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Rivernotes April 18th, 2024

by Tom Cheney, Director of Marketing

Editor’s Note

Welcome back for another season of Rivernotes!

This year, Rivernotes is coming to you from the banks of the Nashwaak River in Fredericton, N.B. I’ve been a reader, contributor, and proofreader of Rivernotes, and I’m delighted to take on the role of editor this season.

This blog is the place for up-to-date angling reports, river conditions, fishing stories, conservation news, and great imagery. But more than all that, Rivernotes is a community space. It’s a place to share your own experiences. It’s a place to hear from other members of the community of people who care about wild Atlantic salmon. We’re keen to share your fishing reports, stories, and pictures. Submit them here!

ASF has several major storytelling projects coming up this season, and Rivernotes readers can look forward to a special behind-the-scenes view. Also, stay tuned for an exciting brand collaboration!

This week brings reports from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Maine. This is the exciting time of year when our rivers slowly wake up, field work kicks into gear, and we anticipate the warmers days and good fishing soon to come.


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The editor releases a salmon last summer. This year's run will be in our rivers before long. Photo: Nick Hawkins.

New Brunswick

On Monday morning I headed up to Boisetown for a quick pre-work fish on the Southwest Miramichi. It was first light on the first day of salmon angling season. The water was freezing and there were no fish to be found, but it felt great just to be casting some line after the winter.

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ASF's Vice-President of Regional Programs Nathan Wilbur on a chilly season opener in New Brunswick. Photo: Tom Cheney.

When I recently touched base with Serge Collin, ASF Program Director for New Brunswick, he was excited about upcoming conservation projects in the province. ASF’s Headwaters program will be working with partners to increase connectivity and improve culverts. ASF will be helping with the installation of the first ever smolt wheel on the Nepisiguit River, as part of the Wild Salmon Watersheds program. And ASF staff will also be participating in a novel ‘trap and truck’ initiative on the Northwest Miramichi. This plan aims to protect out-migrating salmon smolt from the exploding striped bass population in the lower reaches of the river.

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"The Pumphouse," the future site of the Nepisiguit's first smolt wheel. Photo: Serge Collin.

Nova Scotia

Deirdre Green, ASF’s Nova Scotia Program Director, reports a positive start to the season in her region. She also offers a reminder that in Nova Scotia there is no recreational fishery for kelt (salmon that spawned last fall and are now returning to saltwater).

“Both field season and trout fishing are off to a productive start in Nova Scotia. Volunteer groups are assisting DFO with smolt wheel installations and keen anglers have hit the water, exploring their favourite haunts. Trout angling is now open on many watersheds throughout the province.

As salmon kelt still remain in our rivers, we encourage anglers to be mindful. In Nova Scotia there is no legal kelt fishery. If you are fishing for trout and hooking kelt, it’s important to switch up your technique, your fly, or move to another pool. This will ensure you limit your interaction with wild Atlantic salmon as they exit our rivers.

Overall, there are very good to high water levels throughout the province and no shortage of precipitation in the forecast. Even as I wrap up a sunny day in the field, rain pounds on my car roof and thunder rumbles in the distance.

Birdsong fills the air. Finches, sparrows, and blackbirds—feathered friends who are bubbling excitement for spring like the anglers I’ve crossed paths with riverside.

I hope to see you all on the water soon.”

Wondering about the rules? Read Nova Scotia’s recreational angling regulations here.

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(L)Volunteers from the St. Mary's River Association, DFO staff, and Deirdre Green install a smolt wheel. Photo: Kim Gordon. (R) A beautiful early season Nova Scotia brook trout. Photo: Tim Myers.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador Program Director Don Ivany reports on alarming climate-induced weather as well as several upcoming events:

“One of the most noticeable impacts of climate change is changes to our weather patterns, and the situation in Newfoundland and Labrador is no different. Not only has the province experienced far less snow than normal this past winter, but we also experienced one of the warmest winters on record. Warm air temperatures combined with torrential rainfall over the Easter weekend, causing many rivers to overflow their banks. The event also resulted in several landslides, including a major one on the lower Humber River that struck two vehicles passing by at the time, one of which was pushed into the Humber River and completely disappeared under water. Mercifully, no lives were lost.

Most rivers in the province have good water levels currently but some rivers are already on the low side, including several on the Northern Peninsula. If you are an angler who was counting on lots of snow and a slow spring run-off to maintain good water levels for the start of the angling season, then there is certainly reason to be concerned, especially if we experience another dry summer like last year. Either way, the angling season officially begins on the Island of Newfoundland on June 1st, and in Labrador on June 15th.

In the meantime, there are several events planned for the next month or so, starting with an outdoor show in Gander on April 19th-20th, hosted by the Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitters Association (NLOA). ASF will have a booth there. The Salmonid Association of Eastern Newfoundland (SAEN) will be hosting their annual dinner and auction in St. John’s on April 27th. Last, but not least, the Salmon Preservation Association for the Waters of Newfoundland (SPAWN) will be host their on-line auction between May 4th and 10th.

Finally, as part of ASF’s Wild Salmon Watersheds Program, in partnership with the Freshwater Alexander Bays Ecosystem Corporation (FABEC), several ASF staff will be meeting with FABEC volunteers on May 3rd to install a smolt wheel (being donated by ASF) on the Terra Nova River.”

Fingers crossed for good flows and lower temperatures in Newfoundland this season. Also, stay tuned for updates on ASF’s exciting Wild Salmon Watersheds program.

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A landslide on the Humber River. Photos: Don Ivany.


It’s no secret that ASF’s Maine team and its partners have made incredible strides restoring wild salmon and their habitats. For the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR), the hard work starts early in the season with egg planting in the headwaters. DMR’s Jennifer Noll shared the following report:

“March 27th marked the end of the 2024 egg planting season here in central Maine. Since 2010, egg planting has been the main method of stocking in the Sandy River, a large tributary to the Kennebec River, and it’s expanded into multiple watersheds across Maine and even into Vermont and California with other salmonids recently.

Eggs were the sole source of broodstock available for the second largest river system in Maine at the time of Endangered Species Act listing. To get the Kennebec River back on the “Atlantic salmon map,” Paul Christman (Maine Department of Marine Resources) adapted west coast U.S. methods for watershed-scale egg stocking in 2010. Egg planting entails using a hydrologic pump to bury the nozzle of a funnel (1-2” pipe affixed to 6” diameter pipe) 6 to 12 inches into spawning gravel, then dispensing eyed eggs, where they will continue to incubate until they hatch and naturally emerge from the gravel. This program is run with limited staff and lots of help from volunteers and partners!

DMR staff, partners and volunteers plant an annual average of 750,000 eyed eggs in the Sandy, 200,000 eyed eggs in Sheepscot, as well as various allotments on the Penobscot, Machias, Narraguagus and Pleasant Rivers. This year 486,130 eggs were planted in the Sandy River and 109,300 were planted in the Sheepscot River.

This stocking method, along with translocation of adults for wild spawning, has proven to be successful at creating one of the largest documented smolt runs in the state of Maine. DMR crews have smolt trapped the lower Sandy River with the goal of obtaining a population estimate for 2 smolt runs in 2021 and 2022. Population estimates were as follows: 13,229 in 2021 and 9,694 in 2022.”

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Planting salmon eggs in Maine. Photos: Jennifer Noll.