June 21-25, 2021: Lomond River Salmon Fishing Trip (102 Photos)
Having graduated the first classes of the Bassan "Fly Fishing Academy" I was invited to join him, his father Peter and Roger Butler on their annual salmon fishing trip to the Lomond River. This was the big leagues and would be the final exam in my newly found fly fishing hobby. It was an honour and I was excited to partake in this awesome adventure to the West Coast of our province. Larger fish and more plentiful fish frequent the numerous rivers of the West Coast.
It takes about eight hours to drive from Torbay to the Lomond which is located in Gros Morne National Park on the Great Northern Peninsula. We left town around 6am Monday morning which would put us at the camp around 2pm just in time for check in.
We rode in Roger and Bassan's vehicles and swapped up drivers periodically to give each other a rest. Other than gas, we only stopped for lunch at Tim Horton's in Grand Falls.
Once entering Gros Morne our first stop was at the park office to pick up our national park salmon licenses and tags which have to be used in addition to the normal salmon tags issued by DFO. We had already purchased our regular park entry passes online during the early bird sale earlier this year.
Our final destination was the Lomond River Cabins situated conveniently right on the river. Prime pools inside and outside the park boundary are a just short walk right from our doorstep and the neighbouring trailer park.
Bassan and his father would share one two bedroom cabin, while Roger and I shared another 2 bedroom cabin.
The cabins were quite spacious, well fitted out and very clean. We would be preparing our own meals all week and had each prepared one main supper meal that could easily be re-heated. The menu included moose chilli, moose lasagne, home made beans, a full cooked & sliced turkey and more. This would maximize our time on the river without blowing the budget on eating in restaurants.
We quickly got the vehicles unloaded, groceries packed away and hit the river just after 3pm.
This was obviously my first time on a major river and it was breathtakingly beautiful. Bassan was only too glad to take time and teach me how to fish the pools and getting the fly to present just right.
Bassan was the first of the group to place a set of tags not a half hour after setting foot on the river! Middle pool didn't fail to disappoint, neither did the trusted go to fly out here - a white wing blue charm.
It's important to note that currently inside the park boundary you are not allowed to high grade, you can only release a salmon if it's too big or too small to legally retain.
Roger also had a great first day hooking but losing three fish.
That evening we feasted on my homemade moose chilli and fresh rolls.
After a long day of driving and a late night I wasn't sure I would be up at the crack of dawn Tuesday morning, but 3:30am found me gearing up to meet Bassan down on the river.
It was definitely worth the effort as I hooked and landed my very first Salmon a dandy 58cm fish just after daybreak! I hooked this fish at Middle Pool on a green cosaboom. Bassan was once again a great help coaching me how to properly play the fish which was very much appreciated and a great learning experience.
I am not a fan of mosquitoes or other insects that believe I'm lunch. For this trip in addition to my Loop Gelias rain jacket I picked up this Loop Mygg 2.0 bug jacket. It's a dandy pull over style coat with a hood and zip up facial bug screen to keep the pests at bay. It's also treated with a permanent fly repellent (rated for 70 laundry cycles) that works to keep the bugs away just by wearing it so you don't need to have the screen zipped up all the time. It also works as a decent windbreaker, it's important to note this jacket is not waterproof. #notasponsor
To keep fishing without going all the way back to the cabin and loosing my spot on the river, we made rock pens for our catch. Alders were placed to keep sun off the fish and the rocks kept tight enough to keep eels out but still cool river water flow through.
Later that morning Bassan hooked, landed and tagged his 2nd Salmon of the trip much to the chagrin of his father Peter who was about to fish the same pool! This fish was landed further down river having scaled a tall, steep, slippery riverbank, and the fly of choice this time was an orange/brown bomber.
Brunch today consisted of homemade beans and fishcakes.
As Bassan was now tagged out, he was not allowed inside the park boundary with a fly rod, so he took Roger and I down river near where he tagged his 2nd fish earlier today.
After a spring storm and major flood event a few years ago the whole landscape of the Lomond River drastically changed transforming into the rugged boulder field you see today. Getting down river is quite tricky and includes scaling this slippery ass steep bank while wearing felt bottom wading boots!
Roger and I fished this lower section of river for a couple hours while Bassan headed back up river to see how his father was making out. Neither of us had much luck here today and we decided to head back up river around 8pm just as it started to rain.
And rain it did! The skies opened up but my Loop rain jacket was a god send keeping me dry and comfortable.
On our way back up river Roger and I stopped at middle pool, I gave Roger 1st pick as he had no tags filled, I then fished the same pool I caught my first fish in that morning. After a few casts in the pouring rain I rose a fish, and 2 casts later he took my white lightning fly with ferocity! I played, successfully landed and tagged out which meant I now graduated the Bassan Fly Fishing program!
This 2nd fish was slightly smaller at 56cm and I was ecstatic to have it in hand!
Supper this evening was Bassan's homemade moose lasagne, salad and bruschetta.
As Bassan and I were now both tagged out we could no longer fish inside the park boundary. Unfortunately this left not very much river to fish. We decided to do something that Bassan never did in all his years going to the Lomond, explore and fish other rivers on the Northern Peninsula. He contacted a couple of his fishing buddies who gave us some tips on where to go.
On Wednesday morning we got up early and headed a couple hours north on the Northern Peninsula Highway to the Big East river.
We drove a few kilometres in the adjacent resource road , parked and made a half hour hike into the river.
After scaling the steep gauntlet of a trail down to the river we were astounded by its beauty. Much of the river is carved into sheets of large flat rocks making it by far one of the nicest rivers to walk! It's also ported to be home to some monster Salmon, although we were a little early in the season for ideal fishing on the Big East.
At every turn the river just became more and more spectacular.
Our final upstream destination on the Big East was this area known as the chute. Here Bassan caught and released a dandy salmon and a nice brook trout in the lower pool.
The current here presented an interesting challenge to me as a new fly fisher as the water swirled and circled back up river in the lower pool which made fishing the far side next to the cliff more challenging.
From here we fished our way back down river and eventually headed back out the trail to the truck mid afternoon now under sweltering 30 degree temps!
We got back to the Lomond around 6pm so Bassan and I fished the section of river near the cabins which is outside the park boundary. We learned that Peter tagged his first fish of the trip this morning at Middle Pool, then we watched him walk out the trail around 7:30pm with his 2nd fish tagged!
Although I forgot to snag a pic, on the menu tonight was dandy turkey dinner complete with mashed potato, carrot, turnip and gravy.
On Thursday morning Bassan and I hit the road again, heading even further up the Northern Peninsula to River of Ponds. We were going to check out a couple pools recommended by Bassan's good buddy who said it was a half hour drive down the gravel resource road.
Over an hour later we arrived to the pool which is near one of Lundrigan's camps.
I stayed and fished the lower end near the pond while Bassan crossed the river and went upstream to a dandy pool.
This pool was absolutely beautiful although it didn't produce a fish today.
Next we headed further in the resource road to a pool near another of Lundrigan's camps crossing a strong but sketchy bridge in Bassan's Tacoma. The bridge was steel but the deck boards were quite sketchy, spoiler alert - we made the crossing both directions just fine (one local fisherman thought we were nuts and drove out the other - longer - way).
This pool was also quite beautiful and we could see at least one salmon sitting resting in the water along side one of the large boulders. We tried a bunch of combinations of flies to no avail.
The sketchy bridge.
After not much luck at River of Ponds we headed to the Torrent river which we heard was absolutely beautiful.
We parked at the interpretation centre and took advantage of the boardwalk trail to access the river.
Of course you can't visit the Torrent for the first time without stopping to view the falls and fish ladder!
All of the pools on this stretch of river are connected by a beautiful boardwalk. Its a little overgrown, I'm not sure if that's a reflection on available funding for maintenance or the Covid Pandemic. The walkway is in a great state of repair and an easy walk, however getting down off the boardwalk and down to some of the pools may be a little tricky for some people.
Wing Pool was our first stop, we had the entirety of this large pool to ourselves. We first fished from the bank working our way out to hit as many runs as we could. There were a lot of fish jumping, Bassan hooked one but it quickly tossed the fly.
View looking downriver from John's Pier to Bristol's and another steel bridge.
Shady pool was busy when we arrived earlier so we stopped there on the way back to the truck as most people had moved on down river.
This is one of the easier pools to access, the topography makes this trail a little easier than the rest. There is even a beautiful patio available for people to relax, sit down or have a lunch.
View downriver from Shady pool towards Wing Pool. I never had much luck today but Bassan hooked and played a fish at Shady Pool for a couple minutes before the line popped freeing the mighty Salmon.
The drive up and down the Great Northern Peninsula is one of the most beautiful on the island. The road winds its way along the shore with the ocean on one side and long range mountains on the other.
Bassan's Tacoma was a little dirty but none the worse for wear!
We made it back to the Lomond around 7:30pm. On the supper menu tonight were leftovers including lasagne and turkey plus a salad & bruschetta.
Friday morning, the final day of our trip, Bassan and Roger hit the Lomond early with Bassan acting as guide as they were inside the park boundary at middle pool. Roger hooked his first and only fish of this trip just after daybreak, leaving no member of our party skunked!
Afterwards Bassan and I headed outside the park boundary to the Lomond Flats for a couple hours. I managed to hook & release a few small trout while Bassan hooked and released one Salmon.
After a hearty brunch of bacon, eggs, beans and my fresh fish puddings, we packed up our gear to head home.
The crew, not pictured is Johnny Tucker because he didn't go. LoL
The drive back across the island was uneventful, and like the trip over on Monday was under beautiful sunny skies. I truly appreciate being invited along on this adventure, its been a long running annual trip for Bassan and I look forward to many more in the coming years.
Copyright © 2011 Michael Smith