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"There is only one theory about angling in which I have perfect confidence, and this is that the two words, least appropriate to any statement about it, are the words 'always' and 'never'."
Lord Grey of Fallodon -

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 "Fish come and go, but it is the memory of afternoons on the stream that endure."
E. Donnall Thomas -

           Spinning Rod


(Salvelinus fontinalis)

                          Brook Trout                     

Common Names - The brook trout is also commonly known as speckled trout, Eastern brook trout, brookie, native trout, and squaretail.

Description - This attractive member of the char family has a brownish to greenish back with pale wormlike markings. The sides have pale spots and some small red spots with blue halos. The tail is almost square and the lower fins have white leading edges.

Habitat - Brook trout thrive in streams, lakes, and ponds that are cold and clear. They prefer water temperatures in the 10-13C (52-56F) range. They often inhabit spring fed streams, lakes, and still water brooks.

Angling - Brook trout are powerful fighters for their size, especially when caught on a fly, though not spectacular jumpers. They will take dry flies, but small wet flies and streamers generally work better. The average size taken by anglers is less than a pound, but specimens of two pounds or more are caught each spring. The world record brook trout was taken in 1915 on the Nipigon River, Ontario, weighing in at 14 pounds 8 ounces (6.6 kg) and measuring 34 inches in length.

"If I knew all erbout fishin' fer trout, I w'ud give it up and tackle sunthin' more innerestin'."     
- Dud Dean -    

Humpy            jump.gif (7567 bytes)   Back to Contents                       

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(Salmo salar)

Atlantic Salmon

Description - The Atlantic salmon is silvery to yellowish brown on its sides with dark spots. They may resemble brown trout, especially after being in fresh water for several months, but the tail is slightly forked rather than square and there are no spots on the adipose fin.

Habitat - Although there are landlocked salmon in some areas, most are anadromous. They enter fresh water in late spring to early summer in clear, coldwater streams along the North Atlantic Coast. Water in the 12-16C (53-59F) range is preferred by Atlantic salmon.

Angling - No gamefish has inspired greater interest, respect, and admiration than the Atlantic salmon. They are among the most acrobatic of all gamefish, making powerful reel emptying runs. They rise well to a dry fly, but many magnificently coloured streamers have been used over the years and have become classics as much for their beauty as their fish catching ability. Atlantic salmon over 100 pounds have been taken by commercial fishermen, but a typical size is 5-15 pounds.

"Atlantic salmon fishing represents, in all likelihood, the highest development of individual angling known on this continent."
- Lee Wulff - The Atlantic Salmon

Silver Doctor

Green Highlander


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(Micropterus dolomieui)

Smallmouth Bass

Common Names - The smallmouth is variously called, bronzeback, black bass, green trout, and redeye.

Description - The smallmouth has greenish to brownish sides with dark vertical bars that come and go, often depending on habitat. Three dark bars radiate from the eye. Smallmouth have a chameleon-like ability to change colour.

Habitat - Smallmouth bass prefer the clear water of rocky lakes where they prey on other fishes, particularly yellow perch (there are no crayfish in Nova Scotia, which is a favoured food in other areas) and larval and adult insects.They also thrive in rivers and streams of moderate current. Preferred water temperatures range from 18-24C (65-75F).

Angling - Smallmouth bass are considered by many to be the most exciting and sportiest freshwater fish. They are known for their fighting stamina and amazing leaping ability. They will take almost any lure, including flies, generally in smaller sizes. Favourites include plastic grubs, plastic worms, jigs, crankbaits, surface lures, spinners, and streamer flies. Fish of two to three pounds are not uncommon, but the average size is probably less than a pound. The world record is 11 pounds, 15 ounces.

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(Perca flavescens)

Yellow Perch


Common Names – Yellow perch are commonly called perch, lake perch, ringed perch, and raccoon perch.

Description – This extraordinarily colourful fish is yellowish-green above with six to nine dark vertical bars that extend almost to the whitish belly. The lower fins are amber to bright orange. Females are not as brightly coloured as males. When handled, the course scaled body feels rough. In Nova Scotia it grows to a length of about 30 cm (12 inches) and a weight of about 1 pound.

Eating Quality - Although many of the yellow perch caught are too small to eat, if they have any size to them, they are one of the finest eating freshwater fish. Remove the skin before frying. The white, flaky meat is firm and tasty.

Habitat - Yellow perch are common in lakes and quiet stretches of streams on mainland Nova Scotia. Because of low angling pressure and high reproductive rates, they often soon overpopulate and the size each attains becomes smaller and smaller with each generation. They prefer water temperatures in the 18-23 C (65-72 F).

Angling - Yellow perch are easy to catch, but are not strong fighters. Although not as popular as the trouts, they are frequently taken by anglers. They are a great fish to catch when you and your young child are out to have lots of fun and just catch fish. Popular baits include your garden variety worm, minnows, small spinners and jigs.

           Cottage in the woods         
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(Esox Niger)

Chain Pickerel

Common Names - Chain pickerel are often called by other names such as, pike, chainsides, grass pike, eastern pickerel, mud pickerel, jack, and jackfish.

Description - The chain pickerel gets its name from the dark chain-link markings on its sides. The background varies from green to bronze. Chain pickerel, like all members of the pike family, are distinguished by their elongate jaws and the dorsal fin which is situated on the far back near the tail fin.

Habitat - Pickerel are normally found in clear quiet waters with lots of shallows and heavy weed growth. They prefer water temperatures in the 20-25 C (70-78 F). They are found in many lakes throughout Yarmouth and Digby Counties.

Eating Quality - Pickerel should be filleted and skinned before eating. They have white, flaky meat which is very tasty. The only drawback is the great number of small "Y" bones. These can be removed, but only with some difficulty.

Angling - Chain pickerel are one of the most explosive fish to catch on top water lures. They will often savagely attack most any popper, buzz bait, stick bait or propeller lure. They will also readily take red and white spoons, spinner baits, and crankbaits and can be a real challenge on a fly rod. Watching the vee-wake of their torpedo-like bodies coming toward your lure can be heartstopping. The world record chain pickerel is 9 pounds 6 ounces, caught in Georgia in 1961. The average size in Nova Scotia would be about two pounds. A fish in the four to six pound range would be considered a trophy, but not unusual in our waters.


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(Morone americana)

White Perch

Common Names - In some areas the white perch is known as silver perch, bluenose perch and sea perch. Although called a perch, the white perch is really temperate bass family.

Description - The white perch is usually dark brown to black on the back becoming silvery-green on the sides. The deepest part of the body is at the dorsal fin.

Habitat - Although most people know the white perch as a freshwater fish, it is equally at home in brackish and salt water. It is common in rivers near the seacoast and in lakes and ponds connected to estuaries. In these areas it is known to migrate to sea for the summer. It is distributed in suitable areas throughout the province. Its preferred temperature range is 20-26C (71-78F).

Eating Qualities - The firm, white meat is excellent eating. The fish should be skinned before cooking. Pan fried, they are delicious.

Angling - White perch are easily caught on worms, minnows, small jigs, spinners, spoons, wet flies, and streamers. They wage a feisty but usually short battle. Coming across a school of white perch can provide fast and exciting action. The world record white perch, weighing in at 4 pounds, 12 ounces, was caught in Maine in 1949.

Jump n' Splash       Back to Contents                                                                                                     


                                       Spinning Rod

                             STRIPED BASS

(Morone saxatilis)

Striped Bass

Common Names - These popular fish are often called striper, sea bass, rockbass, and linesides.

Description - Striped bass are olive-green to dark blue on the back, becoming silvery on the sides and white on the belly. There are seven or eight distinct horizontal stripes on the sides.

Habitat - Stripers are anadromous, maturing at sea they enter freshwater streams to spawn. They prefer relatively clear water with a good supply of baitfish such as gaspereau, herring, eels, and smelt. Stripers are most frequently found in river systems flowing into the Bay of Fundy and the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia. Their preferred water temperature range is 18-24C (65-75F).

Eating Qualities - Stripers are excellent eating. The meat is firm, white, and flaky. The best way to prepare them is to fillet and skin them, then fry them in your favourite batter.

Angling - The striped bass is a highly favoured gamefish. Its speed and power make it one of the most exciting fish to be caught in local waters. Stripers are often caught by trolling with lures or bait such as eels in rivers where they are known to frequent. In my area though, they are more often fished from shore with large crankbaits such as Cordell Red Fins, large Rapala minnows, and surface poppers. Large bucktail jigs are commonly used on the Annapolis River. The world record striped bass was caught off Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1982, weighing in at 78 pounds, 8 ounces.

        Splash                                                                                                                   Back to Contents

Spinning Rod


(Alosa sapidissima)

American  Shad

Common Names - Some common names include white shad, Atlantic shad, common shad, and jack. The males are referred to as buck shad and the females as roe shad.

Description - This member of the herring family is dark blue on the back and silvery-white on the sides and belly. There are always more than four spots in a row behind the gill cover that become smaller and less colourful toward the tail. The scales are large and loose.

Habitat - American shad are anadromous and are found in fresh water only during the spawning run when they swim up rivers along the coast. In Nova Scotia, this run begins about mid May and usually peaks in early to mid June. It usually does not venture far from the river of its birth where it feeds primarily on marine plankton. They cannot tolerate cold water and avoid water temperatures below 10C (41F).

Eating Qualities - The white flaky meat is good eating, either fresh or smoked. Shad caviar highly esteemed in many areas.

Angling - When hooked on light or a fly rod, shad wage a spectacular aerial fight. Most are caught on a small type of lead head jig called a shad dart, usually in red and white. They can also be caught on flies and small spoons. Once you have one on you must fight it very carefully, as hooks easily tear out of their paper thin mouths.

"The poor man's salmon."                                                                                                                            jump.gif (7567 bytes)

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(Pomatomus saltatrix)


Common Names - When small, they are known as snappers. The adult fish are often called blues or choppers.

Description - Bluefish are the sole member of the Pomatomidae family. The strong, streamlined body ends in a deeply forked tail. As their name suggests, they are a deep blue in colour which fades to white on the belly. Their teeth are extremely sharp as many unwary anglers can attest.

Habitat - Bluefish are strictly an ocean going fish and do not tolerate fresh water, even a heavy rain will send them farther out to sea. They frequent the shallows of estuaries in search of baitfish on which they feed voraciously. They make an annual run up the Atlantic coast following the summer warming trend. Nova Scotia is probably their northernmost limit. The runs often do not reach here unless the water temperatures are favourable.

Eating Qualities - Though a good eating fish when cleaned promptly and kept cool, because of their oily flesh, bluefish do not freeze well. They are filleted and prepared fresh or smoked.

Angling - Bluefish have everything going for them as a gamefish. They are relatively large (5-20 pounds are not uncommon), fight extremely hard, jump acrobatically, and take all manner of lures and baits. The most popular method of fishing in this area is with practically any kind of surface lure, which the bluefish will often tenaciously pursue and viciously attack.

"It's so full of life! And it's true to life; there is nothing fake or soft about it; life is harsh. I've said it before and I'll say it again! I'm deeply in awe of the bluefish."
- John Hersey -                                                                                                                                 
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    Spinning Rod


   (Salmo trutta)

        Brown Trout

Common Names - The brown trout is known by many names. They include English brown, German brown, Loch Leven brown, and brownie.

Description - The back of the brown trout is brown to golden brown, becoming lighter on the sides and white on the belly. There are large black spots and usually some orange or red spots, the spots often having whitish to bluish halos. The squared tail usually has few or no spots on it.

Habitat - Browns can live in warmer water than other trout. They prefer water from 15C-18C (60F-65F), but can survive at 24C (75F). They thrive in coolwater streams and lakes, but need running water to reproduce. In Nova Scotia brown trout are found in limited numbers in Guysborough, Yarmouth, Lunenburg, Queens, Cumberland, Annapolis, and Kings Counties and are not heavily fished.

Eating Quality - The meat has a pinkish or yellowish tint and a good flavour, but is not considered as good as that of the brook trout.

Angling - Browns are considered to be the wariest of all trout, the biggest ones only feeding at night. Although a strong fighter, it is not as acrobatic as other trout. They can be taken on a variety of flies including dries, nymphs, and streamers as well as spoons, spinners, and plugs. The world record brown trout was taken in the Little Red River, Arkansas, in 1992 weighing in at 40 pounds, 4 ounces.

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(Ictalurus nebulosus)

Brown Bullhead

Common Names - I didn't know that this fish had a name other than hornpout until I was well into my teens! Other less common names included mud cat and pout.

Description - The brown bullhead, and all freshwater catfishes, has eight barbels, commonly called whiskers or feelers, which encircle the mouth. They have strong sharp spines at the base of the dorsal and pectoral fins and the tail is nearly square. The back is dark brown to olive-green The sides may be mottled with dark patches and the belly is a cream colour.

Habitat - Hornpout live in quiet, weedy, mud-bottomed lakes and streams. They move about mainly at night in search of food, eating a variety of insects, crustaceans, mollusks, and small fishes.

Eating Quality - The brown bullhead is seldom eaten, but its flesh has an excellent flavour. The tail, from the front of the adipose fin to the end of the tail, is solid flesh and fries up very nicely.

Angling - Brown bullheads are very easy to catch on worms or minnows. Although fair fighters, I recall as a child, that the catching of one just before dusk usually signaled the time to quit fishing unless catching hornpout was our purpose. Staying any longer only meant that we would catch more hornpout. Since they invariably swallow the hook and are very slimy, we usually had no desire to catch them. Average size is usually under a pound. The world record brown bullhead was caught in Shallow Lake, Minnesota, in 1974 weighing in at 7 pounds, 1 ounce.

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new.gif (116 bytes)Try AllAngler.Com Type in the name and get the data you want on any fish species in the library.

Try NS department of Fisheries: Inland Species Sheets for fact sheets on native freshwater species of Nova Scotia. They include more extensive information including distribution, interesting facts, and natural history.

Check out this link for a comprehensive On-Line Fish Encyclopedia Index. If you fish for it, it's probably here!

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Last updated: June 22, 2000                     
Copyright 1999. John D. Armstrong 
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