Like its unique and diverse cultural history, Montréal and its surrounding rivers have much to offer to fly fishers in pursuit of fish and beautiful outdoor escapes. This guide to fly fishing focuses on the area around Montréal in the southern part of the province of Québec. It is intended to help fishers of any skill level plan a trip, whether you’re looking for a guide or to fish on your own. I am grateful to have learned a detailed overview by interviewing Clément Roberge (pictured below), a local fishing guide who grew up in the area and passes on his knowledge and enthusiasm on guided fly fishing trips all around Quebec. Clément is a mechanical engineer during the week, then guiding on the weekends and hoping to one day guide full-time. You can contact Clément through his listing page, C&R Fly Fishing Guide, if you’re interested in fishing with him or have questions that aren’t answered here. - Luke Campbell, Fisher Guiding Co-Founder
One reason the Montréal area stands out among locations in North America to fly fish is that it is within reasonable distance of finding healthy fish populations across an abundance of species to target on the fly. Catch brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, walleye, pike, musky, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, gar, carp, fall fish, suckers, landlocked salmon (about 1.5 hours south of Montréal to Plattsburgh, New York), and Atlantic Salmon (about 3.5 hours north of Montréal). The city itself is an island framed by the St. Lawrence Rivers which drain the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean (you may find reference to the Prairies River and the Lake of Two Mountains, two sections of the St. Lawrence).
This unique geographic location means that almost all the species found in the Great Lakes can be found around Montréal, except for Steelhead trout and Coho salmon. Thus, the opportunity for urban angling, especially for bass and walleye, is literally all around. Venturing outside of the city, there are many pristine locations to explore on both the Canadian and American sides of the border.
Locations To Fish Around Montréal
A favorite river for Clément and many local anglers to fish on within an hour’s range of Montréal is the Chateauguay River. The Chateauguay sees less pressure than some larger rivers as it’s lesser-known to outsiders. It can be highly productive fish-wise and provides a beautiful setting. According to Clément, you can expect trout around 18 inches and sometimes a shot at trout up to 25 inches. The brown trout here are known to jump, which doesn’t happen everywhere. The Chateauguay River also features a beautiful waterfall and the oldest covered bridge in Canada, the Percy Bridge built in 1860.
A more frequented river is the Rivière du Diable (Devil’s River) to the northwest of Montréal. And the devil likes it hot; May to August are prime months to fish here.
The region northwest of Montréal is where you’ll likely want to go if you’re into dry fly fishing. Clément recommends the Rivière Du Nord and streams in the Saint-Jerome area, or go east to the Nicolet River. If you’re into catching brook trout on dry flies, Clément also knows a remote brook trout stream that he guides on north of Montréal around Mont-Tremblant National Park.
For those who will brave the cold, the Yamaska River is a good waterway open for fishing during portions of the winter (check up-to-date regulations for Sport Fishing Regulations in Québec first). The Yamaska is a tributary of the St. Lawrence River flowing westward and then northward from Lake Brome to Lake Saint-Pierre. The Yamaska is stocked plentifully with brown trout making it good for beginners, too. Catch and release is encouraged though not mandatory.
Interested in fishing for lake trout in a river? Clément has a great spot in Sherbrooke, but he can’t give it away so you’ll have to book a trip to get there.
If you want to catch coho salmon, there are spots within a reasonable distance of Montréal. For Atlantic salmon, you may consider heading farther north of Quebec City to the Rivière du Gouffre. All the rivers that hold Atlantic salmon are listed here. For landlocked salmon, consider a few rivers in New York: the Saranac River, Ausable River, or Bouquet River. Indeed, many area fly fishers will head south into the Adirondacks on the U.S. side of the border.
While on the water searching for fish in this region, don’t be surprised to also spot deer and red foxes among the forest, or bald eagles above!
Urban Angling in Montréal
There is plenty of opportunity for urban anglers to fish from the island of Montréal itself and off-island suburbs. On the South side, consider heading for the Lachine Rapids. The Rivière des Prairies (Prairies River) and the Rivière des Mille Îles, both on the North side of Montréal, also provide good fishing. Sitting on the Rivière des Mille Îles, Terrebonne is a particular suburb that Clément suggests trying your luck in. In these urban spots, anglers can target big smallmouth bass and walleye, goldeye, alosa (aka river herring), carp, pike, striped bass, and occasionally some large trout. Chinook salmon are quite rare, but there’s even a chance to catch one around here if you’re lucky.
You can fish year round in the Montréal area, though you’d have to brave freezing temperatures during parts of winter. Depending on what temperatures you’re comfortable in and what species you enjoy fishing for the most, spring, summer and fall can each be amazing for fly fishing and getting outdoors around the island.
Trout season in Montréal’s fishing zone (more on zones further down, under Licenses & Requirements) and the zones bordering it opens in late April and closes in early to mid-September. From the open of trout season in April and on through July, it’s a good time to target trout. Though September and October are great for trout fishing in nearby upstate New York and other parts of the northeastern U.S., the season north of the border in Quebec closes earlier.
Summer months of June through August are good for targeting bass, walleye, pike, and suckers.
Clément also explains a key difference between water on the two sides of the Canada - U.S. border. In the summer, the water is often warmer for some rivers on the Canadian side due to less tree coverage along stretches of rivers that used to be shaded. Thus, fishing on the American side of the border in the Adirondacks is a little better for trout species during the warmer summer months, though it’s a good time to fish no matter which side of the region you’re in – especially if you’re not picky about what to target as long as your lines are tight.
Recommended flies for the area include: stonefly patterns, muddlers, sculpins, olive (black, white), blue winged olive (BWO’s), wooly buggers, caddis flies, caddis nymphs, European nymphs (barbless) with tungsten beadhead (like the frenchie, red tag), and the tried-and-true squirmy worm.
Licenses & Requirements
Quebec is a large province (for American readers, it’s 2.2 times as big as Texas) and thus is divided into almost 30 fishing zones. Montréal is located in Zone 8 and bordered by Zones 5, 6, 7, and 9. It is important to check the regulations for the particular zone you’ll be fishing in. You can do this from Quebec’s interactive sport fishing map.
For both residents and non-residents, Quebec sells annual licenses as well as one-day, three-day and seven-day licenses. These sport fishing licenses cover all fish in Quebec except for Atlantic salmon (and burbot in Lake Saint-Jean though you would be a long way away from Montréal there).
- Further note that for salmon fishing in Quebec, in addition to a salmon license, you may need to apply in advance for a draw to fish a ZEC (salmon fishing controlled harvesting zone) or purchase access rights to fish certain managed sections of salmon rivers.
There is no certification needed for guiding in Canada, unlike in most U.S. states. However, some Canadian guides around Montréal get licensed in New York in order to guide there but also prove more credibility from having passed a certification requirement.
With an abundance of locations to explore for great fly fishing, naturally the angling community is strong in and around Montréal.
Visiting local fly shops is always a recommended way to engage with and support the local fly fishing community. Clément personally recommends stopping by Boutique Salmo Nature fly shop, one of the largest fly shops in Canada and the shop that Clément believes offers the best fly material in all of Quebec. He says the owner and staff there are great, and it’s located in the beautiful historic district, the Old Port of Montréal. Let them know you were recommended by Clément and Fisher Guiding!
For the youth, Clément guided kids under 16 years old for free in 2019 and plans to do the same in 2020. If you’re a local that knows of youth programs teaching kids to fish, or are thinking of starting one, drop us a line!
You can also take part in or spectate at fly fishing tournaments around Montréal. The Canadian National Fly Fishing Championship has regularly been held just 1.5 hours away at Kenauk Nature (a private game club with 60 lakes among a 65,000 acre territory) in Montebello, Quebec. Fly Fishing Canada also held the first ever Desjardins Fly Fishing Championship on the Nicolet River in September 2019.
Other Activities & Recommendations Around Montréal
Montréal is rich in culture, bilingual, and renowned as a global food destination. Poutine (fries and cheese curds topped with a brown gravy) originated here. For hiking, head to the top of Mount Royal in the middle of the city, or travel outside of the city to Mont-Tremblant National Park for forested trails a little under two hours away. For shopping, Old Montréal is unique with colonial architecture reminiscent of France. Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal is another famous stop for fans of historic architecture.
The area is home to many microbreweries, speakeasies, and relaxing bars to wind down a day in. For beer drinkers, our friend Clément recommends recounting your fish stories of the day over brews from a Chateauguay favorite, Champ Libre Brasserie & Distillerie, for excellent stouts, blondes and white beers.
Thank you to our partner Mr. Roberge for sharing information, photos, and answering questions. If you would like to learn and experience the beauty of fishing this area with Clément, book a trip with his guide service, C&R Fly Fishing Guide. Clément practices catch and release and all styles of fly fishing, with dry flies, euro nymphs, wet flies, dry droppers, and his favorite: streamer fishing. He specializes in guiding for trout, bass, walleye, and pike around Montréal. He expects to obtain his New York guide license in 2020 and eventually have a working visa so that he can guide or help out clients legally in both Canada and the United States for even wider-ranging opportunities. Clément’s goals are client satisfaction, sharing the passion of fly fishing, conservation of natural resources, and giving people reasons to smile on and after their trips. Don’t hesitate to reach out and get hooked up for a memorable experience around Montréal!