HomeAbout UsOur LocationBusiness Hours, PoliciesBooks for SaleRiver Magic StoreFREE! River MapsFishing ConditionsNova Scotia Salmon Fly GalleryNova Scotia's St. Mary's RiverFly Tying Workshops, ContestClassic Salmon Fly GalleryBiographiesStillwater Slim on the Line ...Cordless ViseRiver Magic makes News!Links We Like

The Eastern SportFish Association

Two years ago the Eastern SportFish Association (ESA) was formed to give recreational anglers a strong and united voice regarding the sport fishery in eastern mainland Nova Scotia.


We saw that such an organization could likely have prevented some of our present fishery woes, for example the closure of parts of the St. Mary’s River. ESA is dedicated to seeing these issues resolved and to ensure that we will have a healthy and sustainable sport and native food fishery in future.


Our federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has failed us in their management of Atlantic salmon, adopting a wait-and-see strategy for the past two decades. DFO assessments indicate that it didn’t work. In addition, DFO’s lack of hatchery support since 1994 has impacted salmon populations in the Atlantic Provinces and removed crucial options for recovery strategies.


The few Atlantic salmon hatcheries that remain are no longer owned and operated by DFO, except for the “biodiversity facility” in Liverpool NS. The others are now abandoned or under provincial, private or community control. Let’s explore some success stories where hatcheries played a crucial role.


Newfoundland’s Exploits River, with 2011 salmon returns of over 40,000 spawners, is now a close second to New Brunswick’s top producing Miramichi River. Both systems rely on hatchery support.


About 30 years ago an accident at a mine near New Brunswick’s Nepisiguit River decimated its Atlantic salmon population. The mining company responsible joined with native and non-native volunteers and government resources to restore salmon to the system. Today their hatchery is managed and operated by a First Nations band, and thousands of Atlantic salmon again spawn in the Nepisiguit.


Closer to home, a community group saved Nova Scotia’s Margaree Hatchery that is now operated by our NS government’s Inland Fisheries department, along with our Fraser’s Mills Hatchery. Hatchery support maintains the Margaree’s salmon population at about 150% of the required number of spawners, enabling Native and recreational fishers to share the surplus.


Salmon hatchery programs can be utilized for different purposes. Some of these are:


·        To re-introduce salmon populations to streams where none remain


·        To supplement salmon populations that are too small to maintain reproductive stability


·        To supplement salmon populations that are cannot  support  native and recreational fisheries


·        To maintain salmon populations that are negatively impacted by predation or natural and man-made disasters


·        To monitor and control salmon population size


·        To promote biodiversity


·        To differentiate between wild and hatchery-reared salmon, enabling retention fisheries to favour hatchery-reared salmon


·        To complement other measures such as habitat improvement  in determining a recovery strategy


Looking at success stories elsewhere makes me a firm believer that if we’d had a salmon hatchery we’d still be fishing salmon on the St. Mary’s River. Guysborough County would still host legions of visitors each season like it used to and like Inverness County’s Margaree River still does, benefiting that rural community by $2.5 million in 2005, according to a DFO study. The Margaree also supports a native food fishery. In Guysborough County there currently are no salmon fisheries at all. We all lose here.


Speaking of the economic benefit of sport fishing, the DFO study I referred to above was updated in 2010, and a new report has been promised this spring. Meanwhile the Atlantic Salmon Federation publicly released a report last week entitled Economic Value of Wild Atlantic Salmon. The 2011 study was conducted by Gardner Pinfold Consulting Economists Ltd. of Halifax for the Atlantic Salmon Federation. The report concludes that wild Atlantic salmon were worth $255 million and supported 3,872 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs in eastern Canada in 2010. The firm’s study confirms that Canadians hold a special place in their hearts, and pocketbooks, for restoration of this iconic species. More information can be found at http://www.asf.ca/news.php?id=802&type=press


In summary, salmon fishing can be restored to Nova Scotia’s eastern shore, but only if we have the will to make it happen. ESA is currently developing a business plan for that purpose. That’s what ESA is all about. Memberships are available from ESA’s website




or from the River Magic fly fishing shop in Stillwater, NS.


Parker Wong tells me that his Pictou County fly tying group is double the size of last year’s, so they have added a second evening session to accommodate the large group. It’s great to see growing interest in the hobby.


This week’s fly is a hot wet fly for Atlantic salmon called the Orange Puppy. Designed by Newfoundland fly tyer and guide Rob Solo, it has become a standard offering on Newfoundland’s Lower Humber River. The fly was tied by Chris Williams of Sheet Harbour who once operated a fly shop in Newfoundland.


Orange Puppy


Hook:               River Magic 4XL Streamer Hook sizes 4 – 8.

Thread:           Black

Tag:                 Embossed silver tinsel

Tail:                 Orange hen hackle fibres

Body:               Black chenille

Throat:            Orange hen hackle fibres

Wing:               Grey squirrel tail 

Head:              Orange Ice Dub & black thread


Please send comments and suggestions to:



Please stay on the line …


Local Fly Tying Workshops

Antigonish -         Thursdays; Jan. 12, 19, 26 and Feb.2

Time: 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Location: People’s Place Library, Antigonish

Age Group: Under 16 - Equipment provided and no experience necessary.
(There will be a beginner’s session for adults later in Feb.)

Size: We can handle up to 12 tiers.
Contacts: Nick MacInnis
nicholas_macinnis@hotmail.com or

Dave MacNeil djmacneil@eastlink.ca

Stellarton -          Town Hall, upstairs Community Room 
ays, 6:30 – 9 pm

Parker Wong, 902-752-3720, 

Tools & materials are provided

Nightly fee (to cover materials cost) - Adults – $3.00, students

Stillwater -           River Magic Fly Shop, Saturdays 2 – 4 pm
Bill Carpan, 902-522-2840, www.rivermagic.ca
Sessions are free, materials are provided, bring fly tying tools if
                            you have them, otherwise just bring enthusiasm!