The Laurentian Plateau bordering the southwestern edge of Labrador gives rise to the Saint John River some 500 meters above sea level. Flowing 240 kilometers through the mountains, it ends in the Gulf of St. Lawrence near the small town of Rivière-Saint-Jean, 160 kilometers east of Sept-Îles, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. Salmon on the Saint-Jean can be fished by canoe or by wading along a 27-kilometer section. Each year, return numbers can reach up to 6,000 salmon, ranging from 10 to 25 pounds in weight.
The history of salmon sport fishing on the Saint Jean River dates back more than 150 years ago. In 1903, an American named James J. Hill acquired the riverbed and a small strip of land on the Saint-Jean, which Mr. Hill’s descendants still own today. Moreover, the upstream section of the river used to be exploited by other fellow Americans beginning in the 1960s. In 1986, the Quebec government entrusted this 23-kilometer section to the Haute-Saint-Jean Outfitter. Today, the Association de protection de la rivière Saint-Jean, a non-profit association made up of Rivière-Saint-Jean residents, manages the outfitter (with exclusive rights) and the sport fishing that takes place in the area.
The different fishing sectors and camps on the Saint-Jean River are accessible by boat. From the village of Rivière Saint-Jean, you can travel with a guide in a motorized canoe to one of the three lodges located further upstream from the mouth. Only the first 50 kilometers of the river are navigable. Here, salmon anglers will find about 55 pools spread out over 3 exclusive fishing sectors. This mighty river offers outstanding fishing opportunities for anglers, and a lot of salmon weighing more than 25 pounds have been caught in recent years. There’s also a public access sector on the river, between the first bridge and the mouth, where you can fish with a regular salmon fishing license throughout the season.