ASF RiverNotes 19 July 2019

Jul 19, 2019
The great moment of releasing a large Atlantic salmon to continue its migration upstream, in the Petite Cascapedia River, on 12 July 2019. Dan Greenberg

A Celebration for the Penobscot at 1,100!


As of July 15 the Penobscot Atlantic salmon run reached another milestone - exactly 1,100 Atlantic salmon passing the barriers at Milford and Orono. This is the highest return for the Penobscot since 2011, and hopefully some of these fish will be making their way up secondary branches such as the Mattawamkeag and the Piscataquis to spawn successfully in their natural habitat.

The 1,100 is made up of 803 large salmon and 256 grilse, totalling 1,059, at the Milford Fish Lift, plus 36 large salmon and five grilse at the Orono barrier. So to date that means 839 large salmon and 261 grilse, totalling 1,100. USFW removes several hundred for breeding, but salmon migrating for the last few weeks have had the opportunity to complete their natural life cycle.

Jason Valliere, DMR Biologis
t says:

The river is getting warm! We are seeing water temperatures in the high 70’s. Salmon are still passing through Milford but things have slowed down. At these temperatures we do not handle fish at Milford to reduce stress on them as they are already thermally stressed. The fishway continues to operate but the gates are left open so fish can swim freely into the headpond. In this situation we depend on video count for enumeration.

When temperatures allow we typically:

• Take a length measurement.
• Determine sex. Identifying whether a fish is Male, Female, Grilse will give us an idea of spawning potential of fish in the river and the number of redds we expect to see in the upper drainage as a double check to out trap counts.
• Assess the condition of the fish and Identify any Injuries the fish has.
• Collect a scale sample. A scale sample allows us to determine the age and origin “hatchery or naturally reared”.
• Collect a genetic sample. This allows us to determine whether the fish is of Penobscot Strain or if it is from another river. On rare occasions we get Canadian and even European fish. This also serves as a temporary mark allowing us to quickly determine when we capture a fish if we have handled that fish already this year and prevent double counting fish.
We insert a PIT tag in the fish. This acts as a permanent ID allowing us to track that fish as it moves up through the hydro facilities giving us information of what upper drainage that fish returns to and allows us to identify that fish if it is recaptured in subsequent years.

Since fish are now passing the fishway unhandled and unmarked there will be some fluctuation in our estimate as data becomes available. Currently every fish is being counted as “NEW”. We will later review PIT tag data to identify any fish that was previously handled which will reduce the count some in the future as we determine some of the fish we originally called “NEW” were not. This will still likely result in a slightly inflated estimate as fish that pass through unhandled and unmarked may then pass through again will be double counted as “NEW” again.

It would be a positive change if in Atlantic Canada DFO provided notes on counting fence information, including dates of installation, non-operational periods, and unusual circumstances and fish through the counting season.
This is the count of Atlantic salmon at the Milford Fish Lift as of July 14, 2019. There were other Atlantic salmon at the Orono barrier as well.
Placing parr-sheltering debris strategically in a branch of the Sheepscot River on July 15, 2019. Maranda Nameth
Sheepscot River

Maranda Nameth

ASF's John Burrows and I were out this past Monday on the Sheepscot with partners assisting on installing large woody debris for parr habitat improvements. Implementing the PALS
method (Post Assisted Log Structure), a method more common out in the Pacific Northwest. Large wood in Maine rivers is seriously lacking due to the legacy of riparian harvest and log drives over the years. Until trees within our riparian forest grow to a sufficient size and age, we need restoration actions to be taken to restore this critical component.

Partners are implementing this approach on the Sheepscot and Narraguagus River. While undertaking this habitat alteration here in Maine is still just a few years in, studies have shown an increase in parr abundance around the treated reach from 3.2 parr/unit to 8 - 10/parr unit.

Funding is from the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCS). Maine DMR is the lead partner for this project on the Sheepscot, with support from USFWS. Project SHARE crew is leading installation logistics. ASF, Midcoast Conservancy, and TNC are assisting with installation workdays.
Overview of the site for Post Assisted Log Structure (PALS) mediation on a Sheepscot tributary. Maranda Nemeth.
Kennebec River

To July 15 there were 45 large salmon and 4 grilse at the Lockwood Dam in Waterville, now the first dam barrier on the Kennebec River.


With modern net materials, including "slippery netting" and sometimes rubber-coating, nets are seen as less harmful than human handling of Atlantic salmon. Salmon being brought in for release on the Petite Cascapedia River on July 12, 2019. Dan Greenberg
Charles Cusson, ASF's Director of Quebec Programs, writes:

Water levels in a few areas received a bit of a boost recently, and it helped some fresh fish rush in. Rivers affected included the Matane.

But with river levels dropping, and temperatures rising, it will be important to have rains falling on a consistent basis going forward through the remainder of the summer and autumn.

There have been reports from some rivers that grilse returns are low this year. We will monitor what develops through the rest of the year.

SPECIAL REMINDER FOR ANGLERS ON QUEBEC RIVERS: take the time to report your releases to have the most accurate angling statistics and for the river managers to accurately calculate angling success.

It is also important for the Atlantic salmon in increasingly warm waters to reduce the time your fish is on the line to a minimum. Also, please keep the salmon in the water during the entire release process.

Data used in the Quebec river notes are sourced from various river websites, social media and Quebec government sources.
Angler Vincent Rousseau releases a salmon at the Rets Pool on the Sainte Anne River. Photo Alexandre Dionne
York, Dartmouth and St-Jean Rivers

These Gaspé rivers and others in the area such as the Grande-Rivière and the Pabos have benefited of a bump in water conditions a few days ago, Don Bourgouin of GreyGhost Destinations stated “combined with the higher tides around the full moon, angling action has picked up”.

The most up-to-date results are available at:

York River:

Dartmouth River

Saint Jean River


Another season has come and gone as of July 15th on the Causapscal.

Since the opening on May 15th, anglers landed 180 salmon of which 70 were released. This statistic is very similar to last year’s season ending numbers, 166 salmon landed including 63 salmon released.
Michael Cherry with a leaping Atlantic salmon on the Dartmouth River. Photo Quebec Sporting
Matapedia River

The CGRMP is reporting 3,231 rod days sold to July 15th, compared to 2,890 at the same date in 2018.

Angling success continues to be encouraging with many larger, 20+ lb,  fish being landed and released. For 2019 to date, 499 fish have been landed (359 released and 140 grilse harvested). These figures are up from last year to date when 293 salmon released and 156 grilse had been reported landed.

Matane River

The 2019 season to date has been re-writing the record books for this lower St-Lawrence river. On July 8, a salmon measuring 130 cms (51 inches) broke the mark of 122 cms (48 inches).

July 15th set a new record of 248 fish (162 salmon and 86 grilse) being counted through the fishway on a single day. The previous record of 245 fish was set on August 9, 2003.

Also, to July 15th, 678 salmon and 219 grilse have been counted for total of 897. To July 17, 2018, 589 salmon and 222 grilse had been counted for the season.

Bonaventure River

As of mid-week, water flow meter indicates 18 cubic meters per second creating perfect angling conditions for the time being.

To July 13, 2019, 142 fish (108 salmon released and 34 grilse) have been reported landed.
Releasing an Atlantic salmon at Meg's Pool, on the Salmon Branch, Cascapedia River on 13 July, 2019. Photo Dan Greenberg
Cascapedia River

Darlene Sexton is reporting a very good month of June 2019 with numbers ahead of the two previous seasons.

At June 30, 2019, 618 fish had been landed and released (608 salmon and 10 grilse).
At June 30, 2018, 547 fish landed and released (532 salmon and 15 grilse).
At June 30, 2017, 611 fish landed and released (607 salmon and 4 grilse).

Aux Rochers River

The late arrival of the salmon is still being reflected this season. To July 15, 125 fish have entered the counting trap, still below that last 5-year average. At the same date in 2018, 95 salmon and 24 grilse had entered the trap for a total of 101 fish.

New Brunswick

The Becaguimec Stream that enters the St. John River at Hartland was at one time a very productive Atlantic salmon stream. As numbers of salmon returning to the Mactaquac Dam area have dropped, and migration through the Mactaquac Dam Headpond has become difficult, it may take a major effort to return it to health. Geoff Giffin/ASF
St. John River

To July 15 the number of large salmon returning to Mactaquac has been 378, and grilse 164, making a total of 542. In 2018 to the same date, there were 211 large salmon and 50 grilse, totalling 261. It is nice to see a doubling in the number of Atlantic salmon, but these numbers remain low compared to historic returns.


Returns have also improved in the Nashwaak River, that enters the main St. John at Fredericton.

To July 15 there were 64 large salmon and 21 grilse, totalling 71, far better than the 2019 return of 21 large salmon and 7 grilse (total 28) to the same date in 2018.



See details of pool closures, and further links here:

Brock Curtis
of Curtis Miramichi Outfitters in Blackville says:

Heavy thunder showers and a couple of hot days seemed to slow things down this week. Prior to last Saturday a lot of salmon were being caught. We continue to hear of salmon being seen all along the river.

River levels and temperatures are holding well for this time of year. There is still the odd salmon being caught but not like last week. As the old saying goes, "you should have been here last week".

Trapnet Counts

Overall, both the Cassilis Trapnet (Northwest Miramichi) and the Millerton Trapnet (Southwest Miramichi) are showing improved numbers in 2019, to July 15.

has 139 grilse and 26 large salmon, compared with 107 grilse and 32 large salmon in 2018.

Millerton Trapnet
on the Southwest Miramichi has 273 grilse and 74 large salmon compared with 128 grilse and 71 large salmon to the same July 15 date in 2018

Upstream, the Barrier Counts for July 14 are out:

Northwest Miramichi Barrier has had 69 grilse and 31 large salmon in 2019, compared with 41 grilse and 85 large salmon to the same date in 2018.

Dungarvon Barrier, on a tributary of the Southwest Miramichi, has had 45 grilse and 46 large  salmon, compared with 26 grilse and 38 large salmon to the same date in 2018.

Jacquet River

In the north of New Brunswick, the Jacquet River barrier has had 6 grilse and 8 large salmon to July 14, compared with 9 grilse and 2 large salmon to the same date in 2018.

Nova Scotia

Mitchell’s Pool on the St. Mary’s River is deep and cold, prime habitat for wild Atlantic salmon. Neville Crabbe/ASF
Neville Crabbe, ASF Director of Communications, writes from northern Nova Scotia:

There’s a grassroots campaign underway in northeastern Nova Scotia’s St. Mary’s River valley to stop a proposed gold mine development on Cochrane Hill. ASF is standing with the Nova Scotia Salmon Association and the St. Mary’s River Association in opposition to the proposal which would result in an open pit mine and tailings impoundment a few hundred meters from the river. This week a meeting was held at the salmon museum outside the town of Sherbrooke to coordinate and strategize. There were dozens of people in attendance representing local residents, summer visitors to the area, the St. Mary’s River Association, and groups like ASF and the Ecology Action Centre.

The St. Mary’s is closed to salmon angling, but still supports runs of perhaps 1,000 returning adults in some years. In past decades it was equal to the Margaree River as a destination for anglers around the world, including famously Babe Ruth who frequented the Ford Pool close to the estuary. The watershed is intact with no major barriers to fish passage or invasive species like smallmouth bass and chain pickerel. The local river association has invested more than $1-million in habitat restoration in recent years and recently received a federal grant of $1.2 million to carry on the work.

As everyone in the room yesterday agreed St. Mary’s silver is worth more than gold and with the good work of the St. Mary’s River Association, recovery is a real possibility.
Dozens of people filled the St. Mary’s River Association’s salmon museum outside of Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia on July 17th to coordinate efforts in opposition to a proposed open-pit gold mine development at nearby Cochrane Hill. Neville Crabbe/ASF


Greg Lovely

The Margaree River could use a bit more water to move those salmon held down river up the river so salmon and fishermen can once again spread out. Salmon are still being hooked daily and by all accounts this has been a pretty good year so far.

Further progress has been made on Cranton Bridge, and the estimated time of replacement is now 2 more months.
The Cranton Bridge demolition continues, with replacement a few months ahead. Photo Brittany Polley
Peter Poirier examines a digger log on Lake-o-Law Brook, a Margaree tributary stream. Photo Brittany Polley

The Morgan Falls Fishway July 15 count has been posted, with 133 grilse and 11 large salmon. This is a definite improvement over the 20 grilse and 53 large salmon to the same date in 2018

The return numbers to the LaHave River appear to be quite volative from year to year, but we will take any upswing we can get!

Sackville River

Another positive year, although still at very low return numbers. To July 15 there were 16 grilse and no large salmon, compared with the 2018 return to the same date of 3 grilse and 1 large salmon.
Kris Hunter, ASF Director of Programs for NS and PEI wrote:

Early this week I also had the privilege of going out with Nick MacInnis of the NSLC Adopt-A-Stream Program and Mary Finch of the PEI Watershed Alliance. Together we toured sites in the Pomquet River, the South River, and MacQuarrie’s Brook on the West Branch of the St. Mary’s River that had in-stream restoration and fish passage remediations applied. The mini tour was a good opportunity to discuss the strengths, weakness, and lessons learned with different restoration techniques, and to further the partnership and collaboration potential between ASF, NSLC Adopt-A-Stream Program and PEI Watershed Alliance.
Mary Finch of PEI Watershed Alliance and Nick MacInnes of NSSA Adopt-a-Stream Program discuss restoration techniques along the Pomquet River. Kris Hunter/ASF

Prince Edward Island

Kris Hunter, ASF Director of Programs for PEI and NS writes:

Earlier in July I had a chance to visit Dale Cameron of the West Prince Chapter of Trout Unlimited and see how some of their ASF supported restoration work has progressed since its completion last fall. The 3-year project supported by funding received by ASF as a result of a fine. The fine was from a fish kill focused on creating a riparian zone in the headwaters of Trout River and the installation of cobble on a section of hardpan to develop salmon rearing and spawning habitat. Both aspects of the project looked fantastic one year on from the completion of the project. Dale was very happy with the results of the project, especially the headwaters riparian zone establishment noting that “before we started the area in the Trout River Headwaters, this was pasture land for years and it was pretty barren, essentially all grass to the water’s edge”.

Survival of the native trees and bushes that were planted held up well with 80% or better survival. Although the riparian zone is still quite young it is “a lot better than it was” and is a good start on establishing the all-important healthy riparian zone.

PEI West Prince Trout Chapter of TU, Trout River riparian restoration one year along. Kris Hunter/ASF

Newfoundland and Labrador

Torrent River tally on July 17 - as shown on the board at the Torrent River Interpretive Centre. Photo Ralph Hiscock
Don Ivany, Director of ASF Programs for Newfoundland and Labrador says:

The latest DFO fishway counts for NL were posted on July 14 and unfortunately the numbers are not looking good.

Except for just a few rivers, the latest counts are down from the same time period in 2018 on most of the other monitored rivers. The first counts from Labrador Rivers are now in and indicate that returns are down on those rivers as well.

DFO Counts at:

To make matters worse, DFO is in the process of conducting an in-season review, and based on the latest statistics available, it is anticipated that there will likely be additional restrictions on harvest levels implemented.

Warm weather conditions during the past week or so has also lead to a rise in water temperatures on many rivers throughout the province with some now hovering around 18-20 degrees Celsius. If these conditions persist it is likely that we could see warm water temperature protocols for both catch and release angling and retention angling implemented. Anglers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these environmental protocols which are listed in the DFO Anglers Guide for NL at:

Anglers should also closely monitor all DFO public notices as well as the DFO Angling Line (709-772-4423) for announcements regarding river closures and openings, including other recreational fishing information.
Boom Siding on the Lower Humber River is just now starting to hold a few fish but as of July 18, the water level is still a little high. Don Ivany/ASF
Specific Region Reports

Southern Labrador –
Lester Butt, a well known and long-time guide on the Forteau and Pinware Rivers reports that fishing is fairly slow on the Forteau River at the moment, and currently there is not a lot of fish in the river for this time of year. Water levels on the Forteau are currently a little on the low side, but he reports water temperatures are still cold. A few grilse and an odd large fish are being hooked on the river, but overall things are fairly slow. Lester reports that the Pinware River appears to be doing a little better and there is still a mix of grilse and large fish being hooked on the river currently. But over all fishing is also a little slow on this river.

First DFO fishway counts are in for Muddy Bay Brook up to July 14 which indicate 21 fish have been counted versus 19 in 2018. On Paradise River 2 fish have been counted compared to 43 in 2018.

Dwight Lethbridge – of Pratt Falls Lodge
posted the following update about the Eagle River on his web-site on July 12:

We are saying 'see you later' to our second group of anglers today and they had a wonderful trip! They kept a tally for friendly competition and with 59 fish landed amongst the group for the week, we think that is very good. Considering that the river is still high and about 60% are large fish they did a great job of handling these fish. There would have been a lot of hook ups that didn't make it to a release.

The weather, with the exception of one day was very tough. Very cold for July with evening temps dipping to 3-4 degrees C! Water temp also very cold in the low 50s F, around 11-12 degrees C. Great for the fish but hard on anglers.

The water, despite a fair bit of rain has continued to fall. It did bump up slightly for a day but has started to drop again and is now at 3.1m. Getting closer and closer to a great fishing level. The forecast calls for 40-60 percent chance of showers over the next few days. Hopefully that remains as a chance and the water stays in the clouds. Stay tuned!
Corner Brook angler Ryan Gould try’s his luck using a two handed spey rod at Quarry Pool on the Lower Humber River on July 18, 2019. Don Ivany/ASF
Don Ivany continues:

Northern Peninsula
– anglers are still reporting a good sign of fish and decent angling on many rivers in this area including Main River (Salmon Brook), Castor River, and Torrent River among others. Water levels and water temperatures on these rivers are still quite good.

Ralph Hiscock added:

I fished four times on the Torrent but hooked only one. Few being seen and few taken. But the Torrent River Fishway is doing well. As of July 18, there have been 762 go through the salmon ladder which is a huge increase from last year when only 179 had passed through by the same date.

Don Ivany
 continus with:

Western Newfoundland
Anglers have been reporting that the fishing has been good on the Upper Humber River at Big Falls and Little Falls up to the week-end of July 13-14 with a good mix of grilse and large fish being hooked daily. Up to that time water levels and temperatures were also good.

Water levels are still good on the Upper Humber but water temperatures have been rising and are currently hovering around 18-20, and fishing as slowed as a result. Angler Chris Borden reports that fish are now starting to hold on the Lower Humber near Boom Siding, which is normal for this time of year, and fishing is pretty good. He reports hooking a couple of fish each evening after work during there during the past week. It is also worth noting that a few fish are starting to show up on Corner Brook Stream, which is normal for this time of year, but the fishway counts indicate numbers are down in 2019 compared to 2018. Up to July 14 only eight fish have been counted compared to 15 in 2018.
Brady Parsons releases a nice grilse in the middle of The Humber on July 9, 2019. Grandfather Jeff Wells helps. Ralph Hiscock adds: "Fishing was great until Friday. The river levels are good and pools are forming. Still a good many fish seen but few being hooked.Maybe because of warmer water." Photo Ralph Hiscock
Southwestern NL – For the past week or so, most Bay St. George Rivers have been experiencing low water levels and warm water temperatures , which have resulted in fairly slow fishing. However, water levels have improved slightly in the last couple of days but warm water temperatures are now becoming an issue for good angling. That said there are still a few fishing moving in those rivers according to anglers.

Central Newfoundland
– based on fishway counts up to July 14, 2019, returns are down significantly on the Exploits River this year at 3,841 fish versus 8,932 in 2018.

Local anglers report that fishing has been very slow despite ideal angling conditions, and what should be peak run times. That said, there were a few more fish seen and hooked on the weekend of July 13-14.

Likewise, counts are down significantly on Campbellton river at 1,332 fish versus 2,332 fish in 2018. Returns are also down on Salmon Brook (a tributary of the Gander River at 432 fish versus 616 in 2018.

Well known angler Tolson Parsons reports that to date fishing has been very slow this year on the Gander compared to other years. Water has been very high and is just now starting to approach good fishing levels. Former SAEN board member Ken McClean shares Tolson’s views about the Gander, and also indicates fishing has been very slow on the Terra Nova River to date as well, mainly due to high water. However, returns are up on the Terra Nova this year at 1506 fish versus 1365 for 2018.

Southern Newfoundland
– Low water and warm temperatures on the Garnish River has resulted in fairly slow fishing but in the last day or so water levels have increased, and temperatures have dropped, producing more favourable angling conditions.

Water levels on Grey River and the Conne River have been low and warm for the past week or so. Returns to Conne River continue to be very low and as such the river remains closed to angling.

Avalon Peninsula
- For the past week water levels on Salmonier River were low, but cool. However, in the past couple of days water levels have increased, but so has the water temperature, and so angling remains fairly slow.

The Final Word

Corner Brook Stream, a salmon restoration story, and a story of a salmon migration through an urban environment. Don Ivany/ASF
We all need examples of success stories in Atlantic salmon restoration. Corner Brook Stream is one such story. 

It had no Atlantic salmon at one point. Then clearing of debris, a new fishway, and in this case the addition for years of fry from ASF Fish Friends programs in western Newfoundland has brought this salmon stream back to life. 

The point is that Atlantic salmon can be restored in rivers that pass through urban areas. Atlantic salmon populations can be brought back to the point where they can thrive. There are many examples in Europe and there are examples in North America.

We need to persevere in these efforts.
Corner Brook Stream with the Sir Richard Squires Building in the background. Don Ivany/ASF

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