By Hook or By Stick...fishing and golfing in
Newfoundland & New Brunswick, Canada

By Bill Nestor

Some golfers do not fish.  Some fishers do not golf.  But a surprising number do both, and the Canadian Atlantic Provinces are heaven for them.  The renowned Restigouche River in northern New Brunswick is a favorite of PGA golfers Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson when in search of Atlantic salmon.  Numerous people in Newfoundland shared that Phil Michelson is a regular fly-fishing visitor.

Known for its Atlantic salmon fly-fishing, the Miramichi River in New Brunswick is a favorite of golfers and fishermen.
Photo by: Web Young

If there were few great shots in my game while visiting the Maritimes, there were enough to keep me coming back.  And each salmon catch was as good an endomorphic rush as sinking a 12-foot birdie putt.  That will keep me coming back, too.

How similar are the two sports? I make as many or more casts in four and a half hours of fishing as swings during eighteen holes of golf, and both sports can beget frustration.  They beg for skill improvement and require patience and perseverance.  Each allows time for reflection and can produce that most elusive catch--serenity.
 
But the most striking common characteristic for those that play golf or fly-fish is passion.  The passion of New Brunswick and Newfoundland people for nature and land is also apparent in conversation and lifestyle.  This was true with virtually every person I met in the provinces, all warm and friendly, in a land abundant in wildlife and natural beauty. 

New Brunswick

While in New Brunswick I played St. Andrews by the Sea, Fox Creek, Kingswood, and Royal Oaks and fished the Miramichi and Restigouche rivers. 

GOLF:
 
The Tudor-style Fairmont Algonquin hotel in St Andrews-By-The Sea, built in the late 1800s, continues to offer a resting place from which to play the Algonquin Golf Course and enjoy old world hospitality with all the modern amenities, including a first-rate spa.

The Algonquin Golf Course  along the scenic Passamaquoddy Bay

The golf course plays along scenic Passamaquoddy Bay.  Director of Golf Jason Porter credits Thomas McBroom's redesign in 2000.  “He's created a seaside jewel.  The ocean serves as a backdrop on eight of eighteen holes. The majestic views and natural setting make it difficult to keep your eyes on the ball." 

Be sure to do so when playing this course.  The routing requires skillful shot making to avoid potential trouble waiting from downhill lies, forced carries and baleful hazards. (fairmont.com/algonquin) 

Fox Creek Golf Club, cut from its natural landscape setting, is a well-maintained sculptured  layout with bent grass tees, fairways and greens that blend congenially with the land.

A view of the Fox Creek Golf Course

Acclaimed Canadian architect Graham Cooke designed the 6,900-yard track, opened in 2005, with 66 sizable, strategically placed bunkers and five sets of tees.

“The conditioning and playability, along with the clubhouse, restaurant and exceptional hospitality deliver a very comfortable and enjoyable place to play and dine,” said Fox Creek's Governor Fred Veniot.  “The practice facilities and cart GPS compliment our offerings.” (www.foxcreekgolfclub.ca)

ABOVE: Kingswood golf club features a 30-foot waterfall on the 14th hole.
BELOW: Royal Oaks Golf Club was Rees Jone's first design outside the U.S.

Kingswood Golf has an 18-hole and nine-hole executive course track, both creations of Graham Cooke and Darrell Huxham, on terrain unique to Atlantic Canada.  A 30-foot waterfall on the fourteenth hole, rock out croppings, pot bunkers and marshland, provide a visually pleasing round loaded with challenge.

The combination of beauty and playability has brought both Kingwood courses honors from Golf Digest and Travel & Leisure Golf. (www.kingswoodpark.com)

Royal Oaks Golf Club, Rees Jones' first design outside of the U.S., was built on a former horse ranch. It plays 5,200 yards from the forward tees to almost 7,200 yards from the tips.

The distinctive landscape features large lakes surrounded by rolling dunes, tee to green bent grass, strategic bunkering, and challenging approaches.

Two story townhouses, condominiums and single-family detached homes are part of Royal Oak's upscale residential development.  A new clubhouse opened in 2008. (www.royaloaks.nb.ca)

FISHING:
Province-owned and operated legendary Larry's Gulch is a renowned fishing lodge on the Restigouche River in northern New Brunswick. The bank setting on high, overlooking the rushing water is picture perfect.  It is a quintessential backcountry Atlantic salmon fly-fishing experience.

Larry's Gulch is a renowned fishing lodge on the Restigouche river
Atlantic salmon fly-fishing on the Restigouche river
Photo by: Josh Tompkins

Although still used for provincial business, it is now available to public patrons who can pay to stay, dine, and fish.  They account for 50% of available slots.  Three days fishing and two nights stay for two people including all meals with a guide is $3,375. (www.larrysgulch.ca)

Another New Brunswick river well known for its Atlantic salmon fly-fishing is the Miramichi River.  The Upper Oxbow Outdoor Adventure, a family homestead in Sillikers, offers a homespun lodge encounter of living, dining and fishing.  (www.upperoxbowsalmonfishing.com)

The nearby Mi'kmaq Nation reservation incorporates a new interactive interpretive center and 3,000-year-old preserved aboriginal heritage archaeological sites at Metepenagiag, the oldest continuously occupied village in the province. 

Fishing the Mi'kmaq home hole on the Miramichi with a native guide who baked bread in the sand, on a cool, damp and rainy day stands out as one of life's most treasured moments. (www.metepenagiag.com)

Newfoundland

In Newfoundland I teed it up at Humber Valley, Gander and Terra Nova and caught salmon at Humber Falls and on the Gander River. 

GOLF:
The condition of the River course at Humber Valley Resort was the best I found in the province, since June and July throughout the Maritimes were cooler and rainier than usual and the courses were not quite prime.  But Humber had a lushness and growth typically found in late July.

Humber Valley Resort's #10 hole of the River course

Doug Carrick's signature design favors expansive fairways at Humber Valley.  Well-protected, bunkered greens and undulating putting surfaces add significantly to the challenge.  The greens were fast in comparison to all others in Newfoundland and the putting lines were true at this tee to green bent grass track. 

Many holes combined elevation drops to rolling valley fairways that spread out broadly from the tee.  The fairway width and cascading terrain of holes overlooking Deer Lake and the Humber River accentuated both their length and loftiness.

The par 72 layout stretches to 7,199 yards from the back tees.  It was Score Golf Magazine's Best New Course in Canada 2007. 

“While playing the River course, you can stop on a hole running along the water and throw a line for Atlantic salmon,” said head golf professional Jamie Digby, who loves to do both.

Fishing for Atlantic salmon in Canada
Photo by: Josh Tompkins

The high-end exclusive four seasons luxury destination attracts an international market of second homebuyers and visitors who enjoy golf, fishing, tennis as well as skiing and other winter sports.  (www.humbervalley.com)

Terra Nova Golf Resort occupies 220 acres of land on the shore of Clode Sound, in Bonavista Bay.  Fingers of the North Atlantic Ocean touch the island's boreal forest at Terra Nova National Park.  The resort sits within the park, adjacent to salmon rivers and the ocean.

Its par 71 Twin Rivers course stretches to 6, 545 yards and the nine-hole Eagle Creek Course appeal to all levels.  Twin Rivers winds its way along scenic ocean settings, secluded spruce-lined fairways, open links style and river holes that are very playable and aesthetically appealing.

Robbie Robinson's nine opened in 1984.  Architect Doug Carrick's nine was added in 1991.  Carrick's touch is obvious on holes displaying his characteristic accommodating fairways.  But the forgiving landing areas are more than balanced by strategically placed, protected, and bunkered greens.

Eagle Creek was named after the bald variety frequently seen over this nine-hole gem.  The par 35, 2,593 yard picturesque routing, designed by native Robert Walsh in 2001, is a favorite of players wanting a challenge or shorter round.

Eagle Creek golf course is a picturesque 9-hole layout

Manager Scott Hatchard, avid golfer and salmon fisherman said, “The contrast of manicured fairways and greens set against the rugged beauty of the forest, rivers, and ocean, complete with moose, bald eagles and salmon fishing, make a round at Twin Rivers or Eagle Creek and stay at Terra Nova Golf Resort a unique and unforgettable experience.”

A visit, stay and play at the golf resort Is sure to please.  Terra Nova Resort has 83 rooms and suites, two and three bedroom chalets, dining room and pub.   Rooms are spacious and comfortable.  The food is tastefully prepared.
 
Adding to the beautiful natural national park setting, golf and lodging is Terra Nova's ideal location for exploring the province's cultural and natural jewels. It is close to icebergs, whale watching, sea kayaking, hiking, theater, historical sites and salmon fishing.  (www.terranovagolf.com)

Gander Golf Club's par 71, 18-hole course sits on a scenic setting of rolling terrain overlooking nearby 35-mile long, four-mile wide Gander Lake.

The Gander River stole my heart and touched my soul.
“Gander's distant and bucolic views, variety of holes playing both up and downhill, large bunkers and greens provide a very playable yet challenging routing."

It began as the vision of a local priest and physician 45 years ago.  In 1967 charter memberships were sold.  Eight years later, after funding and a 99-year lease were secured, local volunteers began clearing the land by hand.  The original holes three, four, five were built.  Holes one, two, eight, nine were added in 1978.  The natural topography of gentle hills was maintained and manually sculpted fairways, greens and tees were etched from existing woodland.  

Years later members armed with a Douglas Carrick plan convinced the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency to fund the project.  The dream was realized when the present day 18 opened in 2001.   

“Gander's distant and bucolic views, variety of holes playing both up and downhill, large bunkers and greens provide a very playable yet challenging routing.   The local golfing community and visitors play more than 25,000 rounds annually.  This is a very family friendly club,” said Bert Peddle, Executive Member- Greens Chairman, who now mostly plays golf and no longer fishes.  (www.gandergolfclub.ca)

FISHING:

The passion for nature in the provinces emanates in conversation, demeanor and lifestyle.
 

Fishing guides Marcel on the Restigouche, Betty on the Miramichi, Bud on the Humber, and Ken on the Gander are all students of nature, history, fishing and adherents to an ecological conscientiousness.

Bill Nestor relaxing on the  Restigouche River
Photo by: Josh Tompkins

The Gander River stole my heart and touched my soul.  Traveling many miles down river through a series of small rapids to a restored 1947 lodge in a pristine wilderness setting washed away the vestiges of travel.  I fly-fished for salmon from morning to night, floated on the river, sat at the waters edge watching fish jump, waited for moose to wade, and was mesmerized by the magic of sunsets, the setting and seclusion.  It is a mystical place. 

“The river is more to me than a place to catch fish,” said fishing guide, singer and, songwriter Ken Raymond. Listening to the words and music from his CD, "Tunes From The River," confirms his unconstrained ardor, appreciation and desire to understand the ecosystem and preserve the river and a way of life.

Jacquie, an engineer and mother of three, who travels from her New Brunswick home to fish dawn till dusk on the Gander with a passion reserved for lovers, fishing and golf, said, “I can't get enough time on the river.  The solitude, opportunity for reflection, throwing a line and catching fish is ecstasy.”  Although a relative newcomer, she exemplifies a frequently observed ethereal reverence for fly-fishing.  

Fly fishing in Canada is the best!
Photo by: Web Young

Dr. R. traveled to the Gander from St. John.  The experienced angler still lovingly pursues the oft- elusive salmon.  Doc said, “I look forward to immersing my mind, spirit and body into the water to seek the catch, reflect on life and times, and be one with the line and the ebb and flow of the river.” 

Hooking and landing a 20-pound salmon or a five-pound grilse-- working it, watching it leap from the water and run out the line, feeling the rushing water flowing beneath you under a clear, blue sky on a pristine river is phenomenal- much like getting a hole-in-one. 

Bill Nestor writes about golf, travel and lifestyle from his home in Vermont.
nestor@sover.net


For More Information:
Newfoundland/Labrador - www.NewfoundlandLabrador.com
New Brunswick Tourism- www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca
Marine Atlantic Ferry- www.marine-atlantic.ca
 
DISTANCES:
  • North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Argentia, Newfoundland- Approx. 14 hours
  • North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Port Aux Basque, Newfoundland 5.5 - 7 hours
  • Bay Ferries- High speed CAT ferry- www.catferry.com
  • Yarmouth, NS to Bar Harbor, Maine 3 hours or Portland, ME 5.5 hours