Bonaventure RiverMarch 4, 2014
Twelve young people got to play a special game of “Go Fish” last summer, and they didn’t even need a tablet, an Xbox 360, or a lowly deck of cards! What they did need was waders, broad-brimmed hats, bug repellant and maybe just a bit more patience and dexterity than what’s required for a video game.
The 12 youth, all from the Carleton to Paspébiacarea of Quebec’s Gaspé peninsula, were participating in the second annual Salmon Sport Fishing Summer Camp offered by l’ Association des pêcheurs sportifs de la Bonaventure Inc. (the Bonaventure Association of Sport Fishers).
“Our plan was to develop a camp where youth could learn the art of fly fishing,” says Ronald Cormier, the Association’s executive director. “Using that fun experience, we would also teach them about the magnificent wild Atlantic salmon in the area, and help them gain an understanding and appreciation of how important it is to protect and preserve the fish’s sensitive habitat.”
With inaugural funding from several sources, including $6500 from ASCF, the Association began to build its vision in 2012: a rustic camp some 40 kilometers in the wilderness of the Bonaventure River ZEC, outfitted with a large meal tent, a portable toilet, basic camp furniture, a solar lamp post and 12 sets of fishing gear.
The first camp was offered that August and was, indeed, a wonderful learning experience, starting with that 40 kilometer drive through wilderness forest to the rustic campground (far away from electronics and cell service!) and including lessons on canoeing and water safety, fishing equipment, rigging a rod, entomology, knots and fly-tying. There were also casting lessons and, of course, there was plenty of fishing!
“All the participants were thrilled with the experience,” says Cormier.
Based on that success, ASCF granted the Association an additional $2200 per year for the next three years so that the camp can continue operation until at least 2015.
Now with a second year of experience under its belt, Cormier and his Association are looking beyond 2015, with plans to expand the camp idea to other ZECS across Québéc.
“We are certain that many of our campers will become ambassadors for the conservation and protection of our wild Atlantic salmon populations,” says Cormier. “Some may even choose to set aside their game remotes, pick up a casting rod and become lifetime sports fishers!
“What a great way to ensure a bright future for wild Atlantic salmon and recreational fishing for years to come!”