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ASF Rivernotes 28 Aug 2020

Volunteers celebrate a restoration home run in Newfoundland and the latest on conservation and angling from around the Atlantic Salmon world.


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A nice large Atlantic salmon being released - but look at the low water level. Christopher Minkoff sends another Atlantic salmon on its way to spawn at Glen Emma on the Matapedia. Photo courtesy Christopher Minkoff
If Atlantic salmon returning to migrate upstream and spawn could ask for a gift it would be for rain and cool nights. Thankfully single digit temperatures have returned and rain is in the forecast.

Yet despite the hot and dry summer this year, Atlantic salmon have showed up in respectable numbers compared to recent years.

It seems Atlantic salmon at sea experienced a better winter, with some combination of sufficient food supply, lower predation, and lower levels of fishing in Greenland waters.

Now there is talk of Hurricane Laura that may impact Nova Scotia and parts of Newfoundland this coming weekend. These storms cause great damage and no one loses sight of that, but they leave behind a lot of rain too – encouragement for salmon to start moving again.


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Rattling Brook's 1000th Atlantic salmon in the capture trap. Photo from Al Paddock, Rattling Brook Salmon Restoration Committee
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Sending Atlantic salmon number 1000 on its way upstream to spawn. Photo from Al Paddock, Rattling Brook Salmon Restoration Committee
Rattling Brook Counts 1,000 Atlantic salmon in 2020

The Rattling Brook watershed in central Newfoundland is small by the standard of other salmon rivers, but its 384 square kilometre (150 square mile) watershed includes some remarkably productive  habitat.

For example, an archaeological dig at the mouth of the river in 2005 uncovered artifacts from three waves of Indigenous settlement, one more than 5,000 years old. The lead archaeologist at the time proclaimed, “this site is probably the largest warm season salmon processing site in all of North America.”

Angling on Rattling Brook caught on in the early 20th century, but then salmon were completely blocked by the construction of a hydro dam with no fish passage in the 1950s.

Some Rattling Brook salmon were moved to the nearby Big Rattling Brook and other waterways. They established themselves, but the run on Rattling Brook was finished.

That’s until the nearby town of Norris Arm struck a committee in 1999 to investigate the possibility of a recovery program. Officials determined that restoration could provide $3 million in annual revenue to the community through a sustainable recreation fishery and the Rattling Brook Salmon Restoration Committee was born.

Starting in 2011, 50 adult salmon were captured from Big Rattling Brook, where the original Rattling Brook salmon were relocated, and placed back in their ancestral stream.

By 2013, Newfoundland Power, had completed their contribution to the project; a $5 million project to establish fish passage at the utility’s hydro dam on Rattling Brook.

Transplanting adults continued for four more season. When stocking was complete, 2,310 fish had been placed throughout the Rattling Brook watershed. With primary problems like fish passage addressed, the number of salmon returning kept increasing, hitting a milestone 1,000 and counting this year.

The perseverance of the Rattling Brook Salmon Restoration Committee, and the willing participation of partners like the Exploits River Environmental Resources Management Association, DFO, and NL Power are a model to follow.

Salmon conservation is a marathon, and Rattling Brook is proof that when the right decisions are made, wild Atlantic Salmon respond.

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Newfoundland counts to Aug. 23
While not every Atlantic salmon river on the island of Newfoundland is doing well, there are many that have improved significantly over 2019.

The Exploits River is one of those, and with relief the count is just about at 20,000, and a 51 per cent improvement over 2019.

It seems that the West Coast rivers are doing well, overall, although it is a pity that DFO is not operating the Didson counting equipment on Harry’s River in 2020.

Little Barachois Brook
 has reached 776, nearly double the 417 last year. And Corner Brook Stream, another stream being restored, has reached a record return of 178, far better than the 78 last year, or 95, the last five-year average.

There is much to celebrate, even though many rivers have been hot and dry.

Changing Status of Salmon Rivers

With the change to cooler temperatures, quite a number of rivers have recently reopened. To check the status of rivers, go to:

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The Fischelles River in the Bay St. George area shows how low water levels have been. This image taken Aug. 10. Don Ivany/ASF

Don Ivany, ASF Director of Newfoundland and Labrador programs, recently returned from retrieving Atlantic salmon tracking receivers in the Strait of Belle Isle. Here is his update on conditions now.

……And Then The Rains Came.

After one of the hottest and driest summers on record here in Newfoundland we are finally receiving some much-needed rain throughout the province. Heavy rain late last week and again this week has also brought some cooler air temperatures. As a result, water levels on most rivers in the province are on the rise and water temperatures are finally starting to cool down. More rain is in the forecast for the weekend as Hurricane Laura slowly makes its way north, but currently weather forecasters are predicting that NL will not be hard hit by this storm. That forecast could change as the hurricane moves closer.

As for fishing in Newfoundland up to August 20th , most rivers in the province were experiencing very low water levels and very high-water temperatures. This led DFO to close most rivers throughout the Island portion of the province, and/or they restricted fishing to early morning outings only. The poor fishing conditions and river closures during the past two weeks meant very few anglers were fishing. For those who did fish, angling success was very low. But the Atlantic salmon were there, indicated by reports of many fish seen in the rivers on the island and at river mouths. This was encouraging to hear.

In Labrador, no rivers were closed for environmental reasons, although some probably should have been closed, given the low water conditions and warm water temperatures that were experienced in some areas.

This was especially true in Southern Labrador.

Hopefully, we will hear good fishing reports during the next week or two, which would be a great way to close out the season.

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Mark Molloy released this Atlantic salmon in the Gander River on Aug. 9. Photo from Mark Molloy
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A nice leap for an Atlantic salmon on the Gander River on Aug. 9. Photo Mark Molloy
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Labrador Atlantic salmon counts to Aug. 23


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Trout fishing for big salmon - the Middle Stretch of the Lower North Branch of the Little Southwest Miramichi is dotted with crafty pools giving salmon respite as the climb to headwater spawning grounds. Blue skies in background replaced storm clouds after a day of much needed rain. Photo Neville Crabbe/ASF
Nathan Wilbur, ASF Director of New Brunswick Programs, says:

Finally the rains and cooler weather have come, but maybe not to the extent we need.

Some of the rivers have seen localized rain and good raises in water. With the cool nights, water temperatures are now down to fairly comfortable conditions from Atlantic salmon between 15-20 degrees Celsius on most rivers with temperature gauges.

(Below is a graph of the Upsalquitch. To check updates, go to:

This change to cooler, wetter conditions has resulted in some excellent fishing reports over the past few days, mostly in areas where summer run salmon are holding close to cold water pools.

Of course, the fall run hasn’t kicked off yet but these conditions should start tempting salmon in the estuaries to begin making their way upriver. We’ll need more rain and a big raise in water for that. Fingers crossed for hurricane remnants this weekend and next week. From past experience, a big raise in water in early September can provide some of the best fishing of the season.

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The Upsalquitch, part of the Restigouche system, shows the uptick in river level, and the cooling tempertures. River Level in green; temperature in orange
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Looking upstream from Little Huller Pool on the Lower North Branch of the Little Southwest Miramichi on August 25th. A sustained downpour soaked the woods and poured enough water into this complex tributary to set salmon waiting in holding pools on the move. Photo Neville Crabbe/ASF

Paul Elson made a few comments on the conditions this summer:

I haven’t been out fishing much due to the warm/low water since middle of July, but will possibly start morning fishing in the next week as the overnight temperatures are getting down between 10-15C and the water temperatures are starting to drop.

I have noticed a significant increase in repeat or 3 season MSW fish this year, possibly from the ASF/Greenland agreement, a great sign.

Water on the Little Southwest, Northwest and Renous was extremely low. In fact, it was close to the lowest I have ever seen.We need that hurricane to come through…

The Northwest Miramichi Barrier has not had many fish in the week ending Aug. 23. To that date a total of 89 grilse and 128 large salmon have been counted, vs. 122 grilse and 49 large salmon in 2019.

The Dungarvon Barrier, a measure used for the Southwest Miramichi, has had only a single grilse in the week to Aug. 23. The total to that date in 2020 is 86 grilse and 70 large salmon, vs. 81 grilse and 68 large salmon in 2019.

St. John River

The Aug. 15 counts are posted, and they continue to be low.

To that date there have been 120 large salmon, vs. 183 in 2019 to Aug. 15 – and vs. 1,032 for the average of 1997 to 2001.

For grilse, there have been 330 to Aug. 15, vs. 498 in 2019 to that date, and vs. 2,768 for the five-year average 1997 to 2001.


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A large Atlantic salmon being released by Christopher Minkoff on the Glen Emma section of the Matapedia River. Photo courtesy of Christopher Minkoff
Water levels recently were abysmal and similar to 2019 low levels. Although anglers are having some success on certain rivers, any help from Mother Nature will be received with thanks.

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.

Les niveaux d’eau continuent d’être très bas et semblables aux bas niveaux de 2019. Bien que les pêcheurs connaissent un certain succès sur certaines rivières, toute aide de dame nature sera reçue avec gratitude.
Les données utilisées dans ce rapport proviennent de divers sites web, des médias sociaux et de sources gouvernementales québécoises. Les informations peuvent changer sans avis au préalable en ce qui concerne les comparatifs des saisons précédentes.

Rivières York, Dartmouth and St-Jean Rivers

Most recent catch statistics are available at:

Les statistiques récentes des prises peuvent être consultées au :

Rivière Cascapedia River

The MicMac Camp is reporting very low water conditions (but have seen lower). The success rate their guests are experiencing remains strong. To Aug. 10, anglers have landed and released 578 salmon. For the entire 2019 season, guests had released a total of 595 salmon.

Le camp MicMac fait rapport de condition d’eau très basse. Par contre, le taux de succès de leurs clients demeure élevé. Au 10 août, cumulativement pour la saison, leurs clients ont capturé et relâché 578 saumons. Pendant la saison 2019, ils avaient relâché un total de 595 saumons.

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Micmac Camp guest Vincent Gauthier releases a late July Cascapedia salmon. Photo and guiding: Dylan Bishop
Rivière Bonaventure River

Conditions on the river continue to be challenging. To August 15th, for the season, a total of 881 fish have been landed (592 salmon released and 289 grilse).

Compared to August 10th, 2019, to date, 762 fish had been reported landed including 602 released and 160 grilse harvested.

To August 11, 2018, for the season 1,080 fish were reported land to that date including 704 released and 378 grilse harvested.

Les conditions de pêche continuent d’être difficiles. Au 15 août, cumulativement pour la saison, 881 poissons ont été capturés dont 592 saumons relâchés et 289 madeleineaux récoltés.

Par rapport au 10 août 2019, à ce jour, 762 poissons avaient été déclarés capturés, dont 602 relâchés et 160 madeleineaux récoltés.

Au 11 août 2018, pour la saison, 1 080 poissons avaient été capturés, dont 704 relâchés et 378 madeleineaux récoltés.

Rivière Matane River

The Matane continues to have great migration numbers. To August 16th a total of 2,278 fish have been counted (1,478 salmon and 800 grilse).

A year ago, to August, 20 2019, 1,690 fish had been counted including 1,054 large salmon and 636 grilse.

Cumulatively on August 21, 2018, a total of 1,654 fish had migrated through the fishway including 898 large salmon and 756 grilse.

On the angling side as of August 16th, 519 fish have been landed (213 salmon and 54 grilse released, 49 salmon and 203 grilse harvested).

To August 20th, 2019, 492 fish had been reported to have been landed which included 198 large salmon and 28 grilse released. Also, 58 large salmon and 208 grilse had been harvested.

Le décompte de la Matane maintien son rythme très encourageant, au 16 août, 2 278 poissons ont été dénombrés dont 1 478 saumons et 800 madeleineaux.

Cumulativement au 20 août 2019, 1 690 poissons avaient été dénombrés, dont 1 054 saumons et 636 madeleineaux. Au 21 août 2018, un total de 1 654 poissons avait migré dans la passe migratoire, dont 898 saumons et 756 madeleineaux.

Du côté de la pêche sportive au 16 août, 519 poissons ont été capturés (213 saumons et 54 madeleineaux relâchés, 49 saumons et 203 madeleineaux récoltés).

Au 20 août 2019, 492 poissons auraient été capturés, dont 198 saumons et 28 madeleineaux relâchés. De plus, 58 saumons et 208 madeleineaux avaient été récoltés.

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Clément Bernier releases one of the 1,478 large salmon that have migrated back to the Matane is year. Photo Marie France Langlois
Rivière Madeleine River

The Madeleine river is situated on the north side of the Gaspé peninsula and has a very special fishway that was designed back in the 1960’s which is excavated in the mountain next to the natural waterfall that fish can’t navigate. The late Wilfred Carter, chairman emeritus of ASF was involved at the time as an employee of the Quebec provincial government.

To date on August 17th, 1,563 fish have been counted made up of 847 salmon and 716 grilse.

On August 21st, 2019, a total of 725 fish had been counted including 516 large salmon and 209 grilse.

At the same date in August 2018, 647 fish had migrated through the fishway including 335 large salmon and 312 grilse.

La rivière Madeleine est située sur le côté nord de la péninsule gaspésienne et possède une passe migratoire très spéciale qui a été conçue dans les années 1960 et qui est creusée dans la montagne à côté de la cascade naturelle que les poissons ne peuvent pas franchir. Le regretté Wilfred Carter, président émérite de la FSA était impliqué a l’époque dans ce projet comme employé du gouvernement du Québec.

Cumulativement au 17 août, 1 563 poissons ont été dénombrés, soit 847 saumons et 716 madeleineaux.

Le 21 août 2019, un total de 725 poissons avait été dénombré dont 516 saumons et 209 madeleineaux. À la même date en août 2018, 647 poissons avaient migré à travers la passe migratoire, dont 335 saumons et 312 madeleineaux.

Rivière Matapédia River

The CGRMP which manages the Matapedia, Patapedia and the Causapscal Rivers are reporting 845 fish landed for the season to August 16th, of which 528 released and 317 harvested.

On the same date in 2019, 934 had been landed on the Matapedia comprised of 577 fish released and 357 fish harvested.

To the same date in 2018, CGRMP reported a total of 886 fish landed which included 446 released and 450 fish harvested.

La CGRMP, corporation qui gère les rivières Matapédia, Patapédia et Causapscal déclarent que 845 poissons ont été capturés cumulativement au 16 août, dont 528 relâchés et 317 récoltés.

À la même date en 2019, 934 avaient été capturés sur la Matapédia, soit 577 relâchés et 357 récoltés.

En 2018 au 16 aout, la CGRMP a signalé un total de 886 poissons capturés, dont 446 relâchés et 450 récoltés.

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Daniel Miville releases a Nouvelle River salmon back on its way to spawn. Photo Louis Laframme
Rivière Mitis River

This season to August 17th, 674 salmon and 657 grilse have been counted for a total of 1,331 fish. 100 fish have been released and 49 fish harvested for a total of 149 fish landed.

As of August 21st, 2019, 846 fish including 422 salmon and 424 grilse had been counted using the trap infrastructure. Also, to date, 174 fish have been landed by anglers including 81 large salmon released and 93 grilse harvested.

In 2018 at the same August date, 431 fish including 94 large salmon and 337 grilse were counted. Also, to date, 73 fish had been reported landed including 15 salmon released and 58 grilse harvested.

Cette saison au 17 août, 674 saumons et 657 madeleineaux ont été dénombrés pour un total de 1 331. 100 ont été relâchés et 49 récoltés pour un total de 149.

En date du 21 août 2019, 846 poissons, dont 422 saumons et 424 madeleineaux, avaient été dénombrés. De plus, à ce jour, 174 poissons ont été capturés par les pêcheurs sportifs, dont 81 saumons relâchés et 93 madeleineaux récoltés.

En 2018, à la même date en août, 431 poissons, dont 94 saumons et 337 madeleineaux étaient dénombrés. De plus, à ce jour, 73 poissons ont été déclarés capturés, dont 15 saumons relâchés et 58 madeleineaux récoltés.

Rivière Rimouski River

To August 16th, 355 fish have been counted (195 salmon and 160 grilse) To the same date in 2019, 575 fish had migrated through the fishway (281 salmon and 204 grilse).

Also, to date in 2020, anglers have landed 52 fish comprised of 27 salmon released and 25 grilse harvested.

At the same date in 2018, 395 fish were counted through the fishway (220 large salmon and 179 grilse). Anglers had landed for the season to date, 47 large salmon had been released and 38 grilse harvested for a total of 86.

Au 16 août, 355 poissons ont été dénombrés (195 saumons et 160 madeleineaux) à pareille date en 2019, 575 poissons avaient été dénombrés (281 saumons et 204 madeleineaux).

De plus, à ce jour en 2020, les pêcheurs sportifs ont capturé 52 poissons, dont 27 saumons relâchés et 25 madeleineaux récoltés.

Cumulativement à la même date en 2018, 395 poissons ont été dénombrés (220 saumons et 179 madeleineaux). Les pêcheurs avaient relâché à ce jour 47 saumons et récolté 38 madeleineaux pour un total de 86.

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Ryan Cyr releases a salmon on the Matapedia. Photo Chesley Court


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Counts at Milford Fishlift on Penobscot River to Aug. 27, 2020.

Jason Valliere, Scientist with the Maine Department of Marine Resources, says:

The Milford fishlift is back up and running after the scheduled maintenance shutdown. We captured 3 MSW this week at Milford plus 1 MSW at Orono adding to our total which is now 1,443 Atlantic salmon.

A total of 221 fish (190 MSW and 31 Grilse) have been sent to Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery for broodstock.

Counts have not been adjusted for in-season recaptures based on PIT Tag, Radio Tag, or proration. Counts will be adjusted as data become available.


ASF and partners have continued to be active in restoration work, especially on tributaries of the Kennebec River in August.

Maranda Nemeth has been working on parr surveys on the Sandy River, the segment of the Kennebec River where adult salmon are trucked due its excellent salmon habitat.

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ASF's Maranda Nemeth measures parr on the Sandy River
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Atlantic salmon parr tend to be very healthy in the Sandy River.

Clover Mill Stream

Maranda Nemeth writes:

Alex Abbott who works with ASF’s partner USFWS, is at the Clover Mill crossing on a small tributary to Temple Stream.

The stream bed and banks have been reconstructed with the crossing to provide adequate fish passage and habitat. The construction continues over the new few weeks to install the metal arch over the stream and road with new guardrails.

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Alex Abbott at the Clover Mill crossing. Maranda Nemeth/ASF


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East Branch of the St. Mary's River upstream of Silver's Pool. Kris Hunter/ASF
Streams throughout Nova Scotia have been very low and warm until the last few days. Now it is likely that the entire province may see the effect of Hurricane Laura this coming weekend.
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MacNeil's Brook, a tributary of the Rights River Antigonish. Kris Hunter/ASF


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The Miminegash River flows into the ocean on the western side of Prince Edward Island. Photo Danny Murphy/Roseville/Miminegash Watersheds Inc.
Miminegash River

In the fall of 2018 Atlantic salmon parr were found in this small, shady river on the western margin of Prince Edward Island. It showed that wild adult Atlantic salmon had returned to this small river. They had been absent since before 2001 from this river, and much of the story remains a mystery. The Roseville/Miminegash Watersheds Inc. is taking this river very seriously, and continues to work to improve fish passage and remove obstructions such as beaver dams. It is hoped this can facilitate the restoration of the wild Atlantic salmon in this river. It is the only river on the western edge of PEI to have juvenile Atlantic salmon.


A few thoughts from here and there.

Alta River, Norway

Chris Buckley, ASF Director says:

A 51 pound, 54 inch hen was caught and released on the Alta last week.

That such Atlantic salmon exist makes them one of the wonders of the world. These are fish of great physical power and endurance that we all should celebrate.