The Bonaventure is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and crystal-clear waters, making it a unique Atlantic salmon fishing experience. I will have the chance to fish there this summer with my friend Mathieu Leonard and I thought it could be very interesting for both you and me to ask him a few questions to learn more about this mythical river!

Q: Hi Mathieu, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. First, how long have you been fishing the Bonaventure?

A: I've actually been spending my summers in Bonaventure since I was born, my earliest memories go way back. I remember several fishing trips with my father dating back to the 90s and I started fishing there on my own in the early 2000s. There weren't as many people on the river back then, let alone young ones!

Q: What makes the Bonaventure River so special to you?

A: It's the river where I learned salmon fishing and river navigation. I've done many canoe or kayak trips down it before joining my father to fish. When I was very young, we spent time as a family by the edge of a pool watching my grandfather, my father and their friends fish for salmon. It wasn't until later, as I grew older and saw other rivers outside of la Baie des Chaleurs, that I appreciated its beauty even more.

Q: Is there public pools or do you have to sign up for the draws?

A: The Bonaventure River has 3 vast public and accessible quality sectors. To avoid busier pools, there are preseason draws and draws 48 hours in advance for 5 lottery sectors. For more details, you can visit the ZEC Bonaventure website(

Q: What are the best times of the year to find salmon there?

A: The annual run starts in mid-June and peaks in early July depending on the year and water conditions. However, angler and other river user traffic also play a significant role in your river experience. The more anglers and boat descents passing through a pool, the lower your chances are and the less enjoyable the experience becomes. It's certainly the most beautiful river in Quebec but we're not the only ones who know it. So, this aspect should be taken into consideration when planning a trip. Holidays and construction weeks will obviously attract a lot of people to the river.

Q: Without necessarily revealing your secrets, what types of flies are most commonly used on the Bonaventure?

A: You can use all sorts of flies, from bright to dark colors. Since the river is clear, there's nothing like seeing a salmon rise to the surface to take a bomber (dry fly). It's definitely a reason why it's worth the effort and the trip. It's hard to describe that kind of moment; you just have to experience it in person to understand.

Q: What types of rod, reel and line are most suitable on this river?

A: Standard salmon fishing gear will do the job, a 9-foot single-handed rod with an 8-weight line is often used. When the water is high, some will switch to a two-handed rod but for the ultimate dry fly fishing experience, I prefer a slightly longer single-handed rod with a slower action, such as a medium-fast 10-foot #7 line(depending on the model).

Q: Do you have any suggestions for guides or lodges for people who would like to go explore this mythical river?

A: For a first time or just for the experience of canoeing for fishing, I recommend hiring a guide. It's the best way to maximize your experience and learn in a condensed manner how the river works. I personally guide part of the season during my vacations because I love it so much ( but there are several qualified guides accredited by the Bonaventure River ZEC. The best way is to contact them to find one, or there are different lodges/outfitters that also operate with all-inclusive packages such as Falls Gully Lodge and Camp Bonaventure.

You can find a map of the pools here!
Happy fishing to all, hoping to see you on the river!

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