By David-Alexandre Chabot


In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I don't get the chance to go fishing as much as I'd like. So, when my friend Mathieu Leonard said he had a couple of days open in June, I didn't hesitate for a second. All winter long, those dates were circled on my fridge, each day bringing a surge of anticipation and building up the eagerness to finally escape to the Bonaventure River.
The day was finally here. The 10-hour drive to Bonaventure felt like a journey back in time, away from the constant ping of notifications and the glare of screens. As soon as I arrived, you could feel it in the air: this is salmon country. The quaint town exuded a sense of excitement, with trucks adorned with fishing rods lining the streets, signalling the presence of fellow anglers who had heard the river's call.
My heart raced as I crossed the tiny bridge to our campsite. Fishermen dotted the banks, their lines slicing through the air in a rhythmic dance. The sight filled me with a sense of camaraderie and a touch of envy. Here, deep in the forest, there is no phone signal. Disconnecting from the digital world and immersing myself in the vast, natural landscape was refreshing. The absence of screens and the presence of nature's grandeur brought a sense of peace and freedom that is hard to find in everyday life.
Bonaventure. Wow. The name alone conjured images of pristine waters and elusive salmon. Winning the lottery to fish in one of the prime fishing areas for two consecutive days was a dream come true. The river stretched wide and wild, its beauty too vast to be captured in a photograph.
Day one. The first pool brought a couple of nibbles but no catches. Moving to the second pool, we encountered true giants. Mathieu hooked a massive one, only to have it break his line and escape—what we like to call a long-distance catch and release. Despite our best efforts, the monsters refused to bite.
The return to camp was an adventure in itself. A wrong turn led us down the worst roads imaginable but after two hours of navigating the rugged terrain, we finally made it back, collapsing into our beds close to midnight.
The next morning, we rose with the sun, eager to return to the pool where we had seen the enormous salmon. Go big or go home, they say. We tried every trick in the book: wet flies, dry flies, big ones, small ones, slow swings, fast swings... Nothing worked. The monsters refused to bite again.
One cheeky salmon jumped out of the water just ten feet away from me, taunting me with its freedom. My heart raced and I laughed at the absurdity of it all.
I left the Bonaventure River without catching my first salmon but the experience was priceless. The beauty of the river, the thrill of the chase and the camaraderie of fellow fishermen made it a trip to remember. As I drove away, I knew one thing for sure: I can't wait to return and try my luck again.

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