July 11-12, 2021: Northwest Brook, Trepassey Salmon Fishing

Submitted By: Andrea Bassan

It was close on 15 years since I last fished Northwest Brook in Trepassey and with a long weekend coming up, I decided to head up to Trepassey, stay a couple of days at the cabin and do some salmon fishing. My father knows this river well but he was working, so I was on my own this trip.

Thereís a trail that is accessed from the western side of the old bridge and youíll find a few parking spots on either side of the bridge. Thereís also a small campground on the eastern side of the river. Itís a basic campground, isnít serviced nor even staffed, but you can pitch a tent or park a camper there no problem.

The trail up the river is decent for the most part Ė rocky on the lower section and a steady uphill climb for the first 1/2 km or so. After that youíll get into some muddy and boggy sections before going uphill again. The trail is accessible by ATV but I had no problem walking the trail. The boggy sections can be tricky to get around after a lot of rain, but itís not too bad.

All the pools have been marked since I last fish the Northwest, which is nice for anyone new to the river or not familiar with the known pools. The first 2 weeks of July is normally a good time to fish the
Northwest but like most rivers, that can vary with water levels and temperature. My buddy Mark, who lives close to the Northwest and fishes it a lot, told me that the run was early this year and the best fishing was the last week of June and into the first week of July. It didnít matter to me though, I had a couple of days off and I was going salmon fishing. Never Miss is the first pool you come to and is maybe 100m up the trail.



A walk down a short path will bring you to the river. Look across and youíll see several runs out in the middle of the river. Walk up and out in the river and fish down towards the runs. The water level was a little high and fast after a few days of rain but the runs were easy to see and fish.



The next pool on the river is Winters Pool.


I donít remember ever fishing this pool before so it was all new to me. Without knowing exactly where
the best runs are, I fished wherever I thought a salmon might hold up. The water level seemed ideal to me and there were plenty of runs to fish. Thereís also a nice calm water section on the far side that looked promising.


I fished this pool for a couple of hours but didnít see any salmon. Itís been a while since I experienced black flies as bad as they were here Ė like Labrador bad. I often make fun of Mike for wearing his fly jacket but it wouldnít have been a bad idea on this day. Well, maybe. My father often fishes the river section between Winters and the next pool but I decided to take the trail. The next pool is the Crooked Ė a popular spot for anyone familiar with the Northwest. I met one local coming off the river and after he found out who I was, Peterís son, he offered a few pointers on where to fish. The Crooked was the last pool I remember fishing on the Northwest and one I liked.


The River makes a turn just below the big rocks so I guess thatís why itís called the Crooked. When I
approached this pool, I first fished the far left of the river where rocks in the river create a ripple and possible holding spot for salmon. After that, I made my way towards the big rocks, moving my fly ahead a foot or 2 with every cast. Youíll hardly ever see a local stand on the top of the rocks. The salmon will lie in front of the rocks and most think that the salmon can see you if youíre up that high.


Standing in the middle of the group of rocks, youíll see a few places to cast your line. Thereís a spot to the far left, on either side of the big rock directly in front of you, around the rock thatís just a few inches out of the water and to the right side of the river. Thereís also the main channel that runs down the middle of the river. All look like good places to cast your fly.


I did rise a fish just in front and to the side of the group of rocks. To fish this, I more or less held my fly in one spot, moving the fly by moving my rod back and forth. The water here is fast and I think the rocks create a spot for the salmon to lie in before going up river. Looking up river from the Crooked, youíll see a long section of calm water with plenty of big boulders on the river bottom that create spots for salmon to lie in.


I fished this entire section of river by standing as far back from the river as possible. I had one salmon come up for a look at my fly, only to ignore it, and saw another nice salmon jump on its way up the river. The water levels seemed good here but the water temperature was a little high and the fish were not taking the fly well Ė just like my buddy Mark has told me. From here you can either walk up the river or take the trail to the next pools Ė Sandy Pool and Ladder Falls.


On this trip, I walked the river one day and took the trail the next day. Iím not sure which is easier. This section of the river is rough with plenty of slippery and jagged rocks to navigate. The main trail is good but the path down to Sandy Pool is steep, muddy and slippery. Having felt soles doesnít help much on this path. Sandy Pool is a long still water pool. Itís best to fish this pool from the shore as the salmon like to lie just as the sandy, pebble beach dips into deep water. Early morning is the best time to fish Sandy Pool and youíll most likely have to get there early, as this is a popular spot.


I saw several fish at Sandy and had a couple of fish move and flash their sides when casting over to the far side of the river but had no takers. The salmon didnít seem to be interested in taking the fly and looked like they were just moving around in the pool. Thereís a ledge at the bottom of Sandy that can be used to cross the river. I didnít cross the river this day but saw several guys cross here. Actually, just in front and behind the ledge look like great spots for fish to lie, so if you do cross, try not to ruin the pool for anyone fishing the lower section of Sandy pool.


Below Sandy Pool thereís quite a few runs that salmon will hold in on their way up the river. The salmon would have just come up from the white water rapids above the Crooked and would be looking for a spot to rest I would imagine. The water isnít too deep here but itís fast. The runs are narrow but long and big enough for a fish or 2 to lie in.


The only salmon I saw caught on my 2 days on the river was along this section. A nice grilse caught on what the locals call an Underwater White Ė a variation of a muddler.


These runs can be productive when the salmon are running and Gerard, the guy who tagged the grilse, told me to donít be afraid to try those runs even if someone just fished them. When salmon are running, they move through those runs. That bit of information only came out when he found out who I was Ė Peterís son. I guess it pays to have connections.

The Ladder is a series big boulders, rocks and cliff that the river winds itself down through. This is another very popular pool to fish. Before fishing Sandy Pool on my second day, I had only seen the one guy at the Crooked. At Sandy and up on the Ladder I came across 7 guys fishing in the 1/2 day I spent fishing that section of the river.

At the top of the Ladder, thereís a section near the falls that you canít fish. Past that itís a nice walk, according to my father, to get to the next pools. I fished until 4 or 5 oíclock on the second day before heading back to the cabin for a quick bite to eat, a chat with my father and then heading home. It was nice to fish the Northwest again. I think Iíll plan another trip back next summer.

July 12th also marked the one year anniversary of our buddy Paul, Old Man Bailey, passing away at 87 years old. He was on the Eagle River in Labrador for one last trip. Spending a couple of days salmon fishing seemed like the best way to remember the old fella. Here he is with a nice morning catch from 2005 on our annual trip to the Lomond River. Weíll keep that story for another day.




Cheers, BASSAN

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