Quebec: 5 Amazing Hunting and Fishing Adventures

Quebec: 5 Amazing Hunting and Fishing Adventures
Black bears are widely distributed across Quebec with quality hunts available in both spring and fall. Many outfitters offer excellent fishing as well. Photo courtesy Quebec Outfitters Federation

You don't need to be a geography wiz to know where the province of Quebec is located. For millions of hunters and anglers in the United States, it is simply right next door. It's possible for anyone in New England to go to southern Quebec even for a long weekend of outdoor fun. And with direct flights from many U.S. cities straight to Montreal, hunters elsewhere in The States can plan a Quebec hunting adventure with minimal travel.

The province offers special, best-in-the-world hunting and fishing opportunities not known to many. These are the five greatest Quebec hunting and fishing adventures you've probably never heard of.

Photo courtesy Quebec Outfitters Federation

Black Bear + Big Fish = Round the Clock Adventure

Across the U.S., and especially in the East, it's difficult to take in a good bear hunt, especially in the spring seasons. Not so in Quebec. Black bear are widely distributed in the province and dozens of quality outfitters are ready to help whether you choose to hunt with a rifle, muzzleloader, bow, or crossbow. Quebec has long been open for crossbow hunting and hosts both spring and fall seasons.

Spring bear hunting in Quebec is frequently combined with outstanding fishing for walleye and northern pike. In fact, it creates the chance to enjoy Quebec's outdoors nearly around the clock.

To pull this off, your day must start early. Spring bear hunting peaks in late May and early June; by then, the sun crests the horizon by 5:00 a.m. so that means there's ample fishing light by 4:30. If you want to start with a good breakfast, the alarm will ring by 4:00 at the latest.

You'll fish hard through late morning. After all, you're counting on what you catch for lunch. After a wood fire shore lunch on a sandy beach or a giant lakeside boulder, a short nap under a tree may be in order. Then it's time to hit the water again and put a few more fish in the boat, but by mid-afternoon you need to be on your way back to camp. There's fish to clean and package, and you better hurry. The chef and staff will put dinner on the table by 4:00. Too early for supper? Not here.

The bear stands are spaced over a huge territory. Your outfitter may keep as many as 50 going all spring to spread out the hunting. You need to eat, change, grab your gun or bow, and head to the stand. Get going! Your guide's pacing outside his pickup and looking at his watch.

By 6:00 p.m. you'll be settled in your stand. As the shadows grow longer, every sound will seem louder, every flutter of a bird's wings or red squirrel at the bait will be magnified times 10. Your hunting instincts will ride a razor's edge. Sunset comes after 9:00. So begins the real witching hour for black bear. From then until you plain can't see any more. That's close to 10:00. Your guide will pick you up about a half hour after that, unless … If one or more hunters in your truck experienced success, don't figure on getting out of there until 11:00 or later and it may take an hour to get back to camp. Reliving the day's events around the campfire begins just after midnight. A scant couple hours of sleep, and it's time to do it all again.

You can scout out an adventure just like this for yourself on the Quebec Outfitters Federation's website and looking under the "Packages" and "Hunting" tabs, then click "Black Bear."

Photo courtesy Quebec Outfitters Federation

Do Battle With Ancient, Monster Trout

In The States, we generally call them "brookies," "brook trout," or "square tails." But in Quebec the native brook trout (which is more closely related to the arctic char than to our rainbow or brown trout) are commonly called "speckled trout." When you're standing waist deep in a broad wilderness river and casting into current seams you can call them whatever you want, but rest assured Quebec grows them big, old, and beautiful.

And there is another big difference between U.S. trout and those found in Quebec—size! In The States, we describe brook trout in terms of how long they are—"eight-inchers, 12-inchers, 14-inchers"—because our brookies generally don't' get very big. In Quebec, however, a higher standard is required—pounds!

In fact, a legit goal for a brilliant, fall-spawning male brook trout in Quebec is something like 7½, or even 8 pounds! The weight, of course, will be nothing but an educated guess as you should hold such a treasure only long enough to snap a couple of quick selfies before returning him to the water to spawn.

It surprises many anglers that fish like that often come not from distant, remote rivers in Quebec's wild Far North, but from waters accessed easily with just a short float plane flight from a larger city. The average size of speckled trout found province-wide is indeed impressive. Fish running 2 to 4 pounds are common on many waters, so gear up and fish flies and lures that are built for fish this size.

Your guide or outfitter will offer the best advice about tackle on which to catch these fish, but it's a good idea to bring a selection of single-hook in-line spinners, marabou jigs, and medium-size spoons, along with a fly rod. For fly fishing, be sure to bring floating, sink-tip, and full sinking lines to assure you can reach the fish. The adage "big baits, big fish" holds true here. Stick with flies that run at least half the length of your pointer finger.

When you hook a speckled trout, you'll first notice its bright orange fins accented by the characteristic leading edges of white. Only after you've landed the fish will its purple-ringed yellow and orange spots and deep red belly stand out. Beauty this spectacular will make you hesitate for a moment of awe before removing the hook.

Even if the fish you hook is small, don't be surprised if the excitement doesn't end quickly. Most speckled trout waters also support two apex predators—northern pike and lake trout. When a small trout is on the hook, it's common for a big pike or laker to grab the hooked speck just a few feet from the rod tip! These fish often weigh 10 pounds or more; sometimes 20. You can land a surprising number of unintended targets even though they never feel the sting of the hook. They're that tenacious about holding on to their meals until they are deep in the mesh of a landing net!

Sound exciting? It is. You can find out which Quebec outfitters can set you up for this kind of unique adventure on the QOF website, then searching under the "Packages" and "Salmonid" tabs.

Whitetails—Lots of Whitetails!

The deer species that hogs the spotlight Quebec is the moose. They're big. They're regal. And they're slightly exotic big-game animals. And, in Quebec, hunting them is nearly a religion.

But for all the fanfare Quebec's moose garner, their white-tailed deer slip under the radar. That's a bit of a shame, because there are lots of them spread across the southern third or so of the province. And Quebec offers diversity in whitetail hunting unmatched anywhere else in the world.

There are areas along the Quebec/U.S. border where whitetails are hunted in agricultural zones; just like in New England and the Great Lakes states. There's real Northwoods style hunting, like you'll find in upstate New York and Maine. And then there's Anticosti Island!

This island is about 135 miles long from east to west and about 32 miles wide north to south. It sits in the Gulf of St. Lawrence where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean. Since the late 1800s, when it was purchased by French candy magnate Henri Menier, it was envisioned as a wildlife and hunting paradise, which is exactly what it is today. Menier imported the first white-tailed deer to the island, and the rest is history.

Photo courtesy Quebec Outfitters Federation

Anticosti Island offers extreme diversity in whitetail hunting. The firearms season opens in early September, which is late summer on the island. That makes Anticosti one of the few locales where you can take a whitetail buck in the velvet with a firearm. On the other end of the spectrum, deer season on the island runs nearly until Christmas. More than one hunter has approached a downed buck to find an antler popped off when the deer fell!

Especially late in the season, there's a truly unique place to hunt deer on Anticosti – the seashore! The island is large enough to have its own maritime microclimates. As winter sets in, snow begins to pile up in the interior of the island and the deer migrate to spend winter on the coasts. There's slightly less snow there, temps are more moderate, and … most importantly … winter storms on the North Atlantic heap piles of kelp onto the beach. The deer love it!

When the migration is on, it's not unusual to sit in a stand along a well-used corridor and see hundreds of deer in a day! When the deer reach the coastal areas, it's a unique glass-and-stalk hunt. The deer spend lots of time in the flats and bogs above the shore and move down several times a day to hit the seaweed drifts. Often you'll note seals bobbing in the surf, watching your hunt unfold.

Throughout the long season (in which each hunter is allowed to take two deer) Anticosti is the ultimate Northwoods hunting destination. Outfitters offer a wide variety of accommodations and services, from a barebones cabin in the woods where you do your own cooking, all the way to luxury lodges with gourmet French chefs and housekeepers!

You'll want to note, Anticosti Island gets an unfair shake on the size of its deer. The genetic potential exists on the island for trophy bucks … and they are out there! Just like anywhere else, there aren't a lot of them and you have to hunt hard, but they're there. Since all of the hunting on Anticosti is done by non-residents on outfitted packages, there isn't time to pattern specific bucks. Besides, nearly all the Canadian hunters who come to Anticosti are primarily there to enjoy a week in a North Woods hunting camp and take home a couple of deer for the freezer. They aren't passing up a lot of deer looking for a big rack.

To find your perfect whitetail hunt on Anticosti Island or anywhere in Quebec, jump on the Quebec Outfitters website and search under the "Packages," "Hunting," and "White-tailed Deer" tabs.

Photo courtesy Quebec Outfitters Federation

A Fishing Paradise

Quebec offers tremendous fishing for many species. And the locations throughout the province where you can encounter walleye, bass, pike, brook trout, Atlantic salmon, arctic char, and at least a dozen other species are just as varied. So are the outfitting operations from which you can pursue these fish.

There are many, classic drive-to, family-style fishing camps that rent cabins. Others are lodge settings with central dining room and activity areas. Others are fly-in camps with direct connections from Montreal or Quebec. Still others are camps of the Far North that require overnights on the way in and the way out. There are outfitted fishing packages to suit every taste and bank account.

The variety of species, locations, and packages, might seem daunting at first, but that's where the features of the Quebec Outfitters Federation website comes into play. Starting on the home page, click on the "Fishing" tab. From there you can search by the outfitting operation's name, the region, or fish species to narrow your search for operations that offer the kind of trip you're looking for.

Photo courtesy Quebec Outfitters Federation

For example, more than 22 member outfitters of the Quebec Outfitters Federation offer speckled trout fishing. Several are within easy driving distance from Montreal or Ottawa, while others require you to access them by air.

If you want to target walleye, there are even more options to consider. A quick search shows more than 30 operations that offer walleye fishing, with most located in areas easily accessed by air or driving. Whether you want to target arctic char, Atlantic salmon, lake trout, northern pike, bass, or more than a dozen other species you can do the same thing. For multi-species trips, you can double up the search and look for operations that offer both speckled trout and walleye, for example. (There are no less than eight QOF members who offer that combo, by the way.)

Planning your customized, multi-species adventure can be nearly as much fun as the trip itself, partly because the Quebec Outfitter Federation's website is so easy to use and it members so eager to help.

Wonderful Wingshooting

When it comes to hunting, Quebec's big game are the glamour species – black bear, moose, and white-tailed deer. But the province is also a wingshooter's Valhalla both for upland birds and waterfowl.

The uplands offer ruffed grouse, spruce grouse, ptarmigan, and woodcock. To many hunters, especially those who come from Europe, the woodcock is king of them all! In western Europe, there is an entire hunting culture built around the woodcock, and hunters so addicted recognize Quebec as the finest woodcock hunting in the world today. American hunters' tastes lean more toward the ruffed grouse, and Quebec's grouse hunting opportunities are outstanding. So combining a grouse and woodcock hunt is the way to go.

Photo by Bill Miller

Diversity and rare opportunities are also the hallmarks of waterfowl hunting in Quebec. It's the last place in North America where you can hunt from traditional sink box rigs on the St. Lawrence River. The limits on black ducks are also the most generous you'll encounter anywhere. And a good number of outfitters target greater snow geese spring and fall on both agricultural fields and tidal flats.

All of that's on top of the usual puddle duck, diving duck, sea duck, and Canada goose hunting you might…or might not…expect of Quebec.

For more information, visit the Quebec Outfitters Federation at: www.hunting-fishing.quebec or by phone at (418) 877-5191 or 1-800-567-9009.

For questions: email info@quebecoutfitters.com.

Quebec Ultimate Destination

Now that you know what Quebec has to offer, how would you like to experience it yourself … FOR FREE … all-expenses paid kind of free?

You can enter to win an all-expense-paid hunting adventure and an all-expense paid fishing adventure of your own choosing, in the QOF's Quebec Ultimate Destination Sweepstakes at: http://quebecultimatedestination.com. When you enter, you'll select from a list of grand prize adventures for all of these opportunities.

Photo courtesy Quebec Outfitters Federation

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