ASF Rivernotes July 15, 2016

ALERTS For Mid-July, 2016

Striped Bass showing far upstream in the Southwest Miramichi

Reports have been coming in to ASF of striped bass being found far upstream, not just at Blackville, but around Boiestown, 67 km further upstream. This is where the bass in the photo was caught July 14, 2016. There are more reports of the fish now well above Boiestown as well. Concerns are being raised about their impact on juvenile Atlantic salmon as the numbers of striped bass have exploded in the past few years.

If you have encountered striped bass near Blackville, or further upstream, we would like to hear from you. Send reports with details and/or photos to asfweb@nbnet.nb.ca.

The Best Live Release Techniques – As temperatures rise it becomes increasingly important that anglers play their part in assuring the health of the Atlantic salmon by practicing the very best techniques of live release. Don't play the salmon too long. Keep it in the water. Hold it gently facing upstream. And definitely do not bring it in to the very shallow edge of the river. Your reward? Watching an incredible creature swim away to continue its journey - perhaps not just this year, but in future years.

Jim Lawley, an ASF Director, prepares to release an Atlantic salmon on the Grand Cascapedia. Photo Dan Greenbergy 2016


Labrador, together with Ungava Bay in northern Quebec, remains the least assessed areas – and perhaps the least understood. In the last several years the numbers of returning salmon appear to be increasing in Labrador, but all four of the rivers being assessed are quite closely bunched and in the southern portion of Labrador.

And then there are rivers like the Sand Hill that seem to fluctuate wildly in the returns. This year to July 10 there have been 82 grilse and 200 large salmon reported. In 2015 the grilse run was more than twice as strong, with 196 to the same date, but the large salmon numbers were just a bit higher, at 220.  In some years the combined count has been up to 1,500 or more.

With the colder river conditions, and perhaps with shorter migration routes with all their hazards, the salmon have been coming in nicely.

Below are two “on-the-water” reports from the Eagle River this year.

Dwight Lethbridge of Pratt Falls Lodge notes:

We had a great week of fishing from July 1-8 with a very good return of large salmon - 95% large fish hooked and some of those very big fish.  Largest one successfully landed and released measured in at 38” long and 21” girth.  This week we are starting to see more grilse, but it does not seem to be the main run yet.  Guests and guides have reported seeing quite a lot of fish moving through but angling success has been good, but not great for this time of year.  The river has dropped significantly but is still quite high for mid-July, and cold at 62-64F.

Hadley Angell, a Pratt's Falls Lodge guide, releases on the Eagle River a healthy large salmon for a client on July 5, 2016.

Gabe Cavallaro of Rifflin Hitch Lodge

Eagle River, although still above normal flow, seems to be settling down. Heavy rains last week pushed the river back up to mid-June levels. Water temperature quickly warming as weather conditions warmer than this time last year. Big salmon are moving upriver quickly but very few grilse being caught. Good fishing conditions at middle Eagle River & Paradise River.

Muddy Bay Brook, another of the assessed streams, appears to be having a good year. To July 10 it had 30 grilse and 3 large salmon, making it far better in grilse than in 2015 when there were only 7 grilse and 3 large salmon by the same date. Still early days.

Paradise River has had 11 grilse and 4 large salmon , compared with 9 grilse and 1 large salmon in 2015.

It remains still too early on English River to check returns – nothing so far, and last year by the same July 10 date there were only 2 large salmon.


In the past few days ASF's Don Ivany has been in Labrador. On his way north he took a few minutes to talk with anglers at the Castor River. The reports were uniformly good, with lots of water recently, but things slowed somewhat this week with a few days of hot weather. Elsewhere in the Northern Peninsula he notes that there appear to be good runs this year.

DFO in Newfoundland has been wonderful in posting counting fence data in a timely manner. The data for July 10 shows that good runs are continuing across the island except for the rivers on the south coast.

The Exploits this year is doing well, although not quite up to its very best numbers. For some reason the Terra Nova is outperforming its past numbers with 1,892 to July 10, vs. 506 in 2015. That means the 2016 run is about 3.5 times that of 2015, and better than most years in the historic record.

With a return of 3,466 to the Harry's River, this river that is so important to large salmon in western Newfoundland is doing better than the 3,268 in 2015 that was even seen as an encouraging number last year.

Western Arm Brook deserves a mention with the 854 salmon returning putting this year up towards the top of this river's returns.

The centre and east of the island received rain on Sunday, and fishing reports are saying the Gander River is doing well.

Salmonier – Rick Maddigan has this to say about the Salmonier River so far in 2016:

Now I can only speak for the Salmonier but it was a great year there. Fish have been running through steadily from June 15 until now. Its just slowed as the water is now low and warmed up a bit. Angling success was good. I spent about 10 days at the main pool on the Upper Salmonier  ( Murphy's Falls ) and only saw 1 fish retained; 50 - 60 released. We certainly have come a long way. I think the good runs on this river reflect the amount of release angling.

Angling the Salmonier River in June this year. Good water levels, but now warming up. Photo Rick Maddigan

Nova Scotia


Greg Lovely noted on Monday:

We did indeed get some badly needed rain. The water level at present is good, but dropping fast. Mornings are cool, but days heat up in a hurry. Hopefully we have 2 or 3 good days of fishing.

At mid-week the anglers were having moderate success, as mentioned by Alex Breckenridge, "The Tying Scotsman":

The occasional fish was reported last week, mainly by anglers fishing up river. With the rain on Monday the river was fairly packed with anglers on Tuesday.  We heard of five fish caught.

Bill Haley has a similar description of conditions:

We had rain on Sunday and the river was up and dirty Monday. By Tuesday the water was tea coloured and the water temperature was 14 C. Salmon were caught in many pools (Tidal, Libbis, several in the Forks, Barracks, etc.) . While salmon were being caught, there did not appear to be a large number entering the river. The water levels are now falling to a typical summer level.

Cheticamp River - René Aucoin gives an update on this fascinating river on the west side of Cape Breton:

The Cheticamp River has changed so much from last summer's Aug 22nd flood and the salmon do not seem to be using the same lies and pools. Fishing has been slow. I was seeing a fair number waiting ‎at the mouth of the river and we did get rain (15 mm) Monday into Tuesday. This was projected to be a slow year, going back to the impact of the Dec 2010 flood where electrofishing on the Margaree the following spring showed very poor egg survival. We had not had a really good rain since mid-June so still a few passage problems due to lower water. We have been working on this fish passage issue since 2014. If all goes well, the work should be completed this year.

La Have - Morgan Falls was reporting 30 large salmon and 3 grilse on July 12. Last year, as of July 15, there were 130 grilse and 14 large salmon. Given the numbers, one might wonder what the situation was this winter for grilse returning to this and other rivers.

New Brunswick

On July 12, 2016, Chip Richards enjoys a morning on the Cains River during the MSA Classic. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF


The trapnets being operated lower down in both the Southwest and Northwest Miramichi watersheds provide early information on Atlantic salmon coming into the system, and this week has seen salmon entering the rivers.

Nola Chiasson of the Miramichi Salmon Association notes:

It has been a good week at both Millerton (Southwest Miramichi) and Cassilis (Northwest Miramichi).  In Millerton numbers picked up from 20-30 on the weekend, to approximately 50 on Monday, 90 yesterday and 60 today. Cassilis has had a steady 10 – 20 each day. These traps catch approximately 7-10% of the run going up the river so 90 salmon in the trap could represent 900-1285 fish in the run. With these early results and numerous reports of anglers catching fish we are cautiously optimistic about the run this season.

On the Southwest Miramichi, the Dungarvon Fence counted 41 grilse and 52 large salmon to July 10, vs 51 grilse and 61 large salmon to the same date in 2015.

On the Northwest Miramichi the Barrier is reporting 48 grilse and 38 large salmon to July 10, vs. 76 grilse and 39 large salmon to the same date in 2015.

Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures says,

Water conditions are currently great and catching has been steady each day. Not huge numbers but steady

Kayla Mann on the North Branch Sevogle patiently waits to release her first bright salmon. Photo Mark Gautreau

It will be interesting what the next few weeks hold for the barrier counts as the salmon now coming in work their way upstream. Considerable heat is forecast, so it would not be surprising if many of the salmon slow their progress and find cool springs to hang around, but they haven't done so yet.

ASF's Bill Taylor has noted that some very big Atlantic salmon are being met on the Miramichi this year. One recent report is of a 27-pounder and another of about 35 lb. making an elegant escape.

On July 12, a moose crosses the Cains River behind Anne Marie Maclean. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Wayne O'Donnell of Rocky Brook Camp says,

Salmon numbers are okay, but moderate, with large salmon outnumbering grilse to this point in time. The water temperature is still excellent, around 57F., while water levels are dropping back towards high summer levels. We are finding the salmon have no need to hold in cool water pools yet.

Mile 30 Pool on North Pole Stream. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

ASF's Nathan Wilbur, who has talked with many anglers and camp managers this week says:

By most accounts, there appears to be a good run of fish moving upriver. It seems they've finally decided to come in, after 10 days of perfect water and cool weather. Fishing reports have picked up as well, with camps and outfitters doing relatively well since about Saturday. With the warm temperatures this week, I expect the migration will slow and fish will soon be hunkering down in the cold water pools.

To keep an eye on the water temperatures of the Northwest, Little Southwest, and Southwest Miramichi rivers, visit the following website that shows real-time temperatures:


Remember, if you hook a fish and the water is over 20-21C (70F), play it quickly or break it off, for the benefit of the Atlantic salmon. When the water gets up in the 23C range, think twice about casting a line.


There have been good fishing reports from the Restigouche, including tributaries, over the past two weeks. We will know more details on actual numbers after they conduct the mid-season swim through assessments.

Atlantic salmon have been moving into some of the smaller rivers in NB as well.

The Jacquet River in northern NB has reported 23 fish to July 10, compared to 3 to the same date last year. The bulk of the run on the Jacquet typically comes in on good water in September or October, but these early arrivals are certainly encouraging. You can visit the Jacquet River barrier to observe salmon – BIG salmon! – it is located just off route 11 near Belledune.

On the Nepisiguit, Bob Baker says a few salmon are showing, with an occasional leap. The counting fence is near completion and should be in operation by the beginning of next week, he adds.


ASF's Charles Cusson notes:

A reminder to anglers fishing Quebec Rivers, take the time to report your releases in order to have the most accurate angling statistics and for the river managers to accurately calculate angling success.

Godbout & Moisie - Some of the most interesting salmon news is coming out of these and other rivers along the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with very good returns, and large, healthy salmon. Some are saying that on the Moisie, this year is the best of the past five for salmon.

These are the moments remembered for a liftetime. Don O'Brien angling on the Bonaventure River out of Salmon Lodge. 2016.

York, Dartmouth and St-Jean Rivers

Results as of July 9 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 was not available at this time.

Another moment of sheer intensity and focus on the Salmon Branch of the Grand Cascapedia River.
Photo Dan Greenberg 2016


Penobscot - River temperatures are ranging from 20.5°C to just under 23°C, and that is likely to slow down the returns to the Milford Fishlift. To July 10 there have been 481 Atlantic salmon at Milford, compared with 695 in 2015 and 222 in 2014.

Most other rivers in Maine have very low counts. The Kennebec has 34 large salmon and one grilse.  The Saco has had 2 large salmon, the Androscoggin 7 large salmon and the Narraguagus 3 large salmon.