ASF RiverNotes 5 Sept 2019


Sep 5, 2019
This image shows the centre line for Hurricane Dorian as it was on Thursday, Sept. 5, at 9 am ADT
If NOAA's predictions are accurate, DORIAN will still be a hurricane as it reaches Nova Scotia, with the centreline prediction taking this "water dropper" somewhere near the St. Mary's River, and onto Newfoundland, perhaps over the Grey River, and the rivers of central Newfoundland.

Wind and rains extend out for hundreds of kilometres from the centre line, and could cause flash flooding and dangerous conditions over a wide swath of rivers.

Hopefully we're spared the damage with the benefit if higher water to bring lingering salmon into the rivers. 

New Brunswick

Dawn at McKiel Pond Pool, Southwest Miramichi, on September 1st. That day ASF's Nathan Wilbur caught three smallmouth bass from this headwater stretch. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
It's not hyperbole to say that the discovery of smallmouth bass in the Southwest Miramichi threatens to change an entire ecosystem and river culture forever. It's one more threat, this time from an aquatic invasive species, that the river and its salmon do not need.

Sadly, DFO has had the chance to prevent this invasion for more than a decade, but chose not to act. 

ASF will keep members and the public updated as new information becomes available.

Fall Atlantic salmon

Meanwhile, there is the very beginning of the autumn season for angling Atlantic salmon.

Brock Curtis
of Curtis Miramichi Outfitters notes:

The river is dropping since the rains on the weekend. We are getting rain off and on now and more is showing in the forecast so things are much better.

Water temperatures are great, and some anglers are seeing lots of salmon, while others are complaining they have lockjaw. Still others are enjoying catching salmon.

It is picking up now and will continue to get better. The good news on Tuesday was we are now hearing of fresh salmon being caught. Some of us were thinking they might show up last weekend but today is okay. Fresh salmon working their way upriver is always good news. This might be the beginning of the Fall runs.

It certainly will be interesting to see how much of a rainfall Dorian brings on Saturday.

Miramichi Counts

On Thursday morning DFO released Miramichi counts to Sept. 1, 2019.

At the counting fence, on the Dungarvon, a tributary of the Southwest Miramichi, there were 81 grilse and 68 large samon compared with 76 grilse and 58 large salmon to the same date in 2018.

At the Northwest Miramichi Barrier, there were 131 grilse and 49 large salmon, compared with 78 grilse and 103 large salmon in 2018 to the same date.
Nashwaak River on Sept. 30 as rain brings up levels. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
St. John River

DFO has just posted the Aug. 31 numbers, with 499 grilse and 183 large salmon reaching Mactaquac, compared with 411 grilse and just 60 large salmon on the same date in 2018. The comparison to the 1996-2000 average is enlightening, with 3,495 grilse and 1,359 large salmon.

It is heartening to see a modest increase from 2018, but the near historic low nature of the numbers needs to be remembered.

Nashwaak River

There have been 115 grilse and 32 large salmon to Aug. 1, a significant increase over the 67 grilse and 18 large salmon to the same date in 2018.

Prince Edward Island

The "Pumphouse Run" on the Morell River in late June under higher than average water conditions. Photo Taylor Main
Taylor Main comments on the fishing this year on PEI

Once again, the summer trout season is beginning to wind down and many are looking forward to the fall extended fisheries.

The Mill and Morell rivers are once again open for salmon angling until Oct. 31 with lower sections of an additional 19 systems open until Nov. 31 as part of our fall steelhead fishery. Whether you were after trout, rainbows or stripers most would agree that we had a very good summer here on the Island.
A typical PEI sea run brook trout released in mid-July. Photo Taylor Main
As was the case last year, our rivers remained quite high well into July.

Even by the end of late August most were holding at higher levels than previous years. A cooler than average summer also allowed most to stay well below record high temperatures we have witnessed in previous years. Hopefully lots of rain and fresh fish are to follow.
Indian Bridge at high tide on the Morell River. 30 Aug 2019. Photo Taylor Main
Morrell River on 30 Aug 2019. Photo Taylor Main

Nova Scotia

La Have River

At Morgan Falls the count to Aug. 1 is now available - 133  grilse and 11 large salmon, compared with 20 grilse and 53 large salmon in 2018. The 1996-2000 average was 568 grilse and 118 large salmon.

Would be very interesting to know more about the reasons for the year-to-year oscillation in the grilse and large salmon returns.


Greg Lovely notes:

Little bits of rain from time to time are keeping the water levels on the Margaree river fishable and at this time the water temperatures are good.

Fish are being hooked daily and new Fall fish are trickling in on each tide.The Middle and Baddeck rivers open to salmon angling on Oct. 1 and hopefully they will produce good salmon angling as well to spread out the fishermen and take the pressure off the Margaree.

Alex Breckenridge, who runs The Tying Scotsman, says on Wed.

The rain we had yesterday didn’t amount to much. There was a fair number of fish hooked though. Its a good fishing day out there dull and overcast with no wind.

He also drew attention to the likelihood of major rain on the coming weekend, with Dorian.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Don Ivany, ASF Director of Programs in Newfoundland and Labrador has some comments.

As we near the end of the regular angling season there has not been much change in salmon counts on most rivers in NL from the last DFO update.

See latest DFO fishway counts at:

Overall, counts are down on 13 monitored rivers and up on 6 rivers. Of particular concern are the low counts this year on rivers like the Exploits, Western Arm Brook, Middle Brook and Sandhill River.

On a positive note counts are up significantly on the Terra Nova River and on Northwest River (Port Blandford). Anglers are also reminded that the regular angling season for most rivers on the Island closes on Sept. 7, the exceptions being the Humber, Exploits and Gander rivers which have a fall fishery that closes on Oct. 7. Meanwhile, rivers in Labrador close on Sept 15. Again, anglers are encouraged to check with DFO regarding river closures and openings due to environmental conditions or to check the Anglers Line at: 709-772-4423..

For the most part, angling has remained slow on many rivers on the Island during the past week due to less than ideal conditions. The one thing that has changed in the past week or so is that air temperatures are starting to cool down, especially at night. As a result, for the first time in many weeks, water temperatures on most rivers have dropped slightly and water levels have started to improve due to sporadic rain. Conditions should continue to improve now that there is a touch of Fall in the air, and more rain is forecast for next week, as Hurricane Dorian slowly and will make a direct hit on Newfoundland.

Currently, water levels and water temperatures are fairly good on most rivers in Labrador. Throughout the province, anglers are reporting that there are fewer fish in the lower reaches of rivers at this time, since most salmon have made their way to the upper reaches of these systems in preparation for spawning.

The big news in Newfoundland during the past week continues to be that most DFO guardians will be laid off for the season as of Sept. 7. This has outraged many anglers since  salmon are congregated in larger pools because water levels on many rivers are still fairly low.

These salmon are extremely vulnerable to poaching, especially since there will be no anglers on the rivers after Sept. 7 to keep an eye on them. Considering that 2019 is the ‘International Year of the Salmon’, we expect and deserve more protections for these fish.

We call on the Federal Minister of Fisheries to extend these guardian positions for the next month or so.
The Gander River with a jumping fish. All is well. Photo Don Ivany/ASF
Specific Reports

Fishing has been slow on the lower Humber in the last week or so and few fish are being seen in areas like Boom Siding. There is a few fish being hooked at Little Falls but few fish have been seen at Big Falls. Anglers are reporting that there is a good sign of fish in the upper reaches of the Humber in places like Taylors Brook and Deadwater Brook which are main spawning tributaries.

Similarly, there are reports of large numbers of fish on both the Southwest Gander and Northwest Gander tributaries (above Gander Lake) which are the main spawning grounds for fish on the Gander River. Reports are that water levels are still very low in this section of river and water temperatures are still warm making for very slow angling.
Airborne! Beautiful leap of Atlantic salmon, lower Humber River. Photo Bill Bryden
Water levels on Harry’s River have improved and are now at medium flow. Temperatures have also dropped and are now at 13.5 Celsius.

Angling remains slow on the mainstem since most fish have now reached upper reaches of the river. Anglers are reporting that there are now a lot of fish at ‘Home Pool’, which is normal for this time of year.

Water levels have also improved on Grey River and Isle Aux Morts River on the south coast, where they are now at medium flows. Water temperatures on these rivers are starting to drop as well, so hopefully there will be decent fishing over the next few days to close out the season.

In Southern Labrador, particularly the Forteau and Pinware, water levels and water temperatures have improved but anglers are still reporting few fish which has been a common trend on these rivers this season. Rivers in Northern Labrador had excellent fishing for most of the season, but things have slowed in recent weeks because of high water conditions.


As we begin the last month of the season, low water conditions were a major factor affecting angling success during August on many rivers.

To date, many rivers have good numbers of fish and this should translate into better angling if rainstorms drop a little bit of moisture on the watersheds.

Reminder: Data used in the Quebec section of ASF RiverNotes is compiled from various river websites, social media and Quebec government sources.
Josée Marie Adams releases a nice salmon on the York River. Photo Geneviève Fournier


Riffles on Sheepscot above site of demolished Coopers Mills Dam. Photo Maranda Nemeth

Maranda Nemeth notes:

Throughout this summer, state environmental agencies and partners have been monitoring the river response to the Coopers Mills Dam removal that was completed in 2018. The reach of river above the dam had been impounded for over 200 years and for that time was stagnant dead water with poor water quality. Based on a field survey, the reach is now either a run or riffle with promising gravel beds for Atlantic salmon spawning.

The water quality monitoring is also showing improved dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and conductivity. Monitoring will continue into the fall and the final habitat and water quality results will be processed this winter but within a year the stretch of river is already rebounding.

Concrete abutments have been poured at the Head Tide Dam. Photo Maranda Nemeth
Aug. 29 update of Atlantic salmon returns to the Milford Fish Lift.

Jason Valliere, biologist with Maine Department of Marine Resources, writes:

Milford is back up and running. It was re-watered and fishing on 8 Aug. Since then we have caught 3 salmon that had not been previously handled. (They could be some of the 100+ that passed unhandled due to temperature and dropped back down below Milford), so we count them as new adding 3 to the escapement estimate bringing us up to 1135. We also recaptured two fish in the last week, (139) for the season.

On another interesting note . . . 50 fish captured at Milford were radio-tagged this year and released back to the river in Brewer. Of those 50 fish 46 of them reascended the dam via the lift. One fish was netted over the Milford Dam by Brookfield during dewatering of the ledges. None of the radiotagged fish swam over the dam. The three fish that have not been recaptured re-approached Milford and dropped back down to some of the old holding pools in the river below. Five fish that re-ascended via the Milford lift have dropped back down over the dam and are currently holding in various locations below Milford. Some of these salmon were detected as far up river as Howland/West Enfield before dropping back to the lower river.

River temperatures are still holding around 70 F. Hopefully as river temperatures begin to drop fish will start to move around more and we will start seeing better numbers, including the remaining tagged fish, at Milford.

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