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ASF Rivernotes 10 Sept 2021

It is all about the rain, and the cooling river temperatures.

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Stephen Lewis with a Spey rod at Boom Siding on the Humber River on Thurs., 9 Sept. 2021. Don Ivany/ASF


September, September. In so many ways the best month of the year for those thinking about Atlantic salmon rivers. The stressful water temperatures are dropping, and fast. There is more water flowing with the predictable early autumn rainstorms, not to mention the occasional hurricane. As a matter of interest, Hurricane Larry is passing across Newfoundland this weekend.

On the rivers the air is crisp. Less smoke and haze, and the leaves beginning to turn wherever deciduous trees grow.

There is excitement because Atlantic salmon have more energy, feeling more urgently the need to migrate upstream. And in some jurisdictions the season for anglers will soon end.

On the border, Canada has loosened somewhat the entry rules, at least for those fully vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic. But the Delta variant has caused more traffic jams at places like the New Brunswick – Nova Scotia border.

It is September, something to celebrate – but still it is not the beginning of an average autumn. But for Atlantic salmon there is no difference. The urgent necessity to head upstream is as strong as ever. So too is the September irritability that drives them to swipe at a fly on the water surface.

Take a deep breath. And think how important those rivers, and those wild Atlantic salmon, are to your own sense of wellbeing.


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La pluie récente a permis à Joé Champagne de croiser le fer avec un saumon de la rivière Mitis- photo Pierre-Olivier Pouliot - Improved September conditions resulted in this fine Mitis River salmon being released by Joé Champagne.

Charles Cusson, ASF Director of Quebec Programs, writes:

With 23 days left in the very tough 2021 season to date on the angling success front. Despite low water conditions since mid-June, decent numbers of fish have migrated to their native rivers but has not reflected in the angling success. A substantial amount of rain reloaded rivers in the Gaspé region last weekend (and this upcoming week also) and should provide very good angling conditions with plenty of action until Sept. 30.

I received a note this week from Christopher Minkoff, a Montreal area salmon angler about his trip in August with his sons Thomas and Alexander with supporting photos from the Grande Rivière and the Petit Pabos rivers. Both Thomas and Alexander experienced their first salmon fishing trip with Dad which added to the significance of this adventure. Thanks to Chris for introducing his sons to a great sport and precious resource that I’m sure they will appreciate for many years to come. Salmo Salar has 2 new friends.

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Le clan Minkoff tente leur chance à la fosse Sardine Box de la Grande Rivière - Photo Chris Minkoff - Minkoff Clan fishing the Grande Rivière at the Sardine Box Pool.
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Chris Minkoff relâche un saumon à la fosse Milnikek de la Matapédia - photo Donald Dumais - Chris Minkoff releases a salmon at the Milnikek Pool on the Matapedia River.

The data used for the Quebec River Notes are sourced from various river websites, social media and Quebec government sources. Information can change without prior notification regarding prior year comparative figures.

York, Dartmouth, and Saint-Jean Rivers

Listed below are the statistics to Aug. 29 which appear on the Zec Gaspé website.

York 494 captures (including releases) 4 366 rod days (3 592 in 2020)
Dartmouth 207 captures (including releases) 1 305 rod days (1 036 in 2020)
Saint-Jean 164 captures (including releases) 684 rod days (628 in 2020)

Please visit to register a release:

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Thomas Minkoff on Petit Pabos River at John Jim pool with René Giroux - photo Chris Minkoff

Matane River

As of September 7th, cumulatively for the season, 2,261 fish have been counted through the fishway (930 salmon and 1,331 grilse).

To September 7th, 2020, for the season, 1,649 salmon and 1,001 grilse were counted for a total of 2,650.

Anglers have reported landing 745 fish consisting of 245 salmon and 90 grilse released, 119 salmon and 291 grilse harvested.

Bonaventure River

The APSB reports to September 4th, 2020, that anglers have landed 1,140 fish made up of 694 salmon released and 446 grilse harvested.

Bonaventure river anglers reported, cumulatively for the season as of September 5th, 2020, a total of 963 fish landed, consisting of 657 salmon released and 306 grilse harvested.

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Bonaventure River Flow

Madeleine River

Due to the heavy rain last weekend, the fishway has been closed since last Friday the 3rd.

Cumulatively to September 2nd, 780 salmon and 854 grilse have been counted through the fishway for a total of 1,634 fish.

1,692 fish (898 salmon and 794 grilse) were counted for the season to September 5th, 2020.

Matapedia River

As of September 6th, for the season, 678 fish have been reported landed by sport anglers. Of which, 353 have been reported released and 325 harvested.

In comparison to September 7th, 2020, anglers had landed a total of 1,146 fish, of which 674 had been released and 463 harvested. The breakdown of salmon and grilse released/harvested since Aug. 1 is not yet available.

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Un aritste s'exprime sous un pont de la Matapédia - Photo Andrew Olive - Beautiful artwork by @sbuone on the Matapedia River near the Assemetquagan confluence.

Mitis River

Very good migration numbers continue to impress to Sept 6. To date, 1,748 fish have been counted, consisting of 749 salmon and 999 grilse.

The migration back to the Mitis to Sept 7, 2020, consisted of 1,475 fish (738 salmon and 737 grilse).

To Sept 8, 2019, 878 fish (448 large salmon and 430 grilse) had been transported up above the natural waterfall.

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Guidé par René Giroux, Thomas Minkoff pêche la rivière Petit Pabos pendant son premier voyage de pêche au saumon à vie - photo Chris Minkoff - Thomas Minkoff casting through a misty early morning rainbow on the Pabos River along with his guide René Giroux.

Charles Cusson, Directeur des programmes au Québec :

Il ne reste que 23 jours de pêche avant la fin de cette saison qui fut difficile dû au manque d’eau dans nos rivières. Les conditions de pêche ont été difficiles jusqu’à ce jour, mais le saumon semble être au rendez-vous basé sur les résultats des décomptes. Avec une infusion d’eau et d’oxygène récente (et à venir cette semaine) en Gaspésie, les conditions de pêche seront bonnes jusqu’au 30 septembre.

Cette semaine j’ai reçu des photos du saumonier Montréalais Christopher Minkoff qu’il a voulu partager son expérience vécue sur la Grande Rivière et la Petit Pabos avec ses fils Thomas et Alexandre pendant le mois d’aout. Les deux étaient à leur première expérience à taquiner Salmo salar . Chris m’a avoué qu’ils vont vouloir l’accompagner chaque fois dorénavant. Merci à Chris d’avoir introduit ses fils à cette magnifique ressource et au sport qu’ils pratiqueront pendant plusieurs années à venir et qui tiendront à cœur le futur de l’espèce.

Les données utilisées dans ce rapport proviennent de divers sites web, des médias sociaux et de source gouvernementale québécois. Les informations peuvent changer sans avis au préalable en ce qui concerne les comparatifs des saisons précédentes.

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Des saumons de la Grande Rivière attendent la lancer roulé d'Alexander Minkoff - photo Chris Minkoff - Alexander Minkoff roll casts to waiting salmon on the Grande Rivière.

Rivières York, Dartmouth et Saint-Jean

Voici les résultats affichés au 29 août sur le site de la Zec Gaspé jusqu’à ce jour en 2021.

York 494 captures (incluant les remises à l’eau) 4 366 jours-pêche (3 592 en 2020)
Dartmouth 207 captures (incluant les remises à l’eau) 1 305 jours-pêche (1 036 en 2020)
Saint-Jean 164 captures (incluant es remises à l’eau) 684 jours pêche ( 628 en 2020)

Visiter afin d’enregistrer une remise à l’eau.

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Rivière Matane

Jusqu’au 7 septembre, 2 261 poissons ( 930 saumons et 1 331 madeleineaux) furent comptés par le biais de la passe migratoire.

Cumulativement au 7 septembre 2020, 1 649 saumons et 1 001 madeleineaux furent dénombrés pour un total de 2 650.

Pour leurs parts, les pêcheurs sportifs ont signalé 756 captures jusqu’à ce jour, dont la graciation de 172 saumons, 147 madeleineaux et la récolte de 50 saumons et 387 madeleineaux.

Au 7 septembre 2020, 745 poissons, dont 245 saumons et 90 madeleineaux avaient été relâchés en plus de 119 saumons et 291 madeleineaux récoltés.

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Cascapedia River

Rivière Bonaventure

En date du 4 septembre 2021, jusqu’à ce jour, l’APSB rapporte que 1 140 poissons ont été capturés, dont 694 saumons gracié et 446 madeleineaux récoltés.

En 2020, les pêcheurs sportifs de la rivière Bonaventure avaient cumulativement capturé au 5 septembre, 963 poissons, soit 657 saumons relâchés et 306 madeleineaux récoltés.

Rivière Madeleine

La passe migratoire n’est pas en fonction depuis quelques jours dû à la pluie abondante de la fin de semaine dernière.

Cumulativement, en date du 2 septembre pour la saison 2021, 1 634 poissons ont franchi la passe migratoire dont 780 saumons et 854 madeleineaux.

1 692 poissons (898 saumons et 794 madeleineaux) ont été dénombrés jusqu’au 5 septembre 2020.

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Dartmouth River

Rivière Matapédia

Cumulativement au 6 septembre, 678 poissons ont été capturés, dont 353 relâchés et 325 récoltés.

Au 7 septembre 2020, les pêcheurs de la Matapédia avaient pêché jusqu’à ce jour 1 146 poissons, dont 674 relâchés et 463 récoltés.

Rivière Mitis

En date du 6 septembre, la Mitis continue sa performance incroyable. À ce jour, 749 saumons et 999 madeleineaux ont franchi le piège de comptage pour un total de 1 748.

Au 7 septembre 2020, la montaison de la Mitis se chiffrait à 1 475 poissons dont 738 saumons et 737 madeleineaux.

Au 8 septembre 2019, 878 poissons (448 saumons et 430 madeleineaux) avaient été transportés en amont de la cascade naturelle.


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Suzanne Taylor fishing a wilderness pool on the Little Southwest Miramichi where the water conditions were perfect over the Labour Day Weekend. Photo by Bill Taylor
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An east coast rainforest. Along the headwaters of the Little Southwest Miramichi are age old hiking trails that wind along the river. They traverse through mature mixed and Acadian forest with lush ground cover, mosses and lichens, retaining and slowly releasing runoff which helps maintain cool river temperatures and steady flows. Photo by Bill Taylor


ASF’s Bill Taylor writes:

Suzanne, Kelsey, her fiancé Cody and I spent the Labour Day weekend on the headwaters of the Little Southwest Miramichi. 

The river was in super shape following a couple of days of steady rain post Storm Ida. The river came up more than a foot, cresting on Friday night setting us up for ideal weekend conditions. 

Water temperatures dropped from low 60’s F to a cool 53 F after a couple of nights of near freezing air temperatures. We had to stoke the wood stove every night and morning to take the chill off.
Fish were taking advantage of the good water conditions and were moving steadily through the pools. Barren pools one evening had several new fish holding in them the next morning. We all hooked fish, and released three nice salmon and three fiesty grilse, lost a couple at the net, had a few long line releases and rose too many to keep track of. Most of the fish had been in the river several weeks but a couple, including a handsome 10 pound jack were fresh run fall salmon.

The salmon were beginning to transition from summer flies to standard fall patterns. We had a couple on Green Machines and the others were all on an Ally’s Shrimp or Cascade. We tried some dry flies in the afternoons and evenings and could raise fish but none would commit. I think the water was just a little too cold.

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Bill Taylor releasing a 10 lb. hen salmon on the Little Southwest Miramichi. Photo by Suzanne Taylor
The web editor would add that more rain will be improving the conditions further, due to a “sideswipe” by a northwestern arm related to Hurricane Larry’s passing.
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Suzanne Taylor carefully releases 12 lb. hen salmon she caught Labour Day Monday on the Little Southwest Miramichi. Photo by Bill Taylor

Dungarvon and Renous

Brock Curtis of Curtis Miramichi Outfitters writes:
I was on the Dungarvon and Renous mid-week. 

Rivers are in great shape, and the Main Southwest Miramichi is the same. All three rivers are cool and now have nice water levels. 

No word yet of a Fall Run. 

Anglers were doing better earlier in the week. Seems to have slowed down in the last day or so. Everyone seems to be waiting on the Fall Runs. 

Significant rain in the forecast for Thursday into Friday. Seems like we are getting back into our weekly cycle of rain again.

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Labour Day, Sept. 6, 2021 may have been overcast, but still a great day for the Southwest Miramichi at Boiestown. The group, from left, ASF's Rob Otto, Julia Carpenter, Nathan Wilbur, Sean Doyle, and Geoff Giffin. Several fish were seen and a couple hooked. Photo Guillaume Savoie

Nathan Wilbur, ASF Director of Regional Programs, writes:

On Labour Day Weekend, the Southwest  Miramichi in Boiestown had perfect water conditions. 

The Atlantic salmon were so excited to get that first flush of cold water in September after a few long weeks of warm water in August. 

This can be a very productive time to fish for Atlantic salmon – they’ve been cooped up in cold water refuges during summer and then once the rain and cool water arrives in September the salmon are able to spread out again. 

There were many out fishing in the Boiestown area and there were several hookups throughout the morning. Great to see fish and good water.

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Southwest Miramichi at Boiestown on Sept. 6. Nathan Wilbur/ASF

St. John River

DFO as of 9 am Sept. 10 has yet to post numbers for Mactaquac, or for the Nashwaak River for the end of August. Transparency should be an important part of the core workload. After all, DFO in Newfoundland does it in a very timely manner.


The Pabineau First Nation is reporting via the Nepisiguit Salmon Association website that from July 14 to Sept. 7 they have recorded 198 grilse and 179 large salmon at the counting fence they operate.


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Trying a few casts in the Forks Pool of the Margaree, looking for those salmon entering the Margaree with the bump from the rain. Photo Patrick Poirier


Patrick Poirier writes:

At last, at last, they’re here at last.

With the slight bump in water, not as much as hoped for, the rise was enough to start a push of fall salmon into the Margaree.

With good numbers of fish being hooked, and reports of “personal bests” of Atlantic salmon  30 lb plus. It is a good start to the fall fisheries.

More rain is forecast for the weekend, so it is looking like a promising fall season – so far.

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There is the likelihood of more rain coming with the passage of "Offshore Hurricane Larry". Photo Patrick Poirier.


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After the rain late last week water conditions have been perfect on the Morell River. Despite ideal water there are very few fish in the system yet. Photo Taylor Maine

Taylor Main of Prince Edward Island notes:

We’ve had the wettest summer on PEI since 2011.

With the exception of a two and a half week stretch in August we have come close to averaging an inch of rainfall a week from April 1 to date.

The water conditions have been perfect for almost the entire angling season and the brook trout and steelhead fishing, as usual, has been rewarding.

Not unlike other years, a handful of grilse have been caught on a number of rivers including the West River and the Morell River.

With the extended angling season starting this coming Thursday we are certainly heading into the fall with the highest water I’ve seen in close to a decade.

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A section of the Dunk River after a heavy rain. Discoloured water such as this tends to make for some excellent fishing conditions on PEI. Photo Taylor Main


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Rainfall predicted for Sat. Sept. 11 at 2 am

Don Ivany, ASF Regional Director of Programs for Newfoundland and Labrador, writes:

The big news is that most regions throughout Newfoundland and Labrador finally received some very much needed rain, following extended periods of low water levels experienced in all regions of the province for some time this year.

Also, cooler air temperatures during the past week or so have led to a significant drop in water temperatures, which now average in the low teens C.

Unfortunately, some regions, like the West coast of the Island, received excessive rain resulting in flood conditions in this area. This made angling impossible on many of these rivers for the past week, resulting in a somewhat disappointing end to the regular season for anglers who normally fish these rivers.

In contrast, a few rivers in Central Newfoundland just to the East of the Gander River, including the Terra Nova River and Gambo River, remain very low. There has also been an improvement in water levels on the Avalon Peninsula rivers and most rivers in Labrador.

Central and eastern Newfoundland may see much more rain as Hurricane Larry lashes the island.

The regular angling season on the Island officially ended on Sept 7.

However, the season remains open on sections of the Humber River, Exploit’s River, and Gander River, for catch and release angling only, until Oct 7.

In Labrador, all rivers officially close for the season on Sept 15.

Perhaps the best good news story this year is a significant improvement in salmon returns to most rivers in the province this year compared to returns during the past few years.

Hopefully, this trend will continue.

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Count for Newfoundland rivers to Sept. 5. Those rivers with ** are no longer counting, with the end date prior to Sept. 5.


Long time guide in southern Labrador, Cecil Butt, reports high water levels and cold-water temperatures on the Forteau and Pinware River, where a few fish are still being caught.

Dwight Howell, released two grilse on a day trip to Ladies Pool on the Forteau River this past week-end.

Reports also indicate that angling conditions have improved on many rivers south of Goose Bay, where fishing has been good for the past week or two.

Meanwhile, Mike Crosby, proprietor of the Flower River Lodge in Labrador, reports that they had a solid year on the Flowers River this summer with many large fish and grilse being caught and released, despite less-than-ideal conditions during the past few weeks.

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Stephen Lewis with a Spey rod at Boom Siding, Lower Humber, on Thurs. 9 Sept., 2021. He says there is considerable sign of fish around. Don Ivany/ASF

Western Newfoundland

Heavy rain during the past week or so caused flood conditions on many rivers in Western Newfoundland making angling near impossible on some rivers.

Yet a few fish were being caught in some areas. For example, Bob Mercer hooked a couple of grilse on Flat Bay Brook this past week-end despite high water levels.

The Lower Humber continues to produce some very large fish including one that was release by Jessica Duffney recently that was estimated to be 40 lbs.

In fact, it has been an exceptional year for hooking large fish on the lower Humber so far this season, which has also fished well for grilse. Note; the Lower Humber River remains open for release angling until Oct 7.

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Jessica Duffney releasing a very large Atlantic salmon, estimated to be in the 40 lb. range, on the Lower Humber

Central Newfoundland

The Exploits River has had an exceptionally good season and as of Sept. 5 , DFO fishway counts indicate that 37,010 Atlantic salmon have been counted at the Bishop Falls Fishway. In fact, fresh fish are still entering the river. Angling continues to be fairly good on the river but is now restricted to catch and release only angling until the river officially closes on Oct 7.

Water levels on the Gander River have been exceptionally low all this season. However, there was finally some heavy rain in the area this past week and the water level rose from about 12.5 cubic metres per sec (cms) to 50 cms.

Water temperatures also dropped and are now averaging about 13 C. Dave Vardy, reports that as a result of improved water conditions angling picked up considerably on the Gander River where for the past week anglers enjoyed fairly good success.

Dave Vardy also reports that the improved water levels have allowed many fish that were in the lower section of the river to move upstream, where there are now reports of many fish in the upper reaches of Gander Lake, preparing to enter the feeder streams for spawning.

Unfortunately, rivers just to the east of the Exploits, such as Terra Nova River and Gambo River, did not receive any of the recent rain and they remain extremely low, as they have been all season. But at least water temperatures are starting to cool down. This area desperately needs rain!

It is quite possible that the Terra Nova and Gambo will see a significant drop of rain as Hurricane Larry sweeps across the eastern half of Newfoundland.

South Coast

Many of the South Coast rivers also received heavy rain during the past week or so which saw water levels rise sharply and water temperatures start to cool down. Most rivers were almost too high to fish immediately after the rain but as levels started to recede an odd fish was hooked here and there on some of the rivers up to closing on Sept 7.

As noted, it is probably good that anglers will be off these rivers when Hurricane Larry hits on Sept. 10 and 11.

Avalon Peninsula

Periodic rain on the Avalon Peninsula during the past week or so resulted in improved water levels on most rivers in this area of the province.

However, reports indicate that many fish had already migrated up stream and as a result angling was fairly slow.


Maine’s drought task force convened in late August, and concluded that even with the gift of rain from Hurricane Ida, there was not enough water falling on the state, overall. Looks like there could be a second opportunity for aid, as outliers west of Hurricane Larry are dumping on Maine as this is written on Thursday afternoon.

Certainly the rain will help, both improving flows and decreasing water temperatures.


The rain that did hit the state improved the flow on this Downeast River, and brought through the counting fence on Sept. 3 one large female salmon.

That brings the total so far to 17, with 14 being multi-sea-winter salmon and 3 grilse.

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Flow chart for the Narraguagus shows the nice bump with the recent rain.

Kennebec Watershed

Recently there has been electrofishing sampling on some headwaters, including Temple Stream prior to the Walton’s Dam work and culverts being replaced.

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On Tues. Sept. 7 on Cummings Brook, Maine DMR lead a field crew with assistance from Maine IFW and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Even with the low water conditions, 25 wild Eastern Brook Trout of various life stages were counted along with dace and sculpins.


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The Alta River canyon, image taken in 2019, prior to Covid-19 restrictions. Photo Chris Buckley

Alta River

Chris Buckley sent a note that fishing success has improved on the Alta River in the last half of August. The river was low most of the summer, but August rains raised it at the end of the season.

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A 25 kg. Atlantic salmon released on 26 June 2021 on the Alta. The river is known for its large salmon.


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Sea state with AVERAGE height of waves in metres. See lower right for colour coding of height.

Escaped aquaculture salmon are a real menace to the health of wild Atlantic salmon runs. They interbreed and take away the genetic advantage particular strains have for existence and migrating from a river. It is a “no-brainer” that each river and migration route to ocean feeding grounds presents a unique set of challenges.

When Hurricane Larry hits the south coast of Newfoundland on Friday and into Saturday, it is the sea state that threatens the escape of these penned agricultural salmon. Conditions are calling for waves of 6 m. to as much as 9 m., and that is “average” height, not highest tops.

It is sea state that can break apart cages during hurricane conditions. Maybe the cages will be fine. but the structure and the nets, even in Bay d’Espoir area, will be tested. If the companies have not made the right choices on location and kept up maintenance to highest standards, breakouts could occur.

Governments and the salmon farm companies do not like to admit that truly dangerous sea states can destroy their equipment, but it does happen.

The south coast Newfoundland wild salmon populations are already tainted with farmed genes from interbreeding.

Let us hope that Hurricane Larry does not leave more egg on the faces of these companies.