I've got one day (July 1st) to hit a river within a few hours drive of Quebec City. Being a holiday weekend, I am assuming that the Gaspe rivers will be quite busy. Are the north shore rivers quieter than the Gaspe rivers in general? Specifically thinking about the Escoumins and the Matapedia.
You could also try the Rimouski river. It's nearer to Quebec than the Matapedia and the Escoumins. I would say about 3 hours from Quebec on the south shore, 1 hour after Riviere-du-Loup. They have a great start. You can go to the river's office and ask for Francis to show you some pools. If he can, he'll go with you for about an hour, I would say.
Their website is only in french but you can get an idea of what to expect.
There is also the Mitis a little north of Rimouski but July 1st will be opening day and it will be crowded for sure!
Water levels are falling almost everywhere in the last few days but I think your best bet for a short drive and a chance to land a salmon would be on the Rimouski.
IMHO you can't get closer AND with very decent fishing on the Riviere du Gouffre . A nice little river with well indicated pools
Their site here http://www.rivieredugouffre.qc.ca/
About 60 miles east of Quebec on the 138
I drove past there last evening on my way back from the superb Riviere aux Rochers and the river looked excellent as they got a push of rain yesterday . Unlike the Rimouski, ya'll find some VERY secluded pools !
They've also got a dedicated Steelhead fishery .
A bit further down the road is the Riviere Malbaie and I believe Hitcher here on Spaidpages will be fishing there on the 1st .
Gaaaa! Too many rivers! Too many choices! The Gouffre looks quite nice as well. As far as traveling goes, I have no problem driving 5-6 hours one way for good water. The problem with that is that it opens up about 50 rivers! Where to begin...?
If you go north shore, you have Gouffre, Malbaie, St-Jean Saguenay, Sainte-Marguerite, Riviere-a-Mars, Escoumins.
If you go south shore, you have Rimouski, Matane, Mitis, maybe Ste-Anne if you can get in with 48hours draw, Matapédia.
You are right, so many choices, but south shore, in my opinion, has more good pools to offer. Drawback is, the're more crowded...
On Gouffre river, chances to catch big rainbows are also there.
Well, I guess I didn't make it easier