Kate Sherin is a Redington Ambassador, passionate angler, and conservationist from Nova Scotia—a huge thank you to Redington for supporting this conservation angler story.
I slide the key into the ignition and bring my mid 90’s Jetta to life. The diesel engine muffled as a homemade burned CD blasts through the speakers. It’s early June, 2005 and I’m slightly late for school. I grew up just outside of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, along the estuary of the LaHave river. I enjoy driving to school, my route takes me along the river and into town. My high school is situated on the river, atop one of the more famous Salmon pools. As I turn into the student parking lot I see several guys across the road, gearing up rods and pulling on their waders to head down for a fish.
They say hindsight is 20/20 and if only I knew then what I know now. This river, that was a staple landmark of my childhood, was famous. The mighty LaHave, once one of Nova Scotia’s most famous Atlantic Salmon rivers. The river that brought people from all over to its picturesque Hemlock lined banks to experience the incredible returns of wild Atlantic Salmon.
It eats at my soul knowing the fishery I had access to in my own back yard. I think to myself, wow, what a lunch break that could have been, fishing for Salmon between classes. As fate would have it, I did not start my Salmon angling journey until 2 years after the river was closed to salmon angling. The river shut down in 2010 due to a drastic decline in returns. The decline in LaHave salmon can be attributed to several factors; The river experienced a catastrophic bought of acid rain in the 80’s, climate change, an increase in at sea mortality from the commercial fishery in Greenland, and the introduction of invasive species, smallmouth bass, and chain pickerel.
Salmon fishing is my obsession. I’m extremely lucky to be able to share this passion with my husband, Scotty. Once we started traveling and exploring other beautiful Eastern Canadian rivers in pursuit of Salar, we started hearing stories of my “home” river, and the good old days. We became absorbed in the lore and tales of the past. We quickly became captivated with the river and would soak up any chance to learn more about the history of the LaHave.
As you mature in your fishing journey, you naturally become more conservation minded and you realize conservation is multi-faceted; conserving and preserving are nearly impossible without maintaining connections and pride for a river.
My husband, Scotty and I started having deep conversations on our journeys home from our salmon fishing adventures. They always started with, “imagine the LaHave still had a salmon season.” We are required to drive 3-5 hours north to access salmon water now. We started diving down the rabbit hole of what it would take to restore our home river. Afterall, Denmark and Sweden have made major progress in restoring salmon returns, why can’t we have similar success? We decided to seek out and join the LaHave River Salmon Association and found a group of like-minded individuals already battle hardened. The idea of joining a salmon association on a river with no salmon season might seem foolish to many, but the concept began to make a lot of sense the more we discussed the notion of salmon conservation and advocacy. Fishing, especially catch and release can be an inherently selfish undertaking. Scotty and I began to realize, why do you need to fish the river to care for the salmon that still call it home? This new passion for our closed home river could be a way to offset our time fishing, do some good, and create real change for future generations. Afterall, it’s everything you do without a rod in your hand that has the largest impacts.
Through the LaHave River Salmon Association we have had the opportunity to learn the intricacies of conservation and salmon recovery through our affiliates, The Nova Scotia Salmon Association, Adopt-a-Stream, Nova Scotia Department of Inland Fisheries, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Coastal Action. Through their guidance we have had the opportunity to restore sections of river using digger logs and rock sills, monitor water quality, and employ acid rain mitigation strategies. We’ve adopted the use of floy tags for mark and recapture of invasive species to learn migration patterns in hopes to sway regulations and develop targeted strategies for removal. This spring we helped deploy acoustic tags on out-migrating salmon to track their migration behavior. We’re beginning an artificial cold water refugia project with the Nova Scotia Salmon Association, where river water will be channeled underground, cooled, and reintroduced to the river.
Our involvement grew from becoming members of the LaHave River Salmon Association, to directors, and now Scotty as Vice president.
The unfortunate reality of closing a fishery is that people start to detach themselves from the river. It becomes a “dead river” in many ways. It’s important to advocate, protect, and restore a river, even though we can’t fish it for Salmon. The sad reality of doing nothing will unquestionably end in disaster. Last season (2022) saw a return of large adult LaHave river salmon exceeding the 20-year average. Our membership is growing, and so too the number of people and volunteers determined to chart a path for recovery. The fight for LaHave River Salmon is a game of attrition, and we’re just getting started!
My go-to setup for Salmon fishing:
Thank you to Redington for supporting this conservation angler story. If you are looking for a salmon setup, find them HERE.
Be sure to check out Kate on Instagram @katesherin.