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ASF Rivernotes 3 Sept 2020

Lower water temperatures bring relief to Atlantic salmon in North American rivers


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Snorkel survey organized by Bay St. George South Development Association in Little Barachois Brook in western Newfoundland. Photo Clarence Goodyear
Across the range of Atlantic salmon in North America there are many rivers where counting barriers were not activated in 2020 due to pandemic health concerns for DFO and other personnel.

In these conditions there are advantages to considering snorkel surveys to augment assessments.

On Aug. 11 the Bay St. George South Development Association supported a snorkel survey of Little Barachois Brook. Such Snorkel surveys of rivers in the Bay St. George region are exhausting for participants, but can provide excellent information on the health of salmon populations in these streams.

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The volunteer crew of snorkelers prepare to tackle a segment of the river. Photo Clarence Goodyear

DFO has done an excellent job this year in compiling and sharing the count data as it becomes available for the rivers that have operating facilities. Usually the data is posted within two or three days.

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Newfoundland salmon counts to Aug. 30

Atlantic salmon continue to come in to Newfoundland rivers, undoubtedly helped by recent rains and cooling temperatures.

Rattling Brook that recently passed the 1,000 salmon mark is now up to 1,153.

The Exploits River continues to increase, and should pass the 20,000 mark in the next week or so.

Little Barachois Brook has reached 782, almost double the Aug. 30 count of 486 last year.

Gros Morne reopens

Check for details, but Gros Morne National Park has reopened for Atlantic salmon angling, and numbers of other scheduled rivers are open.

Closing for Season

The salmon angling season for most Newfoundland rivers closes on Sept. 7. In Labrador the date is Sept. 15. And the Live Release season on the Gander, Humber and Exploits continues to Oct. 7.

Dates posted: Click here

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Labrador DFO counts to Aug. 30, 2020
This year has had times of low water, but now cool temperatures and higher flows are in place. Overall it has been a better year for Labrador salmon. For anglers, it is been nearly impossible for those from “away” to gain access.
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Flowers River in Labrador. Photo Flowers River Lodge


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Sylvie Malo-Clark with a fine large salmon brought in on Southwest Miramichi near the Black Brook Salmon Club. Photo Peter D. Clark
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Ripples of an Atlantic salmon at the Black Brook Salmon Club on the Southwest Miramichi. Photo Sylvie Malo-Clark

Most reports are of a modest increase in water levels, but levels are now dropping and more rain is needed. Temperatures have certainly dropped.

Sylvie Malo-Clark
 shared a nice image of an Atlantic salmon brought in at the Black Brook Salmon Club. She says:

I fished at Black Brook Aug. 30 and 31 and brought in three large salmon and one grilse, totalling the daily live release limit on each day which is two salmon. All of these salmon came to small flies. It must be my lucky cap.

The Dungarvon Counting Barrier is reporting no new large salmon or grilse in the week ending Aug. 30, with 86 grilse and 70 large salmon to that date, compared with 81 grilse and 68 large salmon in 2019.

Paul Elson reporting on the river:

We had about 28mm rain here between Saturday and Sunday nights. The Northwest Miramichi was rising earlier in the week.

I managed to land a grilse, hooked and lost a nice large salmon and moved two others. All fish where angled on skated bombers.

When I left the river, the water was up about three inches and had almost peaked. We still need much more rain to get things to a good level. Fall is in the air, and the first signs of colour on the trees.

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Northwest Miramichi on Sept. 1, 2020. Photo Paul Elson
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Water levels on the Northwest Miramichi River are still well below optimum on Sept. 1. Photo Paul Elson

At the Northwest Miramichi Barrier, a few salmon were counted. To Aug. 30 there have been 99 grilse and 129 large salmon, compared with 128 grilse and 49 large salmon last year. In the last week to Aug. 30 all but one were grilse this year.

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Water levels could use a rise on the Northwest Miramichi. Photo Paul Elson
Bill Taylor:

I was on the Little Southwest Miramichi for a few days last week.

The river was low but the cool evenings kept the water temperatures ideal, high 50’s F in the early morning maxing out in the mid 60’s F late in the afternoons.

There were impressive numbers of both large salmon and grilse in the holding pools. Our group enjoyed both good fishing and catching, mostly on dry flies.

We released a few small salmon and several grilse and saw a good number of big salmon in the 12-20 pound range that would rise to our flies but wouldn’t take.

There appears to be more large spawners than usual this year, a good indication that our Greenland Salmon Conservation Agreement is having a positive effect. The weekend rain gave the river a much needed bump but more rain is needed to attract the fall run and get the fish that are stacked up in the holding pools continuing their upriver migration.”

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Scoping the pool for salmon ahead of the evening’s fishing on the Little Southwest Miramichi. Photo by Damon Goodwin
St. John River

The DFO count to Aug 31: 120 large salmon, compared with 183 to same date in 2019, and 1,048 average for 1997 to 2001 year.

For grilse, there were 330 to Aug. 31, compared with 499 in 2019 and 2,816 average for 1997-2001.


David Leblanc of the Restigouche River Watershed Management Committee said early this week:

The Restigouche River is low; close to extremely low. But the temperature has dropped which is good. Sunday night the air temperature was down to 1 C.

The low water conditions have favoured beavers building dams, even on major streams. For example, there is one about 10 km up the Patapedia that we will need to take out this fall to allow salmon passage upstream.

Overall, the number of fish in the river in 2020 has been very good. We should know more when DFO conducts a snorkel count in mid-September.

About the border, he has personally found travel easier. He is set up with permission, and they check his registration each time. But it does allow the Restigouche River to be accessed from both shores now.


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William Drapeau releases a female salmon on the York. Photo taken by William Drapeau, with timer and tripod
As we begin the last month of the Atlantic salmon season, low water conditions are a major factor affecting angling success in August on many rivers.

To date, many rivers have good numbers of fish and recent rains should provide better angling for the next week.

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.

Alors que nous commençons le dernier mois de la saison, les conditions d’eaux basses ont affecté le succès de la pêche sportive en août sur plusieurs rivières.

À ce jour, de nombreuses rivières connaissent de très bonnes montaisons et les pluies récentes devraient produire des bonnes conditions de pêches durant la prochaine semaine.

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, St-Jean Rivers

Most recent catch statistics are available at:

Les statistiques récentes des prises peuvent être consultées au :

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Nicole Boutin at Spruin Rock on the York River. Photo Claudel Francoeur
Rivière Cascapédia River

The Micmac camp is reporting a milestone of 704 salmon landed and released by their guests to date as of August 27th. This surpasses a total of 595 for the entire 2019 season.

À date au 27 aout, le camp Micmac partage le fait que leurs clients ont connu un très bon succès de pêche cette saison en déclarant la prise de 704 saumons remis à l’eau. Dépassant le total enregistré en 2019, soit 595 saumons.

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David St. Laurent releases an early fall salmon on the Matane River. Photo Michel Grenier
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Olivier Bélanger releases a salmon on the Mistigougèche River. Photo Alexandre Dionne
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The Margaree is still low, but more importantly the water temperatures have dropped. Photo Patrick Poirier
Kris Hunter, ASF Director for Programs in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, writes:


Last Friday the Margaree reopened to fishing.

The mainstem below Doyles Bridge, and the Southwest between Creamery and Scotsville bridges had been closed on Aug. 7 due to the warm temperatures and low water.

The Northeast above Doyle’s was not closed.

A few storms over the past few weeks have brought some much needed rain and cooler temperatures. While this rain helped to raise the river, it is the cooler temperatures that are allowing the river to reopen.

While some fishermen remain concerned about the low water levels, fish are reported to be jumping in the lower sections and those in the estuary are awaiting further rains to bring them up into the system.

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Margaree River this week. Photo Patrick Poirier
Northumberland Strait Rivers

Kris Hunter continues:

With the turn of the calendar to September, salmon season in the Northumberland Strait Rivers has officially begun.

As for the Margaree, temperatures in many of these rivers were very warm, with fishermen reporting from across the region lower water levels and warmer water than they had seen in quite some time.

The recent rains have brought cooler weather that is seeing the temperatures drop but despite this many rivers remain low.

Reports are starting to come in from fishermen across the northern region that salmon are now swimming in the estuaries of these rivers. While it is still too early to tell what the season will bring, fishermen remain ever optimistic.


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Clover Mill Crossing on Temple Stream. Maranda Nemeth/ASF
ASF’s Maranda Nemeth notes:

Clover Mill crossing replacement over a small tributary of the is nearing completion.

Metal arch installation was completed last week right before remnant hurricane rains swept through. Only about an inch of rain and the flows have already receded to a small trickle but stream flow is naturally moving through the road crossing, achieving a major goal to restore fish passage and aquatic conditions. Also can note the shelf along the re-built stream banks to facilitate wildlife crossing.

The crew is now working to rebuilt the road base and guardrails will also be installed for safety protection.