ASF RIVERNOTES - Sept 9, 2016

It is the time for Autumn fish, and Greg Lovely has shared the nice Margaree example above, released within the past week. The passage of the seasons and the seasons of the Atlantic salmon are intertwined and inseperable, they way it should be.

Ungava (Quebec)

There are some special, wild corners of the Atlantic salmon world from which we only rarely get reports.

One of these is the rivers of Ungava Bay. Along the northern coast of Quebec, these are the most northerly salmon rivers in North America. The salmon may take seven years to go to sea, so tough are the conditions. But days on rivers like the George or the Leaf can be exquisite memories. These Atlantic salmon runs are so far from others that they have their own issues, strengths and weaknesses.

Peter May of Pyramid Mountain Camp on the George River sent in a report on Wed. Sept. 7 on how the salmon runs have been:

The salmon run came in early in 2016 with the first fish arriving at camp at the end of July. These runs have continued up to this week with mixed sized fish coming in. Grilse averaged 5 to 7 lbs and 2-sea-year salmon around 12 to 15 lbs with some larger fish in the 20 lb range.

Water temperature was lower that average with temps reaching 17 C in mid-July and then dropping in August to an average of around 12 C. Also water levels remain fairly high but this does not usually present a problem as the George River is very large with a tremendous amount of water flowing even at the low level.

During the week of August 24 to 31 five angler hooked and released 59 salmon with some fish in the 20 lb range. A lot of fish were seen daily migrating upstream along the shoreline.

All in all, 2016 runs are greater than others in recent years, and it was one of the best seasons in 30+ years

Atlantic salmon released on the George River this year. Photo Peter May


DFO has updated counts to Sept. 4.

English River has had 613 grilse and 189 large salmon, compared with 707 grilse and 255 large salmon in 2015.

Sand Hill River had 1,085 grilse and 965 large salmon, vs 2,580 grilse and 1,093 large salmon in 2015 to the same Sept. 4 date.

Muddy Bay Brook had 239 grilse and 18 large salmon to Sept. 4, compared with 556 grilse and 45 large salmon in 2015.

Paradise River had 74 grilse and 31 large salmon in 2016 to Sept. 4, vs. 305 grilse and 58 large salmon in 2015.


The updates to Sept. 4 show the continued trend of numbers in 2016.

With most rivers now closed, one might call it a season generally with either an overabundance of water or a lack of it for salmon anglers. For the Atlantic salmon, certainly concerns on the South Coast, and perhaps a tad of disappointment. As to Rocky River, with its new fishway, one hopes there is not some problem impinging on the success of the run, with only 195 to Sept. 4.

Nova Scotia

Greg Lovely has some interesting notes on the Margaree.

We are back to low water conditions on the Margaree River.A few friends up for the last week,and they left happy, catching a few fish and enjoying this beautiful valley.The Fall Run has begun,with some BRONZE beauties entering the river.

New Brunswick

Striped Bass
- DFO has greatly extended the striped bass fishery in the Miramichi - a great idea considering the population explosion that has taken place in striped bass, and their impact on smolt in the late spring. Check out the story here.

Northwest Miramichi

A feature this week, and a great video to share. Howard Gould connected with a VERY large Atlantic salmon on the Northwest Miramichi, and is sharing a gorgeous video of the leap - and the surprising final view of the salmon. Paul P. Elson recorded the video at 240 frames per second, and it is replayed at 30 frames per second to savour the leap.

The salmon weighed approximately 12 kg.

Howard Gould says of his Atlantic salmon from Sept. 4:

The river conditions were good but just a little bit high for that particular stretch - it fishes better in slightly lower water. The water temperatures were in the low 60’s and it was very clear. We made 1 failed tailing attempt after about 10-12 minutes as we had no net because we were backpacking/hiking for the day. I handed Paul the rod and had her tail in my hand for several seconds but she was clearly not ready and showed us who was boss – luckily she stayed on for another 10-12 minutes before submitting (rolled on her side briefly) and I managed to successfully tail her. Paul caught most of the battle on video, including a fantastic slow-motion jump and he also took a number of great pictures. Without Paul, I would not have landed this fish and each person I tell the story to knows this right off the bat – ‘twas a team effort 100%.

The fly was a simplified GP developed by Emmett Johnson known simply as Emmett’s General Practitioner which I tied before the trip on a large size 4 streamer hook – a factor which played heavily (I believe) in keeping her pinned after the failed tailing attempt. It’s not lost on me that whatever forces of nature combined to put that fly in front of that fish on that day under those conditions are rare and special. Fish of this size are not meant to be caught and released every day (at least not by me) and as thankful as I am for having the opportunity, I hope 10,000 more casts go by before hooking another. Paul also, inadvertently, caught the release on video as he had turned away to get my rod for “measurement” but he left the camera rolling. The video shows her leaving my hand under full steam, in full vigor so I know she’s no worse for wear after our brief time together

Howard Gould prepares to release his Atlantic salmon. Photo by Paul Elson.

The Northwest Barrier has had 221 grilse and 80 large salmon to Sept. 4, vs. 189 grilse and 64 large salmon to the same date in 2015.

On the Southwest Miramichi the Dungarvon Barrier is reporting 135 grilse and 112 large salmon to Sept. 4, vs. 154 grilse and 148 large salmon in 2015.

From the Clearwater, Jim Wilson, a well-known naturalist who is also passionate about Atlantic salmon writes:

Four of us spent the week of August 29-September 2nd at Clearwater Camp on the Main Southwest Miramichi. Despite the dry summer there had been some good rain the previous week and the river was at a near-perfect level. The Miramichi water was relatively cool and when combined with the colder flow from Clearwater Brook at the head of the camp’s two large pools, we had plenty of fish available. To top it off, the week’s weather was a mix of sun and cloud with intermittent showers and relatively cool nights.
By the end of the five days we had landed and released 28 fish; 12 salmon ranging from 10 to 20 pounds and 16 grilse. In addition we hooked and lost another nine fish which brought the total hooked to 37. Fishing was good until the final morning, when we all came up dry, so the average over four days of activity was nearly 10 fish hooked per day. Salmon fishing in late summer just doesn’t get much better than that!

David Lobban with a salmon on line at Ice House Pool at Clearwater Camp, with Guide Dan Pond standing by.
Photo Jim Wilson


Mother Nature is taking care of low water conditions in a big way.  Some river societies have taken to social media warning their anglers to be vigilant in regards to changing water conditions.  River flows will be rising very quickly over the next few days.  This will greatly improve angling conditions until the end of the season on September 30 for most rivers.  The upper part of the Matapedia is scheduled to receive in excess of 70 mm of rain on September 8.

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

Paisable Pool on Grande Rivière in the Gaspé. Photo Jean-Guy Beliveau