Margaree Valley, NS — A popular outdoor TV series currently filming in Cape Breton is expected to draw more visitors to Nova Scotia’s scenic island once its episode about salmon fly fishing on the Margaree River airs.
The crew of “The New Fly Fisher”, an Ottawa-based fishing show, began filming in the Margaree Valley in mid-July. The show, which has been on the air since 2001, previously visited the area during the 2015 fall salmon run. Primarily hosted by Colin McKeown and Bill Spicer, the long-running series can be seen on the World Fishing Network, PBS and Sportsman ChannelCanada. The show also has its own YouTube channel.
The new episode on the Margaree will focus on dry fly fishing for Atlantic salmon in which the lure floats on the surface of the water.
The show’s production team stays at the Normaway Inn, which is located just two miles from the approximate halfway point of the Margaree River, just like seven years ago when the show’s exhibit was brought dozens of fishermen to the area.
Owner-operator David MacDonald said he’s optimistic the lightning will strike twice.
“Since their first visit, we’ve had hundreds of anglers from around the world who saw us on the show and booked a trip to Cape Breton to fish Margaree,” the longtime innkeeper said.
“It’s nice to see the river with healthy stocks and fishermen coming to fish. It’s just great news that more and more people are coming to enjoy the Margaree which is, of course, world famous. There are so many great places to see in the Margaree, but many of them are hidden away because the catchment area is so large.
“And the nice thing about anglers is that they tend to stay longer than the average guest and are more likely to return.”
MacDonald said the river became increasingly popular with anglers in the early 1980s.
“When I came here in 1976 there were 120 fish caught that season, according to reports, and three years later that number had risen to over 3,000 fish,” he said.
“So the river has had a very nice recovery for a number of reasons – a local association has been formed and conservation efforts have been undertaken and the Atlantic Salmon Federation and the Federal Government have bought out the commercial fishing licenses so we have saw a huge increase in the number of fish being caught. And the Nova Scotia government did some really good promotions in the 1980s.”
MacDonald also noted that the Margaree River has about 20 fishable miles with about 30 recognized basins. However, he added that changes to the river mean fewer pools are now being fished.
HANGING FROM CAPE BRETON
Mark Melnyk, producer of “The New Fly Fisher”, said he was delighted to be back in Cape Breton.
“It’s one of the most accessible and affordable salmon fisheries in the world,” he said.
“The river is in good condition, the summer salmon run is underway and it will be a great show. The highland scenery is beautiful and the people are wonderfully warm and welcoming. Nova Scotia is a favorite destination for our international audience and we look forward to presenting the Margaree.
Melnyk noted that the show also airs outside of North America in places like Poland, Switzerland, and France.
Destination Cape Breton Association President and CEO Terry Smith recognized the importance of promoting niche markets such as sport fishing.
“It’s fantastic – we’re always looking for exposure for markets like this and plan to promote more in the future,” Smith said.
“People have been going to the Margaree to fish for over 100 years and ‘The New Fly Fisher’ is a great vehicle to help spread the word about this wonderful experience we have on the island.”
The show also has the support of Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Steve Craig.
“Anglers everywhere know that if you want to fly fish Atlantic salmon, the Margaree River is a great place to go,” he said.
“Nova Scotia has built a reputation for offering one of the best and most accessible sport fishing experiences in the world and I’m thrilled to see The New Fly Fisher bring it to its audience.”
• Sport fishing on the Margaree River is estimated to have an economic impact of over $1 million per year for surrounding communities
• Recreational fishing contributes over $70 million annually to the Nova Scotia economy.
• Over 79,000 sport fishing licenses were sold in Nova Scotia in 2021