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ASF Rivernotes 19 June 2020


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Marie Josée St-Louis with Atlantic salmon at Glen Emma Pool, Matapedia River on 13 June 2020. Photo by guide Vincent Lavoie. Submitted by Louis Windisch

On Friday, June 19, New Brunswick CLOSED the Crown Reserve Waters to everyone.

According to Kevin Case, Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife, said those already in the locations would need to leave, and all reservations would not be honoured, due to the extremely high forest fire danger. Those with immediate or later reservations would be reimbursed, he said in an email to ASF’s Neville Crabbe.

Penobscot – Last numbers from Sat., June20 have been included, replacing the June 15 numbers from Jason Lavalliere of Maine DNR.

Good News on Early Salmon Returns

From many areas, including Maine, Restigouche, Gaspé and Newfoundland and other areas the early signs of of Atlantic salmon returns are positive.

We need to be cautioned that the water levels overall are dropping, and temperatures may rise unduly, but still, the signs are good so far.

So many things are imponderable. What has the at-sea survival been like. What actual depredations did smolt suffer leaving the Miramichi estuary in the year-classes now returning.

The difficulty in attempting to predict runs is that there are so many factors affecting the wild Atlantic salmon population dynamics both in their native streams and far out on ocean feeding grounds.

We are still discovering more about Atlantic salmon with every passing day, month and year. For many anglers on the rivers it matters, and it should. There are not the human resources to address every issue of Atlantic salmon everywhere. But knowing more details of the Atlantic salmon and their lives does help us know better where to place conservation resources, and to remind governments where to best apply their regulatory responsibilities.

Every Atlantic salmon returning to the river to spawn is precious, and every one seen in a river gives another person a bond with the species. These precious links between individuals on the rivers and the Atlantic salmon are fundamental to maintaining the heritage associated with this charismatic fish.

Borders and Licenses

It has been officially announced this week that the border between Canada and the U.S. will remain closed to most travellers until at least July 21.

On licenses, the Newfoundland and Labrador government has announced it will be selling non-resident salmon angling licenses, but this is likely to be of use only to those non-residents already in the province for one reason or another.


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Atlantic salmon returns to SATURDAY, JUNE 20 show this year as the best since 2011.


Jason Valliere, Maine DMR Biologist, updated salmon figures on Sat. June 20 in laste afternoon:

915 salmon at Milford plus 3 at Orono makes 918 total for the Penobscot

To this point 815 Atlantic salmon have been measured, and allowed to proceed upstream. There have been 103 taken to Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery at East Orland, ME. It will be interesting to see if the release of these 815 salmon benefits the species, but certainly the river conditions until this week have been good for Atlantic salmon to survive, and to continue on their upstream migration. But this week, Jason Valliere notes the Penobscot is running at 79 F., or 26 C.

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Atlantic salmon this week in the Milford Trap and Fishlift Photo from Maine DMR

To June 14 there have been 23 Atlantic salmon counted.

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ASF's Maranda Nemeth releases a healthy large Atlantic salmon into the Sandy River, far upstream from where it was captured at Lockwood Dam on the Kennebec River by Maine DMR. Justin Sweitzer/Maine DMR
Kennebec River

The year 2020 is turning into a remarkably good year for the Atlantic salmon in this River. The return of 33 is the highest return in the recent data series from 2010, does only refer to the year to June 17.

Jennifer Noll of Maine DMR, reporting on the week:

Temperatures have been slowly rising on the lower Kennebec this week but are expected to jump by the weekend with the hot, dry weather expected. Again, flows are very low on the mainstem Kennebec. According to the USGS gage in Sidney, current flow conditions are at 2,140 cfs, which is the lowest discharge recorded for this date based on 34 years of data

From Tom Moffatt: It needs to be noted that the fishway at the Lockwood Dam is poorly designed, under most conditions is hard for the Atlantic salmon to find, and perhaps this year’s higher numbers are because salmon can find the fishway in times of lower flow. The Kennebec still has a long way to go to be considered a river with restored migration of sea-going species.

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Chart of Atlantic salmon returns to Lockwood Dam on the Kennebec, as of 17 June 2020. The salmon are trucked to the Sandy River where excellent spawning areas exist.
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Habitat survey on Temple Stream. Photo Jen Emma Cassidy


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At Larry's Gulch on the Restigouche, first salmon of 2020 was a nice 42 inches, caught on a Rusty Rat last week. Three nice salmon caught and saw many more. Photo Larry's Gulch
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Magnificent Restigouche River at dawn. Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Some beautiful and large Atlantic salmon have been showing up in the Restigouche system, which certainly brings hope for the 2020 returns. At the same time, many camps are closed for the year, due to the impact on travel of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Nathan Wilbur was on the Restigouche a few days ago:

Salmon are making their way into New Brunswick rivers and we are hearing some positive reports of anglers hooking up on a variety of rivers.

It’s a great time to be on the water with cold, clean June flow and chrome salmon. Can’t beat it.

Rivers are getting low and we need rain, it’s been unseasonably dry over the past weeks and certainly a big flush of water would continue to bring the salmon into home waters.

With the covid travel restrictions on, we’re all dreaming of our favourite salmon river at this time of year, but it’s a great opportunity to get out and explore local waters. You may find a hidden gem or renewed passion in waters close to home, whether it be a salmon river, trout stream, or backwoods lake.

New Book on the Restigouche River

Philip Lee has just published a new 272-page book on the Restigouche River with Goose Lane Editions that just came out 19 June 2020. It is also available in Kindle on Amazon.

Philip Lee also wrote Home Pool: The Fight to Save the Atlantic Salmon.

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Canoe ready for pushing out to discover an Atlantic salmon in the Restigouche. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
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Shannon Bird with her first Atlantic salmon of the year on the Restigouche. Photo Danny Bird

Brock Curtis of Curtis Miramichi Outfitters says:

Our rivers continue to drop and rain would be a welcome on some of our tributaries.

Not many reports on salmon landed here on the Main Southwest Miramichi. We are getting some reports from anglers hooking the odd salmon on the tributaries along with nice trout.

Any salmon that came into the Southwest Miramichi seem to have headed upriver and are not holding yet.

Most salmon fisherman are waiting for the late June early July runs to come in and start holding in the cold water pools.

Conditions are still good here on the main river in the Blackville area.

We could use some rain but it isn’t bad for wading and salmon fishing. Just a waiting game now for the next runs to come in and start holding in the pools.

Quite a few bass fisherman around and some seem to be doing okay.

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By comparison to the wildness of the Miramichi and especially the Restigouche, the Kennebecasis, seen here on June 8, is pastoral. It does have an Atlantic salmon run. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
St. Croix

The boundary river between the United States and Canada may still be a barrier to travel. But for alewives the river is indeed a “four-lane highway”. The St. Croix International Waterway Commission reports that for the week ending June 6 there have been 563,055 pass through the Milltown fishway. They are measured using a video system, rather than by hand.

No sign of Atlantic salmon however.


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Ten year old Freddie Leverman caught a bright salmon on June 12 2020 in the North River, Cape Breton. This was the first salmon he caught on one of his own flies, a #4 brown bomber. He’s been salmon fishing for a few years now but just started tying a few months ago. Photo Peter Leverman Photography.

Greg Lovely writes:

The water levels are still good and both Atlantic salmon and trout are being caught. But hopefully we get rain to maintain these perfect fishing conditions as water levels are falling.

It is always nice to get “the monkey of your back” as my friends and I call it, which is when you catch the first fresh salmon of the year. Although our salmon fishing licenses do not specify barbless flies for fishing salmon this year, we at the Margaree Salmon Association are still going to advocate barbless flies as the way to go.

Notes on the Drone Images

These drone photos were taken by my son, Alexander Lovely. The drone left my house and travelled down the river almost to Eagles Nest Pool. In one of the photos there is a salmon fisher.

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Last August, Alexander Lovely took drone photos of a section of the Margaree River. Look closely to see a digital circle around an angler on the river.
Alex Breckenridge hears much, with his great small operation of The Tying Scotsman, and notes that he heard someone caught a 12 lb. fish in the lower Margaree on the weekend. In addition, the activity overall on the river has increased considerably over the past week, as more anglers try to connect with their early season Atlantic salmon.
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The Margaree River is a magical waterway that draws people back, year after year for both its captivating presence and its Atlantic salmon. Drone photographed last August. Photo Alexander Lovely
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Morgan Falls on the LaHaveRiver on June 15 2020. Photo Robyn Lohnes


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Kristin Locke of Corner Brook releases a beautiful Atlantic salmon on Southwest Brook in Bay St. George
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Pitiful meets pristine! Sediment from Watson’s Brook flows into Corner Brook Stream, the result of construction work at the site of a new hospital. Photo Keith Piercey
Non-Resident Salmon Licenses

As of next week, the provincial government is selling Non-Resident Salmon Angling Licenses. With the difficulty of actually travelling to Newfoundland and Labrador, these are presently only of use for non-residents already in the province.

Keith Piercey gives an update from the Newfoundland west coast:

The raging high waters this Spring subsided somewhat, and anglers took quick advantage.

The fishing is very good on several Bay St. George Rivers. Southwest Brook, one of the earliest, brought many reports of successful trips (with some usual not-so-great days in between) as a mixed run of grilse and salmon moved in.

A party of two had 11 on during one trip to Tuck’s Pool on Southwest Brook. Another individual was returning home from Port aux Basques and had an hour to spare, so he headed for The Big Dribble on Robinson’s River. When he arrived at the pool a senior angler said he was using the pool (meaning he had to go somewhere else). Right move!! He went downstream a short distance and in 30 minutes had on and lost 4 fish!

Several anglers tried Big Falls on the Humber and I am informed that they didn’t see a salmon. The Humber had quite a volume of water this year. Levels have dropped considerably on the upper part, while Lower Humber takes longer to drop due to the extra water flowing into Deer Lake from the penstocks at Deer Lake Power.

Salmon Trap on Corner Brook Stream needs quick repairs

Things didn’t go so well following a major clean-up at the Corner brook Stream. The upper section was renewed last summer and things looked rosy, or so we thought. The right support in the trap snapped and left it with a significant list (photo). DFO has it listed on its priority list for repairs and have prioritized other fishways for work as well. Given the run on Corner Brook Stream doesn’t start until the end of June we are slotted in behind others where runs have started. This year Rogers Cable will be streaming video in real-time from the trap. The exterior equipment is already in place.

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Counting fence on Corner Brook Stream. Photo Keith Piercey
Newfoundland Counting fences may not operate in 2020:

COVID-19 forced DFO to re-think the installation of counting fences in the province. All field work was put off until June 15th. The counting fence (DIDSON) on rivers like Harry’s is normally installed during the latter part of May. However due to the distancing factor it wasn’t possible to start installation. By now DFO would have almost three weeks of data gathered. Fishways will get most attention for now.

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Western Arm Brook on Monday June 15 2020, showing the location DFO has failed to install a counting fence in 2020. Don Ivany/ASF
Don Ivany on the Northern Peninsula

Don Ivany, ASF Director of Programs for Newfoundland and Labrador, was travelling up to the Strait of Belle Isle to deploy arrays of tracking receivers between the NL and Labrador shores, but along the way took images of many of the rivers that cross the highway. He says:

I have been on the Northern Peninsula all this week putting out our tracking receivers and basically working from daylight to dark. However, on the drive north on Monday I took photos of rivers along the Northern Peninsula.

Water levels on most of these rivers are still pretty high and few people are fishing. However I have received reports that a few fish have been caught on Castor River and St. Genevieve River. Likewise fish are being hooked on Beaver Brook near Main Brook. Water levels are good for fish on Big East but I didn’t see anyone fishing there and have not heard of any fish being caught yet on this river.

I know the water levels have receded on the Humber and I understand a few fish have been hooked there as well. Because of the intense work deploying the tracking receivers, I haven’t talked to anyone fishing in  Central Newfoundland rivers or rivers on the South Coast or Avalon Peninsula.

In Labrador levels are still high, and I have not heard of any fish hooked there yet, but the season only opened on June 15. I suspect we may get some early reports from those rivers during the next week or two.

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Big East River looking seaward from the highway bridge. On Don Ivany's return south later in the week, there were three anglers on the left bank, actively seeking Atlantic salmon. Don Ivany/ASF
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Western Brook in Gros Morne National Park. So far a counting fence has not been put in place for 2020. Taken 15 June 2020. Don Ivany/ASF


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Salmon released on the St-Jean (Gaspé) by Josée Marie Adams. Photo Geneviève Fournier

In Quebec again this week, water level declines remain a topic of conversation, but the news on returning salmon continues to be encouraging.

Lower Saint-Lawrence rivers such as the Causapscal have kept up the momentum from last week despite rapidly falling water flow. Anglers have been graced with many cooperative fish to date, releasing more salmon than harvested. 39 salmon have been released compared to 35 at the same date last year.

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New Fish Trap on the Mitis River. Photo Zec Rivière Mitis
A fish passage issue that was hampering Mitis River salmon from entering the fish trap below the Mitis-2 station during that last few years has hopefully been rectified with the construction of new permanent infrastructure which seems to be working properly to date.

The first salmon entered the system on June 6

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York River salmon released by Niclas Boucher. Photo Dominic Bouchard
Fishers on Gaspé rivers are reporting good angling with many large fish being released. The Cascapedia anglers are also reporting an increase in the number of fish being landed.

Results from the Micmac Camp are proudly displaying many fine salmon on their Facebook page.

The APRM (Moisie River Protection Association) is reporting to date, for the section of the river they manage, 40 salmon being landed, of which 29 have been released, 10 killed and 1 kelt.

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An Aux Rochers River salmon released by Niclas Boucher. Photo Christophe Cousin
The popular Aux Rochers River has started to register salmon being landed and released after a bit of slow start. Niclas Boucher of Sept-Iles recently visited the York river in Gaspé, released a fish there; then travelled back to the North Shore in less than 24 hours and quickly released a salmon on the Aux Rochers.

Godbout River
 anglers are also witnessing a good run of June fish to date.
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St-Jean (Gaspé) salmon released by Josée Marie Adams. Photo Pierre Luc Fortin

Les niveaux d’eau continuent d’être une préoccupation sur les rivières du Québec.

Cependant, les nouvelles encourageantes se poursuivent avec des rapports en provenance des régions que les montaisons vont bon train.

Dans le bas Saint-Laurent, la Causapscal, a poursuivi sur sa lancée depuis la semaine dernière malgré une chute rapide du débit d’eau. À ce jour, les saumons sont coopératifs et preneurs. À date, les pêcheurs ont gracié plus de saumon que récolté. Soit, 39 saumons par rapport à 35 à la même date l’an dernier.

Un problème d’infrastructure qui affectait l’accès des saumons de la rivière Mitis de franchir le piège en aval de la station Mitis-2 au cours des dernières années a été, espérons-le, résolu avec la construction de nouvelles infrastructures permanentes qui semblent fonctionner correctement à ce jour. Le premier saumon a franchi le piège le 6 juin dernier.

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En Gaspésie, les saumoniers signalent également du succès et de nombreux grands saumons ont été relâchés. Les pêcheurs de Cascapédia signalent également une augmentation du nombre de poissons dans la rivière.

Les résultats du camp Micmac de la Cascapédia sont affichés fièrement sur leur page Facebook.

APRM (Association de protection de la rivière Moisie) annonce à ce jour, pour le tronçon de la rivière qu’elle gère, que 40 saumons furent pêchés, dont 29 remises à l’eau, 10 saumons récoltés et 1 saumon noir.

Les pêcheurs de la rivière Aux Rochers ont également débuté leur saison en enregistrant les premières prises de la saison ainsi que sur la rivière Godbout qui connait une bonne montaison à la mi-juin.

Niclas Boucher de Sept-Îles a récemment visité la rivière York à Gaspé, y a relâché un saumon puis a regagné la Côte-Nord en moins de 24 heures et a rapidement relâché un saumon de la rivière Aux Rochers.

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Éric Poirier FQSA Assistant DG Causapscal Sector 1. Photo Rusty Ouellet


Two rivers have very good day by day fish counts. The Tornionjoki, a massively important river at the top end of the Gulf of Bothnia, and the Simojoki, somewhat to south, also flowing into the Gulf of Bothnia portion of the Baltic.

The Tornionjoki, named the Torn in Swedish, is the powerhouse for Atlantic salmon production in the Baltic. In a very good year more than 100,000 adult salmon return. So far in 2020 counting started late due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, and so far there have been about 1,500 return. This is in line with the 2017 returns, lowest in the last five years.

The Simojoki is another story. In a good year it has about 5,000 return. So far the counts are in line to be the second best of the last five years, with 1,277 so far.

The counts are made with “sonar-like” technology.

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The Simojoki is the only major Atlantic salmon river that lies entirely within the boundaries of Finland. Check out maps, etc. at:


We all need to reflect that it is the bond between those on the river with the river’s personality and with the Atlantic salmon that has the greatest power to bring restoration of Atlantic salmon numbers in the year ahead. The photo below of 10-year-old Freddie Leverman, angling an Atlantic salmon with a fly of his own tying, on the North River in Cape Breton this past week that exemplifies this bond that is so important.
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Freddie Leverman, age 10, with a 13 lb Atlantic salmon on the end of his line. Photo Peter Leverman