ASF RIVERNOTES - 28 Sept., 2017


Pacific Pink Salmon and Striped Bass Invade Salmon Country

The Pacific Pink salmon captured by a guide in Central Newfoundland's Gander River two weeks ago was a shock. Then another was found at Cartwright, Labrador and again in Labrador's Sand Hill River. No one is certain where these fish are coming from, but it's likely they are straying across the Atlantic. Up until 2001 Russia stocked pink salmon in the White Sea region, close to the Norwegian border. Over time they crept around Finnmark, down the Norwegian coast, and this summer showed up in the United Kingdom. Pink salmon were stocked once before unsuccessfully in Newfoundland, but they didn't take. Hopefully they do not become established this time.

Of greater concern is the striped bass explosion that is spreading this predator of salmon further than ever before. Not only have the numbers become massive in the Miramichi, but sightings have been recored in Labrador, as far north as the community of Black Tickle. They have also been spotted near Charlottetown, PEI.  Check out the photo below from Forteau. A tag on one of those Striped Bass indicated it might have originated in the Miramichi system.

Striped bass at Forteau in Labrador this year. Photo Russell Layden

If you have seen striped bass, or were angling and caught one, you can help us better understand what is happening. Even if you saw one or more of them earlier in the season, please fill out our short survey asking for basic details about the encounter. You can personally make a difference.

The Striped Bass form is available at:

Rain, Rain, Come Again...

In many parts of Eastern Canada and New England there has never been a September quite like this one. Earlier this week there was a blistering hot day in New Brunswick, reaching 33 C/90 F or more, feeling much hotter with the humidex.

While water temperatures have generally been dropping in salmon country, Sylvie Malo-Clark measured the Miramichi water at 16 C/62 F about a week ago. However, it is the lack of rainfall that has everyone concerned,

Correspondents from Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, are all chanting in chorus for more rain. With rain, there could be a considerable influx of salmon. The exception seems to be Newfoundland, where some rivers are actually high, and many others are at good levels.

New Brunswick

Nathan Wilbur, who is out on the rivers of northern New Brunswick this week, had this to sum up reports at mid-week:

There are reports of a few fresh fish coming into lower sections of the Nepisiguit and into the Miramichi system despite the low water. Water extremely low everywhere.

Nepisiguit River near Pabineau Falls on Tues., Sept. 26, 2017   Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

During the Week, Jacquet River has had just a single large salmon, and no grilse, bringing the total to 24 Sept. to 112 grilse and 41 large salmon. To the same date in 2016 there were 147 grilse and 205 large salmon. While grilse numbers are down in most rivers, one can likely focus on water levels as a contributing factor for lower large salmon returns this year.

Despite the very low water, Sylvie Malo-Clark managed to catch and release a salmon and a grilse the morning of Sept. 23, 2017 at Mountain Channel on the Miramichi. Both were caught with a Glitter Bear #8. The salmon were saying "We need some rain!" Photo Peter C. Clark


Brock Curtis of Curtis Miramichi Outfitters in Blackville has a "late update":

Not a lot of change in water levels. The river is still low. We are hearing of the odd salmon being caught but not in big numbers. It is currently raining and the trend all summer on the lower section of the river has been that we will get a day or two of quite good fishing after a rain then it slows down again.

Anglers are seeing lots of salmon showing and some think today there may be a trickle of fresh fish coming in. Word this past weekend was of salmon jumping in the estuary. I also saw over the weekend a few fish making their way up one of the tributaries. They were holding in a small pool but were gone in the morning.

For the first time this fall we had anglers from the U.K taking salmon on Fall patterns. Summer patterns have been the norm up to now.Everyone is commenting on the Fall colors.It always makes for a better angling experience.

Northwest Miramichi
- At the NW Mirmichi Barrier, no large salmon or grilse at all were recorded in the week ending Sept. 24. The tally continues to be 131 grilse and 120 large salmon, compared with 230 grilse and 81 large salmon in 2016.

Southwest Miramichi -  At the Dungarvon Barrier there were also no new salmon, so the count is 94 grilse and 122 large salmon to Sept. 24, compared with 151 grilse and 117 large salmon to the same date in 2016.

Ricky Irvine releasing Lance Smith's salmon. Upper Patapedia, Ristigouche Salmon Club, Aug. 2017. Photo Lance Smith

Magaguadavic River - In the southwest part of New Brunswick, there have been zero wild Atlantic salmon counted at the fishway in St. George so far.

Nova Scotia

Lewis Hinks, ASF's Director of Programs for Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, has been on Cape Breton Island this week.

Water levels on the Cheticamp and Margaree are low, but cooler nights have helped the rivers a little.

Greg Lovely says:

We are getting rain in the Margaree Valley now. I hope it lasts for a couple of days. There are a lot of fish being seen,especially down river. Hopefully we get a good rise in water levels so that the salmon can continue their migration upriver and spread the fish and fishermen out. Broodstock are now being gathered in the local rivers and so far so good.

View from the house deck across the Margaree Valley. Photo Greg Lovely

Alex Breckenridge
of The Tying Scotsman noted on Thursday morning:

A light rain started an hour or so ago and getting heavier. Tomorrow we are supposed to get 15-20mm depending on which website you check but the radar page is looking good.

Earlier this week he said the past weekend was busy, and early in the week he know of at least three Atlantic salmon brought in and released.

At Fence Pool on the Cheticamp River on Tues. Sept. 26, 2017.   Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

Northumberland Strait Rivers

Lewis Hinks

Northumberland Strait Rivers are all low. Anglers are anxiously waiting for and praying for rain.

The rain will be of moderate help in Cape Breton - and should also help Atlantic salmon in some of the Gaspé rivers.


Exploits - Fred Parsons of ERMA noted on Wednesday that they only had 12 new Atlantic salmon in the past week, bringing the present count to 15,556.

In previous years the counting was completed at the end of August, and in 2016 the total was 23,459.

Fred Parsons noted:

We have had a bit of rain, and are due for some more. So there should be enough water up on spawning areas in the headwaters for the salmon.

Angler on the lower Humber River earlier in the month - Sept. 6. Photo Don Ivany/ASF

- Tim Sharpe, a guide on the Gander, just this morning sent an update:

There have been a  lot of fish showing, but they have been pretty lazy towards taking a fly. I've had some good fishing these past few weeks, but as quick as the salmon angling becomes good, it's gone the other way again.

ASF's Don Ivany
reports on the Humber:

In early September there was some good fishing in the lower Humber, but it is now slow. A few very small grilse have been showing up, which is a bit unusual. Water levels on the Humber are now on the high side, and not many anglers are fishing.


Underwater release on the Bonaventure River - circa 2014.  Photo Claude Hamel

Charles Cusson,
ASF Director of Quebec Programs, says:

Rivers continue to be at record low levels. The recent warm weather seems to be subsiding somewhat and  rain in places like the Matapedia valley this week will help the fish hang on until spawning season begins.

A more in-depth report will be available next week to September 30th along with previous four-year numbers.

ASF President Bill Taylor midstream on the Bonaventure River in 2016.

Matane River

With four days left in the 2017 season to September 26, a total of 2,054 fish have been counted entering the river (1,265 salmon and 789 grilse).  Which is down from the 3,493 in 2016 at the same date (1,409 salmon and 2,084 grilse).

Madeleine River

To September 17, 896 fish were counted through the fishway (662 salmon and 234 grilse) compared to the 1,150 fish to September 14, 2016 (651 salmon and 499 grilse).  Closure of the fishway was as of the 17th and as of the 14th in 2016.

Matapedia River

Total Rod Days in 2017 are 5,596 compared to 4,663 at the same date in 2016.

To September 26, a total of 1,180 fish have been reported landed (548 released) which are better numbers when comparing to same date in 2016 when 939 fish were reported landed (423 released).  Angling continues to September 30th.

Classic Matapedia River scene from years past.  Photo Charles Cusson/ASF


One more grilse and one large salmon at the Milford Fishlift on the Penobscot, bringing the Milford count to 838.

Howland artifically created bypass, already being used by Atlantic salmon, on Piscataquis River, tributary of the Penobscot. The boulders are intentional, helping produce shelter and eddies during upstream movement. Also, narrower channel within wider channel. Photo Tom Moffatt/ASF