Mackerel Fishing in Halifax Harbour?

Lure of Urban Fishing Draws Anglers to Halifax Waterfront

After completing a long week at his job as a patient attendant in the emergency room at the QEII, Simon Niduaza is aware that he doesn’t need to go far to seek solace away from the bustling hospital.

He gathers his belongings, heads towards the Halifax waterfront, situated close to Pier 21, and locates an Adirondack chair to recline in.

Upon arrival, he unwinds his fishing line and casts it into the harbor.

“Every time I get a day off, I come here to fish and relax,” Niduaza says.

Simon Niduaza is just one of many people who regularly fish for mackerel on the Halifax harbour. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

On a recent sunlit day, he basked in the sunshine while also reeling in fish. Before long, the mackerel began to bite, and in no time, he had a cooler filled with fish: enough for his week’s dinners and plenty extra to share with family and friends in the local Filipino community.

He started his fishing adventures here in 2017, alongside his father, shortly after moving from the Philippines to Halifax.

Since then, it has become a regular hobby, one that he observes to be quite popular among fellow immigrants who visit places such as the waterfront, Dingle Park on the Northwest Arm, the Bedford Basin, and the Dartmouth side of the harbor for fishing.

When Niduaza began solo fishing on days when his father was occupied with work, he recalls the challenge of enticing the mackerel that had previously been plentiful.

However, his wharf neighbor, a gentleman from China, generously shared his secret: the effectiveness of a shiny Sabiki hook in luring the fish.

In a remarkably short span, he found himself exceeding the daily limit of 20 set by the food fishery, causing him to release some of his catch back into the ocean. While recreational mackerel fishing in Nova Scotia doesn’t require a license, each fish caught must measure longer than 26.8 centimeters.

Niduaza says he’s had no trouble catching plenty of mackerel in the harbour, especially after getting some advice from a fellow fisherman. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Mackerel Fine to Eat, Says Angler

Fishing is a versatile pastime. It can serve as a wonderful means to enjoy peace and solitude, while also fostering a sense of community.

On Facebook, urban anglers share their preferred locations and offer advice, such as casting lures further out or angling during high tide.

Fishing within the city can sometimes be met with skepticism from long-time Haligonians who’ve heard tales of harbor pollution, but Niduaza assures that the mackerel he catches are exceptionally clean.

Moreover, fishing provides an excellent means to reduce food expenses in a time when grocery store inflation is significantly impacting our budgets.

“Sometimes people will say, I don’t eat fish in there because they’re dirty,” said Niduaza, who says he strips, cleans, and inspects the fish for worms before cooking it. 

“They’re healthier than eating fast food and stuff and wasting your money on food that sometimes doesn’t taste good at all.”

Fishing in Halifax is popular with people who want to catch their own food. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Mackerel Visit Harbour Each Year

As stated by Alex Ritchie, the guide for a fishing tour departing from the Halifax waterfront, people have been engaging in mackerel fishing in the harbor for a considerable period of time.

“I remember fishing mackerel as a kid. It’s always gone on,” he said.

Furthermore, mackerel from the harbor are generally safe for consumption since these fish spend only a limited time in the area each year.

“They come in for the two months and then they’re somewhere else,” he said. “They just swim on the surface, they’re not a bottom feeder.”

Ritchie mentions that we’re rapidly approaching the height of mackerel season.

However, if you’re interested in catching Atlantic cod or pollock, you’ll need to venture farther out, according to Ritchie, as these species are not found within the harbor.

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