ASF Rivernotes 26 Oct 2017

The Week When the Rain Began to Fall

Finally! After nearly five months of drought and water so low that Atlantic salmon almost needed to grow legs, the showers have come. Depending on the area, somewhere around 100 mm of rain has fallen on our watersheds and more is forecast for next week.

Most areas, except perhaps Newfoundland, need every drop of this rain. In many cases it may well make the difference in Atlantic salmon reaching spawning streams and successfully laying their eggs that will incubate in the coming winter.

Prince Edward Island

Taylor Main notes the following about PEI conditions this week:

Reports from both anglers and local watershed groups across the Island continue to indicate strong runs of salmon returning to a number of systems.  Everyone is hopeful for rain later this week however the forecast seems to change daily back and forth between a good rain and practically nothing.  Here’s hoping!

Indian Bridge Pool on the Morell River on a sunny Saturday afternoon. 22 October 2017.  Photo Taylor Main

Deflector Gabions through Mooney’s Road section, Morell River. 21 October 2017.  Photo Taylor Main

Morell River

A large run of grilse which came through Thanksgiving weekend is now being followed up by what appears to be an increased return of both small and large salmon.  I’ve personally seen a number of fish in the 15 to 20 pound range and counted large numbers of fish at several pools across the eight kilometers of open scheduled river.  The numbers in which we have been seeing are unheard of since the bygone days of retention prior to 2008.  Anglers are still hooking a surprising number of fish despite the low water.  My best estimates would be around 20 fish having been hooked over the past three days alone.

A small Morell River salmon.  24 October 2017.  Photo Taylor Main

A school of small salmon stacked up on the Morell.  Note the large brook trout – not an uncommon occurrence! 24 October 2017.  Photo Taylor Main

Nova Scotia

Gerry Doucet, Director of the Antigonish Rivers Association has this to say:

The 2017 Fall Salmon Season will be remembered for what did not happen along the Northumberland Strait Rivers; no rain, no fish, summer-like temperatures, frustrated anglers.

West River Antigonish, showing the low water found even in this past week.  Photo Gerry Doucet

As we roll towards the last weekend of fishing in Nova Scotia, there is some precipitation in the forecast, albeit too little and too late. Many anglers have packed up their gear and put away their rods. A significant number of fishers have forgone buying a salmon license.

Some of the local organizations continue to work with DFO and Inland Fisheries collecting Broodstock for river stocking enhancement programs.

Members of the Antigonish Rivers Association seining one of the lower pools on the West River Antigonish last week.
Photo Gerry Doucet

Jesse Gravel also reported on some of the Northumberland Strait Rivers this week:

Angling has been tough. Water is very low but cold. Most fish are either moving with the tides or holding in the deep lower pools, with more and bigger fish stacking up heavily in lower pools. On a positive note, with all the fish holding up, many non-anglers have been given the rare opportunity to see some wonderful sights of schools of fish swimming and jumping, particularly around the Kerrs Mill Road Bridge.

A decent rain is in the forecast this week and should give anglers a few good days of fishing to end the season!

The West River - Pictou has been as low as the other Northumberland Strait Rivers. Photo taken Oct. 22, 2017. Hopefully the rains in the latter part of this week assist Atlantic salmon to move upstream to spawning areas.  Photo Jesse Gravel

New Brunswick

Everyone is hoping for a lift of water with the storms passing overhead.


The counting fences were operating through Oct. 19 and fish were still coming through.

At the Dungarvon Barrier there were 12 grilse and 5 large salmon between Monday, 16 Oct.  and Thursday, 19 Oct., bringing the totals to 136 grilse and 138 large salmon. Last year to 19 Oct. there were 211 grilse and 152 large salmon

At the Northwest Miramichi Barrier, there were no fish through in that pariod up to 19 Oct., with totals 137 grilse and 120 large salmon, compared with 290 grilse and 91 large salmon to the same date in 2016.

The water level graph from the Northwest Miramichi on the morning of Thurs., Oct. 26 shows the immediate impact of the rains on the system - and improving the system for the Atlantic salmon.

A major rise in water levels in the upper parts of the Miramichi system should improve the situation for Atlantic salmon. This graph goes to 9 am ADT, Thurs. Oct. 26.

Salmon angling in a water world of river, salmon and rain - Julia Carpenter releasing a salmon on the Sevogle River July 1 of this year. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Hammond River

Nathan Wilbur writes:

On Saturday afternoon, the Hammond River Angling Association (HRAA) held its 40th anniversary celebration event,  with speakers Alan Graham (ASF Canada Chairman), Peter Cronin (NBSC President), and Steve Delaney (HRAA President).

Speakers Alan Graham, Chairman of ASF (Canada), Steve Delaney, President of HRAA, and Peter Cronin,
New Brunswick Salmon Council President, at the HRAA 40th annivesary event. (Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF)

There were a number of founding members in the crowd, including Randy Giffin (91) and Harry Pickrell (99!). The speakers highlighted the formation of the HRAA, its programs, and its dedication to watershed and salmon conservation over the past 40 years.


Penobscot - At the Milford Fish Lift there have now been 526 large salmon and 309 grilse, as of Oct. 23. When fish found at the alternate upstream passage through Orono, one can add 8 more large salmon and 1 grilse, making a total of 844, the greatest return of Atlantic salmon since 2011.

Kennebec - At Lockwood Dam there have been counted 36 large salmon and 3 grilse, as of Oct. 23.