Wet Beginnings

There is no such thing as an average year in the North Atlantic region where the Atlantic salmon hangs out.

It appears 2017's salmon season began with torrential rain and cold temperatures in many different locations. Certainly that was the case in eastern North America where May appeared to have grey skies end to end.

Reading about the British Isles brought tales of gales and more rain. Nevertheless, wherever there was a salmon angling season open, individuals showed they were passionate to be out on the rivers by putting up with the wet weather.

However, perhaps the Kola Peninsula takes the cake this year, so to speak. Anglers went above and beyond in order to fish those rivers in the past ten days. Salmon anglers on the Kharlovka in the Atlantic Salmon Reserve put up with snow that blew horizontally at times, and also with the higher river levels due to a nearly unprecedented snow pack that was now melting. Below is one photo from the Kharlovka Company.

Kelt brought in for release on the Kharlovka.
Kelt brought in to be released on the Kharlovka. High water, snow perseverance, and plenty of tales to tell afterward.

Reflecting on the present northeastern North American conditions, we are fortunate. Especially now as the weather turns more summer-like.

A special note: Two of ASF's Regional Director, both contributing to this ASF Rivernotes, celebrated 25 years working as ASF field personnel this year. They work hard for the future of wild Atlantic salmon, and know their rivers well!

New Brunswick


We received DFO's first posting of the counting fences for the Dungarvon and the NW Miramichi, but the number so far was "ZERO" for both. More promising accounts are coming in from those that have been out on the water.

Brock Curtis of Blackville, who operate the Curtis Miramichi Outfitters, notes on June 8:

 I have some good news this week. I spent last weekend canoeing the lower stretch of the Southwest Miramichi. (It is 41 years since we started this canoe run). The conditions were perfect for early salmon runs and we had quite a few trout coming for both wet and dry fly. One of the guys in our canoe party spotted a bright salmon jumping on Saturday. Water levels are good and the foliage has that rich green early season look to it. Hatches are active and it is advisable to have fly repellent when on the river.

 It has been busier at the tackle shop this week. We have been hearing quite a few reports from anglers coming into the tackle shop that they are seeing and catching early bright salmon. With the weekend coming and more anglers on the water I expect we will be hearing even more reports of salmon being spotted and hooked on the fly.

Cains River at 6 pm, Thurs. June 8 - one of the very productive tributaries of the Southwest Miramichi. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Over on the Little Southwest Miramichi, Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures has this to say on Thursday:

Salmon starting to arrive in Northwest Miramichi system. Nice platinum ones.

It is just the very beginning of the salmon runs, but lets hope the cooler temperatures so far this year help them along.


So far there is some optimism on returns to the Restigouche, but as we say, early days. One source said mid-week:

Our fish count is up 68 percent over last year, which represents 15 more fish over the last six days.  Fish are also being caught on the upper stretches of the Restigouche.

People have been talking for a week or so about salmon coming in - but naturally they have not arrived in many of the secondary watersheds of the vast Restigouche system.

St. John River System

Camp Gagetown for several years has supported Fish Friends in several area schools, and this year the release of fry was into Lindsay Brook, which is on Camp Gagetown land. The fry in the cup appear a touch bewildered by the experience.

ASF's Nathan Wilbur was photographer.

Nova Scotia

In general the rivers along the eastern side of Nova Scotia received storm followed by storm all through May, so while levels have been dropping for a few days, the rivers are just starting to get on the low side.

East River on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia as seen about a week ago. Spring is definitely in the air.
Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF


Disturbing news in the past few days. Surveys by the Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation have found that the previously known alien species Chain Pickerel are eating significant numbers of smolt in Wentzell Lake. Not good news for a great river whose salmon run needs all the help it can get.


René Aucoin reports:

Good start to to the season with 15 to 20 fish hooked and released so far, but water alarmingly low despite all the rain in early May. Hoping for rain on the weekend.


Greg Lovely is saying of the nearby Margaree:

Water levels in the Margaree from the Forks Pool down are great for fishing, while the Northeast Branch could actually use some rain. There are some nice trout being hooked, and I have heard reports of a few fresh salmon being angled and released. I am very busy this week assisting with a fluvial geomorphic study of the Margaree river and it's tributaries. Water temperatures remain very cold for the anadromous fish entering the watershed.


On 8 June, 2017 a salmon angler tries out Falls Pool on the Causapscal River on the Gaspé Peninsula. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF

Of the rivers which are now open to angling most are reporting decent angling results with water levels and flows dropping quickly.  When next Wednesday - June 15 - rolls around, the number of rivers reporting in will begin to increase.

Local anglers and guides in the Matapedia valley are reporting a record-breaking season start with many big fish being landed and even more seen in the river.

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

Upper Causapscal River at noon on 8 June, 2017. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF



There has definitely been an uptick in the returns of wild Atlantic salmon counted at the Milford Fish Lift - 86 as of June 4. That places 2017 just barely behind 2016, and as the middle value of the past five years.

The Kennebec so far has nine large Atlantic salmon, and the Saco has two.


A dream for the weeks ahead - In another year, Bill Bryden took this great image of a leaping salmon on the lower Humber.

It is still early in the season - too early in the far north of the island.

Barb Genge of Tuckamore Lodge

We have lots of sea ice and no salmon in our river yet but they don't start arriving here until at least June 20th.

The Ice Map for June 7 shows that the rivers near the top end of the Northern Peninsula, and along the north coast of the island are still much affected by the ice. Hopefully the Strait of Belle Isle ice will leave by July 1, allowing smolts and kelts from rivers in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to make their way to feeding grounds in the Labrador Sea and near Greenland.

Don Ivany, ASF's Director of Programs for Newfoundland and Labrador echoes Barb Genge's observations on ice and salmon, but with some exceptions in the south:

Up the Northern Peninsula, besides the ice, the water flows are still too high. Besides, normally don't find Atlantic salmon in those rivers before June 15. The Torrent River is high, with a flow of 75 Cubic Metres per Second (CM/S), about triple the average flow.

The Humber is running at about 150 (CM/S), still too high for angling, and with a temp. of 9 C.

Down further, Harry's River is actually starting to get a bit low, but the temperatures are still low, and good for the salmon. So far, 46 salmon have been counted using the Didson Unit (a side-scan radar system).

In the Bay St. George area there are a few salmon around, but the rivers are beginning to get low. Not much rain in the past few days.

Long time fly tier  Nattie Rubia (left) sells a few flies at his camp site on the banks of Southwest River in Bay St. George and chats to long time angler Sterling Pittman between customers. Photo Don Ivany/ASF

On the Conne River on the south coast, there has so far been only one fish through the counting fence.

The Garnish River counting fence has had six salmon as of today.

There appears to have been some rain over towards the east coast, as the Little Salmonier has how water and temperatures of 15 C. Meanwhile, in the Salmonier there are a few fish trickling in, but very few.

Northeast Placentia River has low water and temp. of 11 C.

Northwest River, flowing through Terra Nova National Park, has a counting fence on it this year.  Water at 12 C.

Any of the rivers on the north coast are probably being affected by the thick sea ice. The Terra Nova is running at 45 (CM/S), which is okay for angling, but no fish yet.

The Gander has a flow of 110 (CM/S), and a temperature of 4.5 C. Flow is too high for angling.

The Exploits has not had any fish yet. Again, probably due to the offshore ice.

In LABRADOR, the Eagle River is still running high, at 720 (CM/S). For reference, the normal flow is 240 (CM/S), and flows for good angling should be below that.