Bass Fishing on Canada’s East Coast
One of the best parts of living in North America is the vast wilderness and variation in geography, allowing for more forms of the adventure than one can even think of. Canada, in particular, is one massive playground for outdoor adventure, and having been born in Nova Scotia and currently residing in British Columbia, I consider myself extremely lucky to have seen and experienced the East and West coasts, and lots in between.
Today I’m writing to provide some insight into the fishing on the East coast of Canada, with an emphasis on fishing the Nova Scotia waters for bass, in case you’re ever in the area and feel like casting!
Ten Mile Lake
Ten Mile Lake is a great spot with lots of daily catches, usually towards the larger variety for the province. According to the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the average length of smallmouth bass in the area is 13 inches, and only 28% of tournament-caught bass have been shorter than 12 inches. With no largemouth bass to compete with, smallmouth in Nova Scotia has one less competitor.
Smallmouth bass can be found all over this lake, but like any other lake, we would suggest homing in on some heavy cover, which there is lots of. Early in the season, you may have better luck in deeper water. As the water warms, they like to move towards their usual spawning locations, which in Ten Mile Lake, can be anywhere around boulders, branches, and stumps, or any other type of cover.
One of the more popular spots to fish for bass is Grand Lake, which is one of the larger and deeper lakes in the province. Located about 45 minutes outside of the province’s capital of Halifax, and only 15 minutes from the airport, it’s a pretty convenient spot. Earlier this month, a local Nova Scotian angler by the name of Bill Laurette caught a 43-inch striped bass, which weighed more than 13 kg (about 29 lbs). While a beast of a bass this size isn’t hauled in every day, or even every season, it’s definitely not unheard of, and Grand Lake is becoming increasingly popular for fishing striped bass. For those wondering, Bill says 30 inches is considered a “good size”, with 26.8 inches being the legal size to keep your catch.
There are two main challenges to fishing striped bass in Grand Lake. First, the striped bass is most commonly caught in the Fall, a time when lots of people are unlikely to be taking vacations out to the Maritimes. However, even if you aren’t there in peak striped bass season, you still have a chance to hook one, and there are also plenty of smallmouth, trout, pickerel, and perch in the lake as well. I’ve been a few times before I moved to BC and have caught plenty of smallmouths. Plus, the season for bass fishing is pretty long in Nova Scotia, running from April 1 to November 30, just make sure to have your fishing license on you at all times!
LaHave River System
The LaHave River system has a bit of everything, so it’s difficult to recommend only one spot, but that’s what can make it great. With an extremely diverse population of bass, the river will produce smaller bass, while the lakes typically yield larger hauls. Aside from smallmouth bass, commonly seen species in the area include sea-run trout, Atlantic salmon, American shad, and striped bass, although the latter is a bit rarer.
A decent number of sections along the rivers are fly fishing only, and there are some nice trout you can catch in the area. If you plan on fly fishing, just look for any signage about closures. Back in 2011, there were some anglers who looked like they were catching trout, but were intentionally reeling in salmon instead, which is banned on a few sections of the rivers in order to protect the numbers. After this was realized, fly fishing was temporarily banned on these sections altogether.
After Fishing – East Coast Dining
Having been born and raised in Nova Scotia, I can tell you that some of the best places to eat seafood are John’s Lunch (voted best fish & chips in Canada!), or the Mic Mac Tavern (excellent pan-fried haddock), both of which are on the Dartmouth side of the harbor. If you venture a little further out towards Eastern Passage, you will happen upon a small fishing village (can’t-miss it), with some great seafood that can’t get any fresher! If you’re looking for a drink, you won’t have a hard time, anywhere is good! Our picks for beer are Oland’s and Schooner (Schooner is also brewed by Olands). While it’s nothing fancy, it’s the great beer that you can only find in Nova Scotia, and the price is right!