An 80-year-old Nova Scotia man credits a total stranger with saving his life after he fell and broke his femur during a fishing trip at a remote lake.

Charles Jackson was fishing at Gairloch Lake, about 150 kilometres northeast of Halifax, on Tuesday. On the other side of a tree, fisherman Paul Hart, 73, was casting his line.

When Hart decided to leave for the day, he said that something seemed odd. He sat in his van and looked at the water, but he couldn’t see the other man’s bobber.

“So I shut the van off and walked over to tell him there was no fish,” Hart told CTV Atlantic.

That’s when he saw Jackson, who had fallen down a steep embankment and collapsed near the shore.

“When I looked down, he was lying down there on the ground moaning. Terrible pain.”

Both men had cellphones, but neither could get reception in the isolated area. Hart ran over to a nearby cottage to seek help.

After finding a phone, Jackson was rushed to Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow. Doctors told him that he broke the top of his femur and shattered it in three places.

Hart’s hunch that something wasn’t right may have saved Jackson’s life. The area where he fell is at a steep incline not visible to cars passing by on the road.

Jackson believes the stranger’s instinct was a sign from his late wife, according to his daughter Leanne Jackson.

“We lost mom in August, and he said she was watching over him and she sent Paul over to check on him,” Leanne Jackson said.

“Dad says, ‘If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here.’”

But Hart is wary to take credit for the rescue. He said that, due to the men’s closeness in age, the tables could’ve easily been turned.

“I didn’t do nothing special. I don’t want a whole lot of credit, or nothing like that because it’s just something that happened. He’s 80 years old and I’m 73. It could’ve happened to me,” he said.

Hart plans to visit Jackson in hospital.

With a report from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh