Fly-fishing on the Pinware River

11 Dec 2013

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If Pinware described its campsites as having hot and cold running water with food nearby, they really couldn’t be accused of lying. Measuring just 68 hectares and bordered by the Pinware River on one side and the Strait of Belle Isle on the other, it’s one of Labrador’s hidden gems, renowned for its trout and salmon fishing (running water, food nearby:get it?).   All of which is probably why early the next day we found ourselves slipping on dead-sexy hip-waders from the Fall 2012 collection and learning the art of fly-fishing.


Tour Labrador, our hosts, were soon effortlessly zinging their lines across the water in fluid and mesmerizing motions, while we just gawked, knowing this would likely not end well for us. Melton, Bradley and William—three generations of fishermen—and Carmen, too, all casting lines like painters paint canvasses. The fish were obviously pros as well; they were more than happy to embrace their hooks, but steadfastly refused ours. And the fish we did catch couldn’t even be considered hors d’oeuvres. Fortunately, the Sea View Cottages and Restaurant provided us with a fantastic lunch straight from the river, evidently caught by fisher-folk who knew what they were doing!


After another great salmon lunch at the Seaview Restaurant (did you know salmon is good for cardiovascular health and for preventing cancers and deep-vein thrombosis; so I had a second helping, but just for the health of it), we were led down the Pioneer Footpath by Tour Labrador.  The trail has been in use by the English, French and Jerseymen settlers for more than 200 years, and until recently was the only land link between communities.  We followed in their footsteps through the rugged landscape and learned about the hard life of the settlers on our trek from Forteau to L’Anse au Clair.   The entire route covers 110 kilometers and stretches all the way back to Red Bay.

“Parting is such sweet sorrow,” Shakespeare wrote, as he boarded the ferry from Blanc-Sablon back to St. Barbe in the 1520s.  OK, that’s just an urban myth (OK, we just made that up!), but we certainly felt that way as Labrador slipped away and we edged back across the Strait of Belle Isle.  We were glad to be back in Newfoundland with all the great adventures we had lined-up, but it also meant our Labrador explorations were over – and they had been incredible.  Labrador is a corner of Canada most Canadians (ourselves included) tend not to know enough about.  But now we were hooked like a spawning salmon swimming upstream when dazzled by the glint of a snazzy-looking lure launched by an expert fly-fisherman (see what we learned!).  We will never forget the rugged grasslands and mountains and coastlines, the wildlife and the history, the incredible fresh food.