ASF RiverNotes 2 Aug 2019

Aug 2, 2019
SPECIAL NOTE: ASF RiverNotes will take a break next week, but return the week after next.

Learning about Atlantic salmon and its rivers

Zach Legrée and Perry Coull, Cascapedia guides, remove a scale to be sent on to ASF researchers, while they prepare an Atlantic salmon for release at Old Tracadie Pool. Photo Ben Carmichael

A scale can be seen as a miracle. Like some memory card from the pre-digital age, it provides detailed information on an individual Atlantic salmon's growth, can be the source of DNA to determine the very section of stream it was born in, and tell us whether it has spawned once, twice or more.

That is one kind of learning about Atlantic salmon.

But further down in this RiverNotes, Nathan Wilbur details a brilliant move for students passionate about Atlantic salmon from Perth, Scotland travelling to meet, exchange ideas and learn from students living on the banks of the East Machias River in Maine, and students from the Miramichi in New Brunswick. This is an important idea to remember - sharing ideas and experiences deepens them, and can lead to further interest.

A third kind of learning is that of Antoine Etchecopar releasing an Atlantic salmon he will never forget on the Mitis River.

We need to find as many ways as possible to learn more about Atlantic salmon, and new contexts in which to do it. The future of the charismatic species depends on it.
Antoine Etchecopar releases an Atlantic salmon on the Mitis River in Pool #3. Photo Mathieu Etchecopar


Charles Cusson, ASF Director of Programs for Quebec

As of Aug. 1 water levels are still extremely low and water temperatures on the high side on most rivers. But a glimmer of hope is falling from the sky with more rain likely during the next week. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

This is the time of year when in-river counts are being performed to ascertain abundance which could possibly permit harvesting of large salmon on certain rivers. Besides information about rivers in the report below, a harvest of large salmon will be permitted on the Big Mecatina, Napetipi, Saint-Paul and Old Fort rivers.

Reminder to anglers fishing 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.

Important Live Release Fact: With warmer water conditions being the norm, please keep the amount of time your fish is on the line to a minimum (if you can hook up) and please keep them in the water during the entire release process. There is no pre-set amount of time for releasing a fish The salmon itself will tell you when it’s ready to go.

Data used in the Quebec river notes:
It is gathered from various river websites, social media and Quebec government sources. Information can change without prior notification regarding prior year comparative figures.
Jonas Clark releases a silvery Atlantic salmon on the Cascapedia River on July 9, 2019. Photo Ben Carmichael
York, Dartmouth and 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.

Results as of July 30 are available at:
Matane MFFP conservation offices visit with their mobile interpretive unit. Charles Cusson/ASF
Matane River

Correction to last week’s report:
Thanks to avid reader of our river notes, Mr. Serge Paradis of Ste-René de Matane, the number of salmon counted as of July 22 2019 should have read 823 and not 832. The comparative figures stated were to July 21, 2018 which had not been stated.

The 2019 migration to July 28, indicates 1,250 fish (848 salmon and 402 grilse) counted through the fishway. The number of large salmon abundance is sufficient to enable a harvest as of August 1.

To the same date in 2018 there were 939 fish (622 salmon and 317 grilse) counted.

In 2019 to July 28, 296 fish have been landed including releases of 165 large salmon and 15 grilse.
Matane release by Éric Landry looking upstream in the Coulée des seaux Pool. Photo Éric Landry
Madeleine River

July 30 water temperature 18 C.

The Madeleine Zec is reporting 585 fish migrated through the fishway to July 30 (414 salmon and 171 grilse).

There were 566 fish counted at the same date in 2018, 305 large salmon and 261 grilse.

Matapedia River

To July 29, 2019, 4,051 Rod Days sold compared to 3,823 to date in 2018. An obvious enthusiasm for the potential of the Matapedia River.

Recently, the in-river float through count was done, and 1,300 large salmon were counted which is insufficient to enable a harvest of large salmon. Live release of large salmon will continue for the rest of the season.

Water levels are very low presently,  with the Matapedia flowing at 14 cubic meters per second. Angling success has slowed due to the present conditions.

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

To July 29, 2018, 677 fish (408 salmon released, and 269 grilse harvested) were reported landed.
Dave Cole releases an Atlantic salmon on the Cascapedia River earlier in July. Photo Ben Carmichael
Mitis River

Fish passage problems persist at the Hydro Quebec dam near the community of Price where the fish trap is situated. As a result, there are fewer fish in the river than would be normal by this time in the season.

To July 30, 357 large salmon and 344 grilse have been counted for a total of 701.

In addition, 39 fish have been reported landed as of July 30 including 35 large salmon released.

Nabisipi River – Pourvoirie Nabisipi UenapeuHipu

As a follow-up to last week’s report from the Nabisipi, Eric Walsh is reporting his customers have landed and released 140 fish over 152 days of fishing to date this season, despite the late arrival of the salmon.

De la Trinité River

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

Sea trout are also being counted with 1,381 having migrated through.

In 2018, as of July 28 a total of 210 fish had been counted (75 salmon and 135 grilse).
Rivière du Gouffre. Photo MFFP
Du Gouffre River

Season opened on June 1

The du Gouffre river is situated approximately 100 kilometers north of Québec city, in the Charlevoix region. It is 72 kms long and flows into St-Lawrence river in Baie St-Paul. 

To July 27, 2019, 99 fish (61 salmon and 38 grilse) have been released. For 2018 at July 26 a total of 49 fish were reported landed and released.

As noted last week, as of the 2019 season, this river now has an electronic sonar counting unit. The data stemming from this addition will make management decisions based on fact.


Two Atlantic salmon making a "leap for salmon-kind" last week on the Hawke River. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Overall the Atlantic salmon conditions seem good at the moment in Labrador.

Hawke River

Nathan Wilbur
, ASF's Director of NB Programs happened to be on the Hawke River last week:

Guides from the Hawke River reported excellent fishing the first few weeks of July. The grilse run was a little late but when they came….they came well. Guides also said it’s been the best year for large salmon numbers they’ve had in years. The fish are now trying to jump the falls on this rugged Labrador river on their way to the many spawning tributaries of the system. Water levels this year have been very good compared to last year’s extremely high water.

Eagle River

Dwight Lethbridge
, of Pratt Falls Lodge on the Eagle says on his river report:

The fishing has slowed as compared to last week which we figure was likely the peak for this season. The tides were slack and are now building again. We hear reports of plenty of salmon still on the coast which no doubt are making there way to us for weeks to come yet.

The river has quite good conditions..but a slight rise in water level could have a negative effect on success this week. The forecast calls for periods of rain and chances of showers all week. We really hope it isn't enough to bring the water up. It has just been reaching a good fishing level, and we could still do with a couple feet less. Right now the river is at 2.4m. Temperature wise, last week's hot days brought the water temp up to around 18-19c mid day. The air temperatures have cooled again and so has the water, now sitting at 16-17c.

Counting Fences

Counts are available to July 28. The English River has 11, very close to last year's 12. The Sand Hill continues to be low, with 994 to date, vs. 3,250 in 2018.

Muddy Bay Brook is continuing to lag, with 128 to July 28, compared with 198 in 2018. Paradise River also lags, with 47, compared with 203 last year.
Hawke River in Labrador on 27 July 2019. Nathan Wilbur/ASF


Beautiful day for Atlantic salmon angling on the Castor River, earlier in July this year. Don Ivany/ASF
Newfoundland DFO Counts to July 28

Aug. 1, 2019

Salmon Rivers Closing in Zone 10

DFO advises anglers that due to extremely high water temperatures and/or low water levels, the following rivers will be restricted to morning angling only effective one hour after sunset on Thursday August 1, 2019.

During this period, angling is permitted from one hour before sunrise to 10:00 am each day, and will be closed to angling from 10:01 am to one hour before sunrise on the following day.

The rivers will reopen as conditions improve. Please refer to page 16 of the 2019 Angler's Guide for further information on the 2019 environmental protocol.

Zone 10

96 Nonsuch Brook

97 Cape Rodger River

98 Bay de l'Eau River

99 Red Harbour River, Northeast & Northwest branches & tributary streams

100 West Brook, North West Arm, Mortier Bay & tributary streams

101 Tide's Brook, Mortier Bay, including Main Brook, Shearstick Brook & tributary streams

102 Salmonier River, Burin

103 Little St. Lawrence River & tributary streams

104 Lawn River & tributary streams

For more information please visit the In Season River Status Report at or call the Angling Line at 709-772-4423.

The Regional Director General, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador Regions gives notice that Variation Orders 2019-073, 2019-074, 2019-075, 2019-076 and 2019-077 have been revoked and Variation Orders 2019-186, 2019-187, 2019-188, 2019-189 and 2019-190 come into effect at 1800 hours on August 1, 2019.

Counting Fence Data

DFO has released the counting fence data to July 28, and there should be a sense of concern about the pattern it is showing.

Of the 14 rivers with data for 2018 and 2019, 8 are lagging significantly behind 2018, while three have counts similar to 2018, and three are better than 2018.

The Exploits remains one of the rivers of special concern, with 9,982 to July 28, compared with 15,141 in 2018. That is a 34 per cent decline over last year, and approximately a 50% decline from the most recent five-year average. At its best, the Exploits was perhaps the most productive salmon river in North America - but not in 2019.

Having Campbellton River and Salmon Brook on par with 2018 and five-year average numbers is nice, and having Terra Nova River high at 3,958 vs 2,864 in 2018 is good to see. And especially nice is to see the rebound of Rocky River after the fishway rebuild fiasco of a few years ago, with 457 this year, compared to 276 last year, and 179 for the five-year average.

The South Coast index river, the Conne remain s dismal at 391 compared with 562 last year and 1,176 for most recent five-year averageThe South Coast rivers have been impacted by cross-breeding with aquaculture salmon, that peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown to be bad for progeny - and worse for the second generation of progeny.

On the West Coast, Harry's River has been holding its own, with 2,603 salmon, compared with 2,773 last year, although down a bit from the 3,552 five-year average. 

Good to see the 46 salmon so far in Corner Brook Stream

The Torrent appears to have dropped back with 2,373 listed as of July 28, compared with 2,937 in 2018 and the 2,944 for most recent five-year average. The river can be a touch unpredictable on the migration period, so it could catch up yet.

But what is going on with Western Arm Brook? Only 177 are reported, compared with 1,173 last year and 1,156 for the five-year average. 

Overall, the numbers really should be concern.

A few photos have shown up on Facebook sites of poachers' nets, so there is definitely a role for anglers in keeping an eye open for signs of poaching. From public comment in media, there are fewer poaching-related cases apparently being brought to court these days.

Poaching nets discovered by anglers on a Newfoundland river this year.


Demolition underway at Head Tide Dam in Alna, Maine on the Sheepscot River on July 31, 2019. SumCo is the lead contractor, seen here demolishing the concrete abutment. All concrete will be removed and the ledge of the river bottom will be modified to tie in the opening to the channel. Photo Maranda Nemeth

As shown in the photo above, the demolition work is proceeding efficiently, and the streambed will be adjusted to be appropriate to the flow of the river. 


Returns are available to July 29: 833 large salmon and 277 grilse at the Milford Fish Lift, making 1,110 together. Plus 36 large salmon and 5 grilse at Orono, totalling 41. Thus the total for the Penobscot to July 29 is 1,151 Atlantic salmon. Obviously the run is tapering off, but some are still going through.


To July 29 there have been 47 large salmon and 5 grilse, totalling 52. Note that a story appeared this week in the Bangor Daily News on "Charlie". This salmon has returned from distant feeding grounds twice - first in 2017, and then again in 2019 Maine DMR even has a photo of this salmon, swimming around in a pool the salmon swam around in two years ago on its first return.
"Charlie" swimming in a pool in the Kennebec River after a return from distant ocean feeding grounds. Photo Casey Clarke, Maine Department of Marine Resources
The story about Charlie's journeys from and to the Kennebec River can be read here

Narraguagus River

The numbers at the Cherryfield Dam are 10 large salmon and 56 grilse to July 28. It is thought that many more large salmon went over the dam itself rather than using the fishway. Redd counts in the autumn should give a better picture of the returns.

New Brunswick

A river is cultural as well as ecological in nature. For students gathered from the banks of the Tay in Scotland, the East Machias in Maine and the Miramichi in New Brunswick, it is getting to know how each other thinks - about salmon, about the river, and about life. There is no better way to learn an international appreciation of Atlantic salmon. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Miramichi Closures - NOW includes morning fishing only, from 6 am to 11 am.

With the hot days being experienced  this week, the closures came into effect July 30.

To this was added, effective Aug. 1, morning fishing only on the Miramichi, from 6 am. to 11 am.

Nepisiguit Closures

For the first time, Warm Water Protocols are being applied to the Nepisiguit River in northern New Brunswick, effective July 30.

Miramichi Salmon Update:

Brock Curtis, of Curtis Miramichi Outfitters says:

Cooler temperatures last week resulted in fairly good fishing for a few days until the heat wave hit over the weekend. Things have slowed down since then.

We were still hearing from anglers coming into the tackle shop yesterday of the odd salmon being caught.

DFO closed 27 pools throughout the watershed due to warm water. However, the forecast is showing a change Thursday and things are supposed to cool down after that. Not the greatest weather for angling but great for canoeing, tubing, swimming, etc. Anglers are anxious to see the cold front move in on Thursday. Hopefully in a few days things will be back to normal.

For those who are on or around the river they will notice an interesting change as the geese are going through. This is a period in which they are molting and lots of small feathers are floating down the river. In fact in one eddy I noticed it was like foam on the water with so many feathers.

Rain and cooler temperatures are in the forecast and we need both. River levels continue to drop and a heavy rain would really help.

Salmon Counts

The July 28 numbers for the Dungarvon Barrier show 73 grilse and 61 large salmon compared with 2018 numbers to the same date of 65 grilse and 51 large salmon.

On the Northwest Miramichi the count for July 28, 2019 has 87 grilse and 38 large salmon, compared with 53 grilse and 94 large salmon in 2018 to that date.
Students studying Atlantic salmon from Perth, Scotland and East Machias, Maine taking a break on the banks of the Miramichi. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Nathan Wilbur, ASF's Director of New Brunswick Programs was with with students studying Atlantic salmon on the Miramichi:

This week, students from Perth on the River Tay in Scotland and from East Machias, Maine were hosted by Ashley Hallihan and the Miramichi Valley High Fly Fishing Club.

The program has finally come to fruition thanks to the volunteer efforts of Ashley and his counterparts from Maine and Scotland. Students experienced the splendour of the Miramichi valley, including activities like fishing, the Doaktown Salmon Museum, staying at camps on the river, and fly fishing activities at the MSA headquarters.

The students headed for Downeast Maine on Wednesday to tour river restoration projects, with a stop in Chamcook to visit ASF's Wild Salmon Nature Centre for a science presentation on our marine tracking program. This will be an experience remembered for a lifetime by the students.
A Scottish student living near the River Tay sends a line into the Miramichi to test the waters and salmon. This student exchange is focused on Atlantic salmon Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Nova Scotia

Ingraham Brook, a spawning stream in the Northeast Margaree system for Atlantic salmon. Photo Brittany Polley


Alex Breckenridge, "The Tying Scotsman" notes the heat has descended, and the water levels are getting very low. There is a need just of rain, but a considerable amount of rain to refresh the river, and the Atlantic salmon.

Last few days has seen fewer anglers on the river as well - not surprising, given the conditions.
Ingraham Brook Pond in the Margaree. Photo Brittany Polley

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