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ASF Rivernotes 25 June 2021



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Margaree River last weekend. Largely out of reach to New Brunswickers at the moment, although late developments this week may be on the way to address the issue. Tom Cheney/ASF
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Canoes on the Restigouche. Both sides of the river can now be reached by travellers from central Canada as well as New Brunswick. Difficult for travellers from Nova Scotia. Beautiful water. Bill Taylor/ASF
If the difficulties of crossing borders was not such an aggravating challenge, the situation would be comic. If you live in Moncton and want to go to the beautiful Margaree River for a weekend, perhaps with your youngsters, forget it. Crossing back and forth from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia has become a logistical nightmare of regulations, isolation periods, vaccination protocols, and even barricades by frustrated residents. Same for someone living in Halifax region wishing to go to the great Miramichi. Too many complications at the moment.

Internationally, there is still no clear plan to open borders for individuals wanting to reach chosen Atlantic salmon rivers in Gaspé, Labrador, New Brunswick or Newfoundland, and with a second summer season upon us, this is leading to extreme frustration. Those depending on the economic benefits of Atlantic salmon angling, and those wishing to travel, really have reached a new height of exasperation.

For those living in the political arena, there needs to be a fresh look at what the science is telling us about the pandemic, and what can be achieved in reopening borders in a timely manner.

While there are certainly concerns about new factors such as the more infectious Delta Variant of Covid-19, the accelerating vaccination programs so efficiently being undertaken by all provinces are having a great, positive impact. Time to look at the potential for solving the travel issues. Certainly one positive sign is that air travel into and out of places such as Fredericton and Saint John is increasing, and PAL Airlines is following through on expanding its routes in the next few months.

The conclusion is that for residents of New Brunswick, go to rivers within the province, or perhaps Quebec. For those in Nova Scotia go to the Margaree, or perhaps a river in Newfoundland or Labrador. For those in Newfoundland, probably best to stay in province. And for those in the U.S., there is still no practical way to visit Canadian Atlantic salmon rivers.

One thing is clear: when the border does reopen, it will be essential to have completed the two vaccinations, plus have the 14-day period following this completed.


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Roméo Bourdages, age 6, releases a nice Atlantic salmon on the Bonaventure River. Photo by Jeff Bourdages

Charles Cusson, ASF Director of Quebec Programs, has just completed a visit to a number of rivers in the Gaspé region.

This coming Monday the entire Province of Quebec will change to “Green” status loosening mandatory protocols. This Green status will still have regulations, and for travelling, it certainly would be important to have a completed vaccination series. Check out this recent news story on the changing requirements.

We are at the 3rd week of June and even with a little bit of help from rainstorms last week, Atlantic salmon rivers are at very low levels and flows for this early in the season. 

Having spent some time in the Gaspé region during the last 10 days, I would say angling conditions were not so bad, but the Atlantic salmon seem to be holding off before entering their native water courses. With this week’s full moon and accompanying tides and encouraging weather forecast, conditions should improve.

River managers continue to ask anglers to report the fish they release to calculate a precise angling success rate.

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One of the first Atlantic salmon through the Matane Fishway, on the northern side of the Gaspé Peninsula. Photo Zec

Bonaventure River

The Bonaventure Zec has published statistics to June 19th reporting that anglers have released 28 salmon. At the same date in 2020, 21 salmon had been reported landed and released.

Causapscal River

For the season to June 22nd, 50 salmon have been reported landed by the CGRMP. This includes 22 releases to date this season. At the same date in 2020, a total of 99 salmon had been reported landed which included 45 releases.

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Anglers are fishing between pools due to very low water on the Causapscal River. Photo Guylain Raymond
Matapedia River

Anglers are reporting a slow start; to June 22nd, 37 salmon have been reported and released. The number of rod-days has dramatically increased (1,597 to date in 2021) compared to the 1,071 sold cumulatively at the same date in 2020.

Patapedia River

It has been a very slow start on the “Pat.” Three salmon have been reported landed and released to date this season. Comparatively to the same date in 2020, 22 fish had been released.

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St-Edgar covered bridge on the Petite Cascapedia River. Charles Cusson/ASF

Matane River

With flow on the increase this week, this will most likely increase the number of fish migrating through the fishway. To June 22nd, 172 fish (159 salmon and 13 grilse) have been counted. Comparatively in 2020 at the same date, a total 139 fish (130 salmon and 9 grilse) had been counted through the fishway,

Gaspé Rivers (York, Dartmouth, and Saint-Jean)

Currently posted angling results on the Saumon Gaspé website are encouraging to June 21st. Local sources are stating the fact that actual results would be much higher if more people took a few minutes to report the salmon they have been releasing. Please help the rivers where you fish by reporting the salmon you release.

To see a breakdown on all three rivers, please visit:

and to register the release of a fish please visit:

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Grand Sablé Pool on the Grande Rivière River. Charles Cusson/ASF

Moisie River

The APRM (Moisie River Protection Association) is reporting as of June 22nd that 11 salmon have been landed within the Zec and Winthrop-Campbell sectors. Also, 1,182 rod-days have been sold to this point in the season, which is within the average from year to year.

Aux Rochers River

To June 21st for the season, 26 fish have been reported landed including 24 salmon and 1 grilse released, 1 grilse harvested. All fish landings have happened in sectors below the fish trap.

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Fresh run Atlantic salmon released by Nicolas Boucher on the Trinité River. Photo Joé Champagne
Québec – Échos des rivières

Le fait que dame nature a contribué « un coup d’eau » la semaine dernière et pendant la fin de semaine, les niveaux d’eau et les débits demeurent à des niveaux bas (mais pêchables) pendant la 3e semaine de juin 2021.

Les consignes de santé publique sont encore en vigueur en raison de la pandémie et le port du masque dans les endroits publics, postes d’accueils, les pourvoiries et les camps demeurent la norme pour l’instant.

Les gestionnaires des rivières vous demandent votre coopération pour la déclaration de vos prises et vos remises à l’eau. Les données sont très importantes pour le calcul du succès de pêche réel.

Rivière Bonaventure

Au 19 juin, la Zec de la rivière Bonaventure fait rapport que 28 saumons ont été pêchés et remis à l’eau. 21 saumons et 3 madeleineaux avaient été déclarés dont la graciation de 21 saumons au 20 juin 2020.

Rivière Causapscal

Cumulativement au 22 juin, la capture de 50 saumons a été déclarée dont 22 relâchés. En 2020 a pareille date, 99 saumons étaient inscrits dans les statistiques de la CGRMP dont 45 remises à l’eau.

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William Cayer Blais releases a salmon back to the Aux Rochers River. Photo Joé Champagne

Rivière Matapédia

Au 22 juin, 37 saumons ont été déclarés capturés et remis à l’eau à ce jour cette saison. Le nombre de jours-pêche continue d’afficher une augmentation marquée par rapport à l’an dernier, soit 1 597 en 2021 comparativement aux 1 071 jours-pêche vendus au 22 juin 2020.

Rivière Patapédia

Un début de saison un peu pénible pour la « Pat », seulement 3 remises à l’eau ont été enregistrées à ce jour cette saison comparativement aux 22 saumons graciés à pareille date en 2020.

Rivières de Gaspé

Les résultats affichés au 21 juin sur le site de la Zec Gaspé présentent un bon succès de pêche jusqu’à ce jour en 2021. Visiter

pour les statistiques et

afin d’enregistrer une remise à l’eau.

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Nicolas Boucher returns a fine salmon to the Trinité River. Photo Joé Champagne
Rivière Matane

Le débit est en montant à la suite des précipitations de cette semaine et va certainement avoir l’effet d’augmenter l’achalandage des saumons par le biais de la passe migratoire. À ce jour, 22 juin, 172 poissons (159 saumons et 13 madeleineaux) ont franchi la rivière.

En date du 22 juin, cumulativement pour la saison 2020, 139 poissons (130 saumons et 9 madeleineaux) avaient franchi la passe migratoire.

Rivière Moisie

En date du 22 juin, l’Association de protection de la rivière Moisie (APRM) annonce le fait que 1 182 jours-pêche ont été vendus jusqu’à ce jour et 20 saumons ont été pêchés dont 11 relâchés pour le secteur de la Zec et Winthrop-Campbell.

Rivière aux Rochers

Au 21 juin, les pêcheurs de la rivière aux Rochers ont capturé cumulativement 26 poissons comprenant 24 saumons et 1 madeleineau relâché et 1 madeleineau conservé. Les captures ont été effectuées dans les secteurs en aval du piège.

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Helsa Paige Harisson and her daughter Maé Jeanne contemplating a strategy for the Offie Pool on the York River. Photo Jean Philippe Lord.


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Jean-Daniel Savard, new executive director of the Restigouche River Watershed Management Council.


Jean-Daniel Savard is the new executive director of the Restigouche River Watershed Management Council (RRWMC). He is an engineer by training and is a graduate of the École Polytechnique de Montréal, with a Masters degree in water management and ecosystems.

He is passionate about sustainable development, as well as nature and the outdoors. And certainly the Restigouche has great scope for these interests. It is a vital position in the restoration of wild Atlantic salmon runs in this great and sprawling watershed known for its large salmon.

Savard succeeds David LeBlanc, who is helping him get a handle on the many projects and challenges. Hopefully the reopening of borders will make this river easier to work on. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 it was very difficult tp work on both sides of this river that for a considerable distance is the border between Québec and New Brunswick

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Rain squalls passing across the Restigouche River created dramatic lighting and resulted in some well needed rain. Bill Taylor/ASF

Bill Taylor, President of ASF, with Michael Meighen, Past-chairman of ASF Canada, were recently on the Restigouche River:

The river was low and fishing slow upon arrival. Showers followed through the night, and that brought the river up an inch and it is still rising.

We released 5 Atlantic salmon in the 10 lb to 20 lb range, plus 3 grilse during 3 days. Water temperature was a perfect 56 F in the morning and 60 F in the evening. We were seeing a few Atlantic salmon moving each session but they don’t seem to be pooling up yet.

Nathan Wilbur, ASF Director of Regional Programs, has been on several sections of New Brunswick rivers in this past week.

The province is receiving some wonderful rains this week, improving river conditions as we head into what is typically the peak of the summer run over the next couple of weeks. 

There have been some encouraging reports from the lower reaches of the Southwest Miramichi with anglers hooking up regularly and seeing salmon on the move. 

I spent Father’s Day hopping around public pools on the Southwest Miramichi from Boiestown down to Quarryville and managed to land a nice shiny grilse and raised a salmon, plus caught glimpses of other fish jumping and rolling. 

Water temperatures are remaining cool and this latest rain should cool them even more. 

Weather forecast looks promising with air temperatures generally less than 25 C and more rain in the forecast for next week. With salmon in the rivers now and favourable water conditions, no better time to be on the river.

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Beautiful conditions at Gray Rapids on the Southwest Miramichi. While Atlantic salmon run remains slow, conditions are perfect for time on the river. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
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Anglers at the mouth of Burntland Brook, in Boiestown area of Southwest Miramichi. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
The Dungarvon Counting Fence, a measure for the Southwest Miramichi, is reporting as of June 20, 2 grilse and 2 large salmon, compared with 2020’s 3 grilse and 7 large salmon.

The Northwest Counting Fence, on the Northwest Miramichi, is reporting 6 grilse and 22 large salmon as of June 20, compared with 22 grilse and 38 large salmon to that date in 2020.

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The Nashwaak River on Thursday evening. The level came up with the rain on Tuesday and early Wednesday, due to the passing tropical storm. Nathan Wilbur/ASF


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Dollar Pool on the Margaree River earlier this week. Water levels need to improve. Photo Patrick Poirier


Patrick Poirier notes:

This week we have seen some rain, giving a slight bump in water .
There has been a slow trickle of Atlantic salmon move in, but lower numbers than in other recent years. There was a nice increase in river levels with the rain mid-week, but that is falling now.

With lupine and wild flowers blooming, the wildlife sounds all about, it’s still a blessed place to be, beside the Margaree River. To hook the mighty Atlantic salmon is an added bonus.

Side note: I was in to one pool and hauled out a full bag of beverage cans. Please take your garbage back out with you . Nothing ruins a beautiful scenery like rubbish left behind.

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Margaree Forks area of the river. Patrick Poirier

Tom Cheney, ASF Manager of Communications, was recently at the Margaree

Last weekend I travelled to Cape Breton to explore the Margaree. It was my first time fishing this fabled Nova Scotia river, but it won’t be my last. 

I was immediately struck by the beauty of the Margaree valley—a river flanked by agricultural land, but surrounded in every direction with steep hills. The vegetation was at spring peak: a sea of green. When I arrived the first evening, I walked over to the edge of the river. A school of gaspereau were creating a commotion on the water’s surface, and I could hear cows mooing in a nearby field and coyotes howling far up in the hills. The ecosystem was very much alive.

I enjoyed an afternoon on the water with guide Robert MacAuley, who showed me some great pools and explained the local etiquette. I met several other anglers who were all very welcoming. There is evidently a strong salmon angling culture here; I observed many vehicles with rod holders, and it seems quite normal to wear waders to the local cafe.

Word was circulating that there were a few fish being caught, although there was also consensus that fishing was slow for this time of year. As elsewhere, the river needed a bit of rain to bring in more fresh fish. Still, I raised one grilse and saw a few salmon move.

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Hedley Fulton angling in Seal Pool on the Margaree this past weekend. Tom Cheney/ASF


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The Terra Nova River as seen on opening day 2020 and 2021, showing the vast difference in water levels between the two year. Photos Ken McLean

The very low water levels across much of the Island of Newfoundland is the main story to date.

Don Ivany, ASF Director of Programs in Newfoundland and Labrador notes:

The big news this week is that the large low-pressure system which moved up the Eastern Seaboard during the past few days and was forecast to arrive in Newfoundland on Wednesday, June 23, bringing with it heavy rain, did not materialize. I

We barely received enough rain on the Island to give the grass a decent soaking and many of the anglers on the Island who were anxiously awaiting the rain were disappointed. To make matters worse, for the past week the island of Newfoundland has been experiencing high air temperatures, in the mid-20s C range, and exceeding 30  C in some areas. As a result, water levels on most island rivers remain low and warm. This has made for less than ideal angling conditions. The good news is, the high-tides we have experienced during the past week seems to have brought  a few new fish into our rivers and as a result there are still a few fish being hooked on various rivers throughout the island.

SPAWN President, John McCarthy, reports an increase in fish presence on Southwest River during the past few days. John also reports that there are fish at Big Falls on the upper Humber River but because the water level is so low and warm, the Atlantic salmon seem to be moving through quickly in an effort to find larger and deeper holding pools upriver, in areas where there or cold water refuges.

Reports indicate that there are a few fish starting to enter the lower section of Main River (Sops Arm) in White Bay. I know of two salmon that were hooked at the Elbow Pool within the last few days. This is about the normal time fish show up on this river.

Gail Butt reports that water levels are low on the Forteau River in Southern Labrador, and air temperatures have been warmer than normal during the past few days. She is not aware of any fish caught on the Forteau River yet, and it is still a little early for that river. Gail reports that water levels are better on the Pinware River and a couple of Atlantic salmon were caught and released there during the past few days.

Rivers to the North of the Pinware did receive significant rain during the past week and water levels on many of these river have increased and are now running high. However, it is still a week or so early for these rivers and I am not aware of any fish being hooked on any of these rivers to date.

Salmon counts to June 20 have been posted, with some increases over 2020. These need to be looked at with caution, as the Covid-19 situation resulted in some counting facilities being in place late, or not at all.

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River Closures due to high temperature

Due to the heat, on Thursday DFO announced the first of the closures:

Jun. 24, 2021

Salmon Rivers Closing in Zone 9 & 10

DFO advises anglers that due to extremely high water temperatures and/or low water levels, the following rivers will be restricted to morning angling only effective one hour after sunset on June 24, 2021.

During this period, angling is permitted from one hour before sunrise to 10:00 am each day, and will be closed to angling from 10:01 am to one hour before sunrise on the following day.

The rivers will reopen as conditions improve. Please refer to page 16 of the 2021 Angler’s Guide for further information on the 2021 environmental protocol.
Zone 9

87. Branch River, St. Mary’s Bay
Zone 10

88. Great Barasway

89. South East River (Placentia) & tributary streams

90. Northeast River, Placentia

91. Come By Chance River

92. Watsons Brook

93. North Harbour River, Placentia Bay

94. Black River, Placentia Bay below falls

95. Piper’s Hole River

For more information please visit the In Season River Status website here  or call the Angling Line at 1-800-782-3058.

The Regional Director General, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador Region gives notice that Variation Orders 2021-062, 2021-063, 2021-064, 2021-065 and 2021-066 have been revoked and Variation Orders 2021-099, 2021-100, 2021-101, 2021-102 and 2021-103 come into effect at 1800 hours on June 24, 2021.

DFO has also made a change to fisheries regulations related to an aquaculture escape in the south coast area:

Change to Management Measures for Ouananiche (Long Pond, Hermitage)

Effective immediately, in response to clean-up efforts concerning an aquaculture fish escape, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is advising anglers that the bag limit and possession limit for Ouananiche in Long Pond, Hermitage, Fortune Bay area (next to Route 364, the Hermitage Highway) is currently varied to “not applicable”.

This will remain in effect until the end of the 2021 angling season.

Note: Daily Bag/Possession Limit/Size Restrictions for Trout and Other Species remain in effect.

DFO is asking members of the public who angle Ouananiche in Long Pond, Hermitage to report their daily catch by contacting the DFO office in Marystown at (709) 279-7863, or via email at:

A disturbing development has been news of a fish kill on the Salmon Cove system, in eastern Newfoundland.

Leo White writes:

You may have heard about the fish kill on the Salmon Cove system. This is the little river that runs out into the ocean at Salmon Cove sands, a very popular tourist attraction. 

Dead fish started showing up over the last weekend. All species and big numbers. 

It appears that the fish included brown trout. I would guess that very few if any adult Atlantic salmon have come in yet but there are kelts and smolts as well as fry and parr that have been killed. 

DFO and Environment have been out there to collect evidence. 

Local people speculate that the Victoria sewage lagoon may be the cause as there is an algae bloom in one of the downstream ponds. Low water and high temperatures may also be factors as there would be very little water to flush the system. Not sure what can be done but there needs to be a call for a thorough investigation.


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June 21 Milford Fishlift count

Jason Valliere, Maine Department of Marine Resources Biologist, notes that Atlantic salmon are coming in slowly this year at Milford, with 292 as of June 21. River temperatures are warm, and water levels are low.


Jennifer Noll of Maine DMR notes:

Temperatures have crept back up to 22 C on the Kennebec River in Waterville. Flows are still at an all time low of 2,340 cfs at the USGS gage in Sidney. 

Seven more salmon were caught in the Lockwood fishlift in the past week. There have been reports from fishermen that more salmon were sighted below Lockwood this week.

A total of 15 Atlantic salmon have been captured at the Lockwood Dam and transported to the Sandy River. In addition, another Atlantic salmon was caught after being stranded on the ledges, and transported.

The stranding on the ledges has been of great cause for concern, and was the subject of a joint press release between ASF and TU this week. Click here for more information.

More photographs related to the stranding and the recovery of salmon, smolts and other fish on the ledges after Brookfield installed flashboards to raise water level can be found in this pdf.


Impatience over barriers to human travel related to Canada and the U.S. are growing. Both interprovincially and internationally it would not be surprising to see some resolution coming soon as this pressure builds on all the governments concerned. It is clear to most that as the number of people with the full inoculation rises, the impact of this dreadful pandemic is declining in North America.

It now appears that Canada plans to use 75 per cent fully vaccinated plus 14 days as the milestone to open the border with the U.S. This would likely come about some time in August.

It is time to break the inertia of maintaining closed borders, at least for those who are fully vaccinated. Systems need to be put in place ahead of that 75 per cent threshold. The rivers and their Atlantic salmon runs are waiting.