel of salmon fishing in Nova Scotia and is open from June 1st to October 31st. Anglers can also enjoy fall salmon runs in Middle River and Baddeck River in Victoria County during October. My hidden gem for salmon angling is the North River, which boasts a late spring/early summer and fall salmon run. The river is open from June 1st to July 14th, and then from September 1st to October 31st. The river is closed above the area known as “The Benches” which is well marked on river signage.

Fly Fisher casts off on Cape Breton Island

Local anglers love the Cheticamp River for its early Salmon Run, beautiful views and unique angling opportunities. Anglers will enjoy testing their casting skills to get their flies over Salmon in some of the river’s tight gorges and deep pools. The Cheticamp River is in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and therefore, requires a Park pass and seasonal salmon license. Gear restrictions on this river are limited to artificial fly and barbless hook.

Fly Fishing on Cape Breton Island

The Bras D’or Lake is a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve. It is the largest saltwater lake in Canada and boasts fly fishing opportunities year-round (there are some restrictions, consult regulations for details). Many of the freshwater streams flowing into the Bras D’or Lake boast large sea runs of speckled, brown and rainbow trout. The lake and the streams feeding the lake are known to produce large fish; mainly because of the large abundance of baitfish found in the hundreds of coves and estuaries surrounding the lake. Cape Breton also has a trout management area in the Cape Breton Highlands which is open year-round (see regulations for more details).

Looking for a guide on the rivers? Meet the passionate local guides who spends his days casting on Cape Breton Island!

Robert Chiasson – Atlantic Salmon flyfishing guide

Atlantic Salmon fly fishing guide on the famous Margaree River, as well as the Cheticamp River and other Cape Breton rivers on the Cabot Trail.

Daily rates and half-day rates, equipment supplied. Book your adventure today!

The Margaree River is only a short 20-minute drive from Inverness where you’ll find Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses, two of the top-ranked golf courses in the world.

Home: (902) 224-0499
Email: Robert Chiasson Guide >>
[email protected]

Be sure to check the Nova Scotia Angler’s Handbook for rules (regulations) that anglers need to follow when fishing in fresh water, as well as maps and an overview of the Inland Fisheries Division activities like research, outreach and funding programs.

James Forsey

James Forsey

James Forsey is an avid outdoorsman who grew up fishing, hiking and exploring every corner of Cape Breton. James and his wife, Erin, have two children and a rescue dog named Cleo. He is the Senior Probation Officer with the Department of Justice in Glace Bay and is an avid volunteer in his community. As a graduate of Cape Breton University, one of his major’s was in History; with a focus on Cape Breton history. Although he has traveled to many parts of the world, James’ favourite place to be is in Cape Breton. James’ passion for outdoor adventure is unrelenting. He is an avid fly fisherman who is passionate about conservation and protection of fish habitats. He is an avid hiker, camper and explorer who recently took up photography as a hobby. Whether it is fly fishing for Atlantic Salmon on the Margaree RIver, camping in Pollett’s Cove, or climbing cliffs to get the perfect view of the ocean, James is always looking for a new Cape Breton adventure. All combined, the only logical step was to create an Instagram account to showcase his favorite pastimes and stories of Cape Breton. He can be found on Instagram under @The_wandering_caper

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