ASF Rivernotes 29 July 2016

To go to the list of closurses on the Miramichi River, click here

A Lesser Known River of Great Beauty

Nabisipi Falls has the remnants of a fish ladder, but otherwise a pristine bit of salmon wilderness to explore. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF

Drive east of Sept Iles almost as far as the road goes and you will find the Nabisipi River. A great river when it comes to Atlantic salmon and has all the beauty a boreal forest Canadian Shield river has to offer.

The Pourvoirie Nabisipi UnapeuHipu Outfitter on the Nabisipi River is under new management as of 2016. This camp on the Nabisipi has set a goal to keep better track of sport fishing captures and hopefully the state of the migrations via a refurbished counting infrastructure.  One interesting fact about Nabisipi salmon is that they arrive in early to mid-July and provide good angling to mid-September.

Hervé Malec releases a beautiful Atlantic salmon back to the Nabisipi R. on July 20, 2016. Photo Martin Silverstone/ASF


Counts by way of in-river assessments and data from fish counting infrastructure will be tabulated this week to determine if numbers indicate that a limited harvest can take place as of August 1.  Details should be available next week.

** Data used in the Quebec river notes are sourced from various river websites, social media and Quebec government sources.

York, Dartmouth and St-Jean Rivers
Results as of July 27 are available at:


The in-river count was performed on the York on July 10.  The number of salmon counted (810) seems to indicate enough abundance to continue harvest until August 31.  Quota of fish is not available at this time.

Patapedia River
On July 1, due to the lack of scientific data, the CGRMP  decided to continue live release of large salmon until the season ends on August 31.  This decision was taken in accordance with the new Quebec 10-year salmon management plan.

Kim Pilon caught and released her very first Salmon weighing in at 25 lbs at pool 80 on the Grand Cascapedia.

Data collected from the in-river count in the Matapedia was just completed. The result is that the river will continue mandatory live release of all large salmon until the end of the season.

Pierre Tipple, Director of ASF's Ottawa Fall Run Dinner, releases his first wild Atlantic salmon with Anthony Patterson, on the York River. Photo: Charles Cusson/ASF


Eagle River
Don Hutchens was fishing on the Eagle River a few days ago, and these notes:
Water levels are good. Large run of large fish 20-25lbs. Best in years. Grilse run not in yet; they are about two weeks late so far. Five of seven anglers hooked large fish, most angled 3 or 4 fish in the 20-25lb range.

From other reports, water levels and temperatures are excellent on the Eagle River.

English River
DFO’s counting fence numbers to July 24 are showing interesting numbers – 113 grilse and 81 large salmon in 2016 vs 53 grilse and 27 large salmon to the same date in 2015. The numbers are also much higher than any five-year average.

Sand Hill River
Somewhat fewer grilse to this point, but they could be late. To July 24 there were 688 grilse and 793 large salmon, compared with 1184 grilse and 682 large salmon in 2015. Certainly this river is capable of far higher returns, usually of grilse.

Muddy Bay Brook
To July 24, 124 grilse and 14 large salmon, vs. 130 grilse and 12 large salmon in 2015.

Paradise River
53 grilse and 22 large salmon to July 24, vs. 91 grilse and 15 large salmon in 2015. There have been years when this river achieved far higher returns.


It would appear that the runs were a bit earlier this year in many rivers, and now the 2015 return counts have caught up, except for the west coast rivers that are still doing very well.

Water levels in Southwestern Newfoundland have been a little on the low side and water temperatures have remained low which means fishing has been a little slow.  However there is still a good run of fish on many of these rivers including Harry’s River which has been fishing  well up to now.
Similarly there is a good sign of fish in Codroy River, particularly on the North Branch that has been fishing well.
Low water levels and warm water temperatures on the Humber have slowed fishing on the upper section of the river, above Deer Lake, but there is still a reasonably good sign of fish in the river. Water temperatures are better on the lower Humber (below Deer Lake) but fishing has been spotty.
Persistent high water levels over the past couple of weeks on the Gander River have resulted in slow fishing as most fish that are still entering the system have not been hanging up but going straight upstream.  However, the river has been dropping steadily and is now beginning to reach good water levels again for angling.  One veteran angler, Dave Vardy, reports that fishing has improved significantly on the river in the past few days.  He is now seeing a lot more fish and reports having hooked several fish on his last trip down the river just recently, including a 12-pounder, all of which were released by him.

Turning to the official assessments below, the July 24 returns show that on the Exploits the return of 19,218 is slight below last year’s 20,374.

Terra Nova – This river is being a bit of surprise as it is continuing at double the return of last year and far above any multi-year average you compare it to. The 1984 to 1991 average was 771 for example.

The south coast rivers Conne and Garnish continue to lag.

On the west coast, Harry’s River has dropped below last year, but is still doing well at 4,302 vs. 4,498.

Torrent River is holding its own at 2,862 vs 2,396, and is roughly in line with the averages noted.

Western Arm Brook, at 1,304, is continuing to outdo the 1,014 in 2015 and the averages noted.

The counting fence on Western Arm Brook, in the lower part of the Northern Peninsula of NL. Photo Don Ivany/ASF

Due to water levels and early cold conditions, it has been a tough year for angling in much of Newfoundland, but the Atlantic salmon appear to be doing fine with the existing conditions.

Nova Scotia

Margaree - Greg Lovely provides an overview this week:

Same old story....we need a good dump of rain for a few days. It rained here on and off for one day,but barely increased the water levels in the river. Waking up to 19C and daytime highs of 34 (humidex) is not making for very good fishing. An old fisherman on the river told me years ago "if you feel lethargic because it's too warm, so do the salmon." It is a time to go do something else.

LaHave - Morgan Falls really has had poor returns this year, with the question continuing on where the grilse went. The July 21 numbers, the last available, are 30 large salmon and 3 grilse.

New Brunswick

Canoes at Montgomery Bridge on the Little Main Restigouche River July 23, 2016. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Miramichi -

CLOSURES! - The main news on the Miramichi is the closure of 25 cold water pools due to high temperatures and low water.

The list of cold water pools closed can be found on this DFO page:


The Dungarvon Barrier on the Southwest Miramichi is reporting to July 24 a total of 103 grilse and 79 large salmon, vs the 2015 returns of 102 grilse and 102 large salmon to the same date last year.

The Northwest Barrier is reporting to July 24 147 grilse and 63 large salmon, somewhat better than last year's 133 grilse and 55 large salmon to the same date.

From ASF's Director of New Brunswick Programs, Nathan Wilbur:

The good news is that finally in the second half of July, the run seems to be coming in, with decent trapnet counts and intermitted positive angler reports. The bad news is that the water temperature is creeping up too high to fish. Although the watershed did receive good rain late last week and there was a bump in water level, the water temperature essentially did not cool off. Normally a good rain would bring the temperatures down to fishable conditions at least for a few days. Since daytime temperatures are consistently above 23C and the water is not cooling down to below 20C overnight, DFO has implemented the Warm Water Protocol and closed 25 of the cold water pools.

This is a helpful measure to protect salmon taking refuge in coldwater areas. It typically doesn’t last too long, and with the next good rain anglers should be back on the water, in good angling conditions.  With a good run coming in in late July and considering there has been great fishing conditions, and fishing in August over the past several years, we are optimistic about how the angling will shape up for the latter half of the season once conditions improve.

Magaguadavic - To July 28 there have been two wild grilse, and no salmon farm escapees.

Upsalquitch River at Two Brooks Camp, 23 July 2016. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Restigouche - ASF's Nathan Wilbur has been on the Restigouche this week:

Over the past week I visited a number of camps, outfitters, and crown reserves on the Restigouche to discuss issues around salmon and of course, see how the fishing was. Most camp managers and crown reserve goers reported that they had left the river happy – meaning they caught or hooked salmon. Camps on the Restigouche and tributaries were either slightly above or slightly below the numbers of  last year’s catches. The water is now getting low but intermittent thunderstorms in the north keep providing bumps of water and fresh fish are still on the move. Water temperatures are excellent throughout the watershed, in the 14-17C range (high 50s to low 60s in Fahrenheit).

Mists rising on the Kedgwick River, July 23, 2016. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF


Penobscot - To July 25 there have been 287 large salmon and 215 grilse at the Milford Fish Lift. Last year to July 29, there were 645 large salmon and 70 grilse.

Kennebec - To July 25 there were 35 large salmon and 1 grilse counted at Lockwood Dam. To July 29, 2015 there were 25 large salmon and 2 grilse

The Androscoggin has had 7 large salmon, and the Narraguagus had had 3.