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ASF Rivernotes 30 July 2020


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Joanne Lapointe releases a 28 lb. salmon in the Cascapedia River. Photo courtesy Louis St. Laurent


For anyone interested in getting out on New Brunswick salmon rivers, and who is a resident of the province, there is a deal for you.

Recently announced, the Explore NB Travel Incentive Program will give residents a 20% rebate on approved staycation expenses, which include accommodation, food, and guiding. The program is in effect now, and will continue until the end of September.

Brock Curtis
 of Curtis Miramichi Outfitters in Blackville notes that more people are taking care of their receipts.

“Nice to see that the rebate program is in place. We need to hand it to the government for doing something that tries to assist businesses that are out in the rural areas and along the rivers in the province,” says Brock.


Brock Curtis has the following report of conditions on the river:

“The water is certainly low, and there hasn’t been much rain, but lots of Atlantic salmon in the river. I hear reports and have seen salmon swirling in the Quarryville, Blackville and Cains. I was teaching a lesson in spey casting and saw a dozen salmon out in the river.

“It really is encouraging to see the number of Atlantic salmon moving in.”

Brock did have some comments on the reports from the Dungarvon protection barrier:

The Dungarvon is not a good index river for the main part of the Southwest Miramichi. Mostly it will measure salmon moving up into the Renous branch.

We need real river by river evidence to understand the stocks in rivers like the Cains.

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The protection barrier on the Dungarvon River holds salmon migrating upstream until the fall, keeping them out of the reach of poachers until they are released at spawning time. It also serves as a counting site for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Dungarvon Protection Barrier

To July 26, there have been 77 grilse and 68 large salmon, both slightly ahead of 2019 returns.

Northwest Miramichi Protection Barrier

To July 26, the grilse number is 72, while the large salmon number is 120. This is compared with 2019 numbers of 86 and just 38 large salmon.

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Northwest Miramichi River is seeing a great improvement in large Atlantic salmon in 2020 compared to last year.


Generally the water levels are low, and water temperatures are up. DFO in Newfoundland is doing a good job of getting out information from their counting facilities, even if they were installed late due to restrictions on movement required during the pandemic.

This means some counts appear lower than last year, but this may not reflect actual migration numbers. DFO scientists will evaluate the totals at the end of the season to determine the effect of the late fence installations.

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DFO Newfoundland and Labrador fishway counts to July 26th.

After a relatively rotten 2019, the Exploits River is posting good numbers for 2020, inching toward the high levels seen since 2011.

Corner Brook Stream

Keith Piercey wrote on July 26th:

“This was an amazing day to be checking the Corner Brook Stream trap with six fish showing up. They like to move when the water is a bit murky. I believe this salmon is the biggest we have ever had. Estimated length is about 38” (96.5cm) putting it at 22 lb (9.8 kg).

“The one in under it was approximately 26″ (66 cm) or 7.4 lb (3.36 k) and number 3 was definitely a grilse. As of this afternoon the total is 113 fish. I plan to check it again around 8 PM to see if we can break the record of 115 by this same date in 2009.”

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Large salmon in the Corner Brook Stream trap on July 26, 2020. Photo Keith Piercey
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Indian Brook, near the community of Springdale, is low like most Newfoundland salmon rivers, but is still holding good numbers of fish. Photo Ralph Hiscock
Don Ivany, ASF Director of NL programs, writes:

“Low water levels and high temperatures have been the experience for most anglers in Newfoundland and Labrador this week. In addition, many rivers have already surpassed their peak run times meaning fewer fish are now being observed. With a few exceptions, people province-wide are reporting that angling has gone from extremely good to very poor in the past few days.

“These conditions have led DFO to impose warm water rules, restricting angling on many rivers to the morning only. close a number of rivers which are now restricted to morning fishing only.

“Rain is in the forecast for much of the province next week, so hopefully this will improve water levels and cool the temperatures down.

“There are still good reports coming from the Gander River and Exploits River where water levels and temperatures have been more favourable resulting in some good fishing.

For information on warm water restrictions and closures visit: https://inter-j01.dfo-mpo.gc.c…


The three active counting facilities in Labrador are showing improvement over 2019.

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Salmonid Council of Newfoundland and Labrador President Leo White looks over Army’s Pool on the Forteau River, Labrador, in anticipation of an evening fish on July 21, 2020. Don Ivany/ASF

Don Ivany reports from Labrador:

I vacationed last week in Southern Labrador and managed to spend a little time fishing on the ForteauPinware, and St. Charles rivers. Action was extremely slow on all thee and very few fish were observed. Reports indicate the same for Mary’s Harbour River as well. Water levels were low and water temperatures were pretty warm at the time.

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‘The Flats’ on the lower section of the Pinware River in Southern Labrador, on 22 July 2020. Don Ivany/ASF
Eagle River

Dwight Lethbridge of Pratt Falls Lodge wrote on July 28:

“The river is now the lowest we have seen it for years during our fishing season, and it is a nice treat. It makes for slightly more difficult navigation, but good fishing. There’s not a ton of fish in the river, but they are holding up quite good in some of the top pools, and fresh fish continue to trickle in. Reports from net fishers in the bay indicate that there are still plenty of fish in the salt water so we expect some good fishing for a while yet.

“Our departing group had a great week. Water was warm and days were bright but between a group of seven, I overheard them say they hooked over 80 fish, and 2 others here reported their best success in 5 years. That’s all good with us and it’s always good to hear them ask about dates for next year when they board the plane.

“The weather has cooled and with that the water has dropped back to around 64-65F. We had a new group arrive yesterday and they’ve already had some success. One boat in their first half day of fishing got into six fish so that’s a pretty good start for them. There were some hard rain showers so we hope the river level just maintains now.”

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St. Charles River in southern Labrador earlier this week. Don Ivany/ASF


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Casting in the Dartmouth River. Photo Quebec Sporting

Charles Cusson, ASF Director of Programs for Quebec, says:

“At time of this report, water levels are still extremely low and water temperatures on the high side on most rivers. But a glimmer of hope for precipitation in strategic places such as Murdochville and Amqui in the Gaspé and Fermont on the North Shore will hopefully bring needed water to our rivers soon.

“This is the time of year when in-river counts are being performed to ascertain abundance which could allow harvesting of large salmon on certain rivers as of August 1st as stipulated in Quebec’s Atlantic Salmon Management Plan. A healthy increase in the number of grilse compared to last year is being observed.

NOTE: Reminder to anglers fishing Quebec Rivers to take the time to report your releases to have the most accurate angling statistics and for the river managers to accurately calculate angling success.

ESSENTIAL ANGLER TIP: In warm water, keep the amount of time your fish is on the line to a minimum and please keep them in the water during the entire release process. There is no pre-set amount of time prescribed to release a fish, it will tell you when it’s ready to go.

Facts used in 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.

Au moment de la création de ce rapport, les niveaux d’eau sont toujours extrêmement bas et la température de l’eau est élevée sur la plupart des rivières. Mais une lueur d’espoir de précipitations dans des endroits stratégiques comme Murdochville et Amqui en Gaspésie et Fermont sur la Côte-Nord apportera, nous l’espérons, de l’eau qui est nécessaire depuis plusieurs semaines.

C’est la période de l’année où les décomptes en rivière sont effectués pour déterminer l’abondance qui pourrait éventuellement permettre la récolte de grand saumon sur certaines rivières à partir du 1er août, comme le stipule le plan de gestion du saumon atlantique. Jusqu’à ce jour, il y a une augmentation encourageante du nombre de madeleineaux observé et pêché comparativement à l’année dernière.

Les conditions d’eau plus chaude étant la norme en ce moment, veuillez svp réduire au minimum la durée du combat si vous piquez un saumon et veuillez les garder le poisson dans l’eau pendant tout le processus de la remise à l’eau. Il n’y a pas de temps prédéfini pour relâcher un poisson, il vous indiquera quand il est prêt à partir.

Rappel aux saumoniers pêchant les rivières du Québec, prenez le temps de rapporter vos prises et remise à l’eau afin d’avoir des statistiques précises et que les gestionnaires de rivière puissent calculer le succès de pêche avec précision.

Tight Lines!

Les données utilisées dans ce rapport proviennent de divers sites Web, médias sociaux et des sources du gouvernement du Québec.

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Wide angle view of Petite Cascapedia. Photo Christian Kirouac
Rivières York, Dartmouth, St-Jean Rivers

The in-river counts were performed on the three Gaspé rivers. The results indicated enough abundance to permit a harvest of a quota of 50 large salmon on the St-Jean, 35 for the Dartmouth and 70 for the York.

In-river counts were performed last weekend:

York – 1,168 salmon and 424 grilse for a total of 1,592

Dartmouth – 575 salmon and 150 grilse for a total of 725

Saint-Jean – 672 salmon and 300 grilse for a total of 972

The most up to date angling results are available at:

Les décomptes ont été complétés récemment sur les trois rivières :

York – 1,592 poissons comprenant 1,168 saumons et 424 madeleineaux

Dartmouth – 725 poissons comprenant 575 saumons et 150 madeleineaux

Saint-Jean – 972 poissons comprenant 672 saumons et 300 madeleineaux

Les statistiques de pêche les plus récentes sont disponibles au :

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Melançon Pool, Petite Cascapédia. Photo Christian Kirouac
Rivière Matane River

To July 27, 2020, 1,515 fish have migrated through the fishway (1,057 salmon and 458 grilse). The number of large salmon abundance is sufficient to enable a harvest as of August 1st.

The 2019 migration to July 28, indicated 1,250 fish (848 salmon and 402 grilse) counted through the fishway.

Compared to the same date for the season in 2018 when, 939 fish (622 salmon and 317 grilse) were counted.

To July 27, 2020, 278 fish have been reported landed which includes 159 salmon and 25 grilse released, 94 grilse harvested.

In 2019 to July 28, 296 fish have been landed including releases of 165 large salmon and 15 grilse.

Au 27 juillet, 1 515 poissons (1,057 saumons et 458 madeleineaux) furent dénombrés par le biais de la passe migratoire. Au 28 juillet 2019, 848 saumons et 402 madeleineaux avaient été dénombrés pour un total de 1,250.

En ce qui concerne les prises jusqu’au 27 juillet, la SOGERM annonce qu’un total de 278 poissons (159 saumons et 25 madeleineaux relâchés, 94 madeleineaux récoltés).

Au 28 juillet 2019, 296 prises furent déclarées (165 saumons et 15 madeleineaux relâchés, 74 madeleineaux récoltés).

Rivière Madeleine River

1,230 fish have migrated through the fishway to July 27th (703 salmon and 527 grilse)

Compared to the reported 585 fish to July 30th 2019 when 414 salmon and 171 grilse had been counted for a total of 585.

Cumulativement au 27 juillet 2020, 1 230 poissons ont migré par le biais de la passe migratoire, dont 703 grands saumons et 527 madeleineaux).

Au 30 juillet 2019, cumulativement, 585 poissons furent dénombrés, dont 414 grands saumons et 171 madeleineaux.

Rivière Matapédia River

Water levels are very low presently, consequently angling success has slowed down due to the present conditions. The in-river count is being undertaken to assess if enough abundance is present which would permit the harvest of large salmon has been completed. Results have not yet been released.

632 fish have been reported landed to July 26th for the season including 468 salmon released and 164 grilse harvested.

To July 29, 2019, 715 fish (477 salmon released, and 244 grilse harvested) had been reported landed.

To July 29, 2018, 677 fish (408 salmon released, and 269 grilse harvested) were reported landed.

Le succès de pêche a ralenti en raison des conditions d’eau chaude et faible débit. Le dénombrement en rivière est en cours pour évaluer si une abondance suffisante est présente pour permettre la récolte de grands saumons. Les résultats n’ont pas encore été partagés.

À ce jour, au 26 juillet, 632 prises cumulatives ont été déclarées, dont 468 saumons relâchés et 164 madeleineaux récoltés.

La saison dernière, cumulativement au 29 juillet, 715 prises furent déclarées (477 saumons relâchés et 244 madeleineaux récoltés).

Au 29 juillet 2018, 677 prises furent déclarées (408 saumons relâchés et 269 madeleineaux récoltés)

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Nicolas Bussière releases a Mitis River beauty. Photo Zec rivière Mitis
Rivière Mitis River

The number of fish migrating back to the Mitis this season continues to very encouraging.

As of July 28th 2020, a total of 1,228 fish have been transported upstream (643 salmon and 585 grilse).

Compared to July 30th 2019 when 357 large salmon and 344 grilse had been counted for a total of 701.

Also, to date for the 2020 season, 136 have been reported landed including 68 salmon released and 68 grilse reported harvested.

To July 30th 2019, 39 fish had been reported landed including 35 salmon released.

A 28 juillet 2020, les gestionnaires de la Mitis sont plus que satisfaits des résultats de montaison et la performance du nouveau piège de capture.

À date, 1,228 poissons furent transportés en aval du site de capture, dont 643 grands saumons et 585 madeleineaux. A pareille date en 2019, 701 poissons (357 saumons et 344 madeleineaux) furent dénombrés.

Au 27 juillet 2020, les résultats de pêche cumulatifs indiquent 136 prises (68 saumons furent relâchés et 68 madeleineaux récoltés. Comparativement au 31 juillet 2019 lorsque 75 prises furent déclarées comprenant 35 saumons relâchés et 40 madeleineaux récoltés.

Rivière de la Trinité River

As of July 28, 2020, 255 fish have been counted through the fishway comprised of 84 salmon and 171 grilse. 37 fish have been reported landed, 14 salmon and 3 grilse released, 20 grilse harvested.

To July 27, 2019, a total of 194 fish had been counted through the fishway (77 large salmon and 117 grilse). Regarding captures, 33 fish had been reported landed including the releases of 13 salmon and 1 grilse.

3,668 sea trout have also been counted to July 28th, compared to 1,381 at the same time in 2019.

Au 28 juillet 2020, 255 poissons avaient été dénombrés dans la passe migratoire composée de 84 saumons et 171 madeleineaux. 37 prises ont été déclarées jusqu’à ce jour, 14 saumons et 3 madeleineaux reclachés, 20 madeleineaux récoltés.

Au 27 juillet 2019, 194 poissons avaient été dénombrés par le biais de la passe migratoire (77 saumons et 117 madeleineaux). En ce qui concerne les captures, 33 prises furent déclarées dont 13 saumons relâchés et 1 madeleineau récolté).

3 668 truites de mer sont également dénombrées au 28 juillet, comparativement à 1 381 à pareille date en 2019.

Rivière Rimouski River

Records to July 27, 2020, indicate 325 fish (183 salmon and 142 grilse) have been transported above.

In 2019, the cumulative count at July 27 indicated 463 fish (243 salmon and 220 grilse).

To date in 2020, a total of 43 fish have been landed including 24 salmon released and 21 grilse harvested compared to a total of 96 fish landed (55 salmon released and 41 grilse harvested) in 2019.

Cumulativement au 27 juillet 2020, 325 poissons ont été comptés (183 saumons et 142 madeleineaux) ont été transportés en amont de la chute infranchissable.

En 2019 à pareille date, 463 poissons furent comptés comprenant 243 saumons et 220 madeleineaux.

Au 27 juillet 2020, les résultats de pêche cumulatifs indiquent que 43 prises ont été déclarées, soit 24 saumons relâchés et 21 madeleineaux récoltés. Comparativement au 27 juillet 2019 lorsque 96 prises furent déclarées comprenant 55 saumons relâchés et 41 madeleineaux récoltés.

Rivière Bonaventure River

The mid-season count was performed from July 27 to 29 and revealed 1,106 salmon and 429 grilse for a total of 1,535 fish. Also, 6 striped bass were observed in the system (Sectors B1, B3, B4). The mandatory release of large salmon will continue until the season end on September 30th.

The 2019 mid-season count revealed a total 1,195 fish comprised of 1,023 salmon and 172 grilse.

This season to July 25th, 698 fish have been reported landed by anglers including 465 salmon released and 233 grilse that were harvested. In 2019 on July 27th, to date, 645 fish had been reported landed including 521 salmon released and 124 grilse harvested.

Du 27 au 29 juillet, le décompte de mi-saison fut complété. 1,535 poissons ont été observés comprenant 1,106 saumons et 429 madeleineaux. Également, 6 Bars Rayé furent identifiés dans les secteurs B1, B3 et B4.

Le décompte mi-saison en 2019 a révélé la présence de 1,195 poissons dont 1,023 saumons et 172 madeleineaux.

Cumulativement au 25 juillet, les saumoniers de la Bonaventure ont déclaré 698 prises dont 465 saumons remis à l’eau et la récolte de 233 madeleineaux.

Au 27 juillet 2019, les saumoniers avaient déclaré 645 prises, dont 521 saumons remis à l’eau et 124 madeleineaux récoltés.


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Lockwood Dam at Waterville. Photo Emma Christman.
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At low water the rocks below the Lockwood Dam are searched for any trapped Atlantic salmon. Photo Emma Christman

Emma Christman of the Maine Headwaters Project says:

Last Wednesday, DMR asked me to fill in for (the other) Christman during the annual inspection and repair of boards at Lockwood dam in Waterville, when the water level is dropped as far as possible.

I worked with Jen Noll and Cassidy Bigos as well as Jay and a crew from Brookfield Renewable Partners, as well as a handful of people from Maine Inland Fish and Wildlife to locate stranded fish as they lowered the water in the ledges.

We only found one salmon, as well as a brown trout in the pools. The brown trout was released back into the river and the salmon was taken to the Sandy River that afternoon.

I believe this salmon was a 76cm male. He was scarred and had definitely spent time in the rock ledges. He did make it to the Sandy River and was released into better habitat.

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The Lockwood Dam on the Kennebec where it passes through Waterville is the first major barrier migratory fish encounter in the river system. Photo Emma Christman
Temple Stream

Maranda Nemeth, ASF’s Maine Headwaters Project Manager writes:

“Here is a recent photo of electrofishing the work site in Temple Stream watershed.

“We are preparing to replace a culvert on this cold-water tributary and staff from Maine’s Department of Marine Resources cleared the site prior to work beginning in the water.

“The two culvert replacements will improve passage for over six miles of stream and are part of the larger Temple Stream Project that includes the Walton’s Mill Dam Removal.”

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Electrofishing a tributary of Temple Stream.

Penobscot River

Jason Valliere, DMR Biologist notes:

“Salmon return estimate is up to 1,426.

“A total of 218 fish (187 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.”

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Colby Bruchs, Maine Department of Marine Resources biologist, says:

Due to low flows and high water temperature (~27C) we have lifted our trap and allowed returning salmon to swim freely into the river this week.

No new salmon were captured last week prior to temporarily suspending trapping.

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Cumulative adult Atlantic salmon catch by origin (bar) and proportion of naturally-reared returns (line), Cherryfield Dam fishway trap, Narraguagus River, Maine (1991-2020; to date).


Poaching and Lack of Enforcement a Major Issue in 2020

Anglers and river watchers continue to report numerous incidents of poaching and illegal fishing in salmon rivers, particularly in the Restigouche and Miramichi watersheds.

Poaching is a perennial problem that requires the attentiveness of conservationists to report, and robust provincial and federal enforcement to investigate and prosecute. Unfortunately, the resources brought to bear on this criminal activity is not what it was in the past.

Check out this article from August 1977, printed in New Brunswick’s Telegraph-Journal, where dozens of provincial and federal enforcement officers launched an anti-poaching blitz on the Magaguadavic and Digdeguash rivers in the southwest part of the province.

Stopping the poaching that is harming salmon populations today will require a combination of denunciation and deterrence. A strong show of force from federal and provincial officers in Eastern Canada would surely be welcomed by the conservation community.