ASF RiverNotes 10 Oct 2019


Oct 10, 2019

Nova Scotia

The West River Antigonish, like many Northumberland Strait rivers, comes alive with colour and salmon in October. Photo Matt Dort
When October hits, especially after a raise in water, salmon make a dash for the spawning beds high up the rivers of the Northumberland Strait.

Matt Dort says about present conditions:

River Phillip
has fish all throughout the river since they had a fair amount of rain prior to Hurricane Dorian and then received about 100+mm from the hurricane. Water levels have been dropping though and more rain is needed to keep the fish coming.

The Pictou County Rivers are extremely low. Salmon are showing in the tidal water but a significant amount of rain is needed to make the rivers fishable.

Antigonish County Rivers
face similar conditions although isolated showers over the past few weeks have given the rivers a little bump which triggered some fish to move.
The River Philip in Nova Scotia, not far from the New Brunswick border, could benefit from more rain in the next week or two. Photo Matt Dort
Sackville River

There have been 18 grilse and no large salmon to September 30, compared to 2018 returns to the same date of 6 grilse and 1 large salmon

LaHave River

There have been 142 grilse and 11 large salmon to Sept. 30, compared with 27 grilse and 53 large salmon in 2018. For comparison, the 1996-2000 five-year average was 599 grilse and 126 large salmon.

Chris Harris notes that the numbers of chain pickerel, an invasive species and fierce predator of juvenile Atlantic salmon, have been increasing in this system. Fishing near Cooks Bridge, he hooked EIGHT chain pickerel, all 14 to 19 inches in length, in six hours of fishing. Invasive species like pickerel threaten salmon recovery in the LaHave.
A beautiful autumn day on Sunday Run Pool, Northeast Margaree River, Nova Scotia. Photo Greg Lovely

Greg Lovely notes:

We could use a good rain here in the Margaree, to spread out the fishermen to other salmon rivers in the area (Cheticamp, Mabou, North, Middle and Baddeck to name a few), which at present are very low. Hurricane Dorian really burned our maples in the area and the Fall colours are a dud this year.

For some, the fishing is very slow, but for others (a local fisheries officer and friends),the salmon fishing has been fantastic.
A view from Doyles Bridge on the Margaree. Photo Greg Lovely


Kastine Coleman with a gorgeous fall Atlantic salmon about to be released on the Lower Humber. Photo from Kastine Coleman
Lower Humber

Kastine Coleman
says of the angling:

Terry Byrne and I fished Oct 4-7, 2019 on the lower Humber River in Newfoundland. We hooked and released 12 Atlantic salmon ranging in size from grilse to 35 pounds. There were noticeably fewer salmon in the river compared to last year at the same time.

All were hooked on wet fly. We found that fish were fairly inactive on the surface, and the winds were up most of the day making dry fly fishing difficult. Water was high to start but was falling by the end. Nice way to end the season... now we wait patiently for June 1st!

Kastine Coleman


The Exploits has been closed this fall.


Reports indicate relatively low numbers this year.

Prince Edward Island

Taylor Main says of the Prince Edward Island salmon scene:

Despite poor-ish conditions a few more anglers were able to put themselves on "the board" over the weekend. It seems like there are some grilse bouncing around with a few specimens willing to take flies. At the same time, I have yet to hear of a salmon having been taken this fall. If history repeats itself, the run of multi sea winter fish we are all waiting on are usually preceded by a grilse run.
A grilse angled Thursday of last week. Taylor Main photo
Light rain blanketed the island for most of last week. Unfortunately is was the type of rain that's just enough to ruin the fall harvest without doing the rivers any good. This week's forecast isn't looking a lot more promising.
Light rain falling on October 4. Taylor Main photo


Penobscot River

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

Fifteen more new fish have been captured at the Milford Lift in the past two weeks, and 2 more at Orono.

This brings the Milford Fishlift total up to 1,129 and Orono up to 41 for a total estimated trap return of 1170!

Maranda Nemeth joins ASF in Maine

The ASF (U.S.) program team is growing with the hiring of Maranda Nemeth. She will serve as the Maine Headwaters Program manager. Meet Maranda and learn about the skills she brings to the table by checking out the latest ASF blog
The Sheepscot River is showing its fall colours and beautiful crisp air. Photo Maranda Nemeth

New Brunswick

A river for the fall. The Cains on Oct. 5, 2019. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Nathan Wilbur, ASF Director of New Brunswick Programs, says:

We have had phenomenal water conditions this fall ever since Hurricane Dorian in early September. We got yet another soaking on Monday that will see us out for the season.

Angler reports have been mixed. If I were to boil it down, I'd say that fishing has been good for older fish that have been in the rivers for some time, but anglers aren't seeing many new fish coming in. That said, we should expect fish to be coming in because DFO trap net data, at least on the Miramichi, has shown a large portion of the run has come in after Sept 15 in recent years. So keep at it and enjoy the last few days of the season!"

As Nathan mentioned, DFO trapnets are showing more fishing coming in later to the Miramichi River system. Check out the data from Fisheries and Oceans Canada for the Cassilis Trapnet on the Northwest Miramichi, showing fish arriving before and after September 30. Note: trapnets capture a portion of the run and contribute to the estimate of overall returns. 

Northwest Miramichi salmon (>63 cm): https://inter-j01.dfo-mpo.gc.c...

Northwest Miramichi grilse (<63 cm): https://inter-j01.dfo-mpo.gc.c... 
Yes, there are many large Atlantic salmon in the Miramichi. Chris Leger with a recent release of a large male. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Renous River at the end of the season. A New Brunswick delight. Photo Brock Curtis.
Brock Curtis of Curtis Miramichi Outfitters says:

We had a good downpour here on the Miramichi watershed Monday. For some of the tributaries we needed a bump in the river levels as they were dropping. All of our rivers are rising at this time and it has changed the angling in some ways. It is funny how on the same river we will have anglers tell us they were seeing salmon and having success while someone else will come in shortly after, and talk about not having seen anything.

Conditions are quite good so the expectations at this time is more salmon should be moving upstream. We seem to have anglers having success the last two days on salmon patterns with blue in them.

Counting Fences and Trap Nets for the Miramichi

Southwest Miramichi

The Millerton Trap Net on the Southwest Miramichi is significantly ahead of last year for grilse, but behind for large salmon - 507 grilse and 157 large salmon to Sept. 30, compared with 399 grilse and 421 large salmon in 2018 to the same date.

More recent data, to Oct. 6 is available for the Dungarvon Barrier on the Dungarvon, a tributary of the Southwest Miramichi: 105 grilse and 84 large salmon, both ahead of last year's numbers of 92 grilse and 69 large salmon.

Northwest Miramichi

The Cassilis Trapnet to Sept. 30 had 300 grilse and 85 large salmon, compared with 2018 figures of 262 grilse and 224 large salmon

The Northwest Barrier to Oct. 6 had 146 grilse and 52 large salmon, compared with 2018 numbers of 104 grilse and 108 large salmon

Randy Giffin, age 93, casting on the Little Southwest Miramichi. Geoff Giffin/ASF
St. John River - Mactaquac

The Sept. 30 count is 503 grilse and 192 large salmon. While these remain critically low numbers for this great river, they are considerably better than the 2018 count of 413 grilse and 61 large salmon. The big dam at Mactaquac continues to be a barrier of major proportions to ocean migrating fish. The river was extremely productive prior to the dam installation in the late 1960s. Even the 1996-2000 five-year average was 3,747 grilse and 1,535 large salmon.


Like the mainstem St. John, the news is moderately good. To Sept. 30 there were 119 grilse and 41 large salmon. This compares to the 2018 numbers of 77 grilse and 23 large salmon.


The Magaguadavic River in southwest New Brunswick has had 2 wild salmon returning this year. Unfortunately a Cooke salmon farm escape event near Deer Island has resulted in 76 escapees making their way to the Magaguadavic. It is not known how many might have entered the Dennys River in Cobscook Bay on the Maine side of the border, or other small rivers along NB's Bay of Fundy coast.

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