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Rivernotes August 10th, 2023


Aug 9, 2023
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Before arriving in Newfoundland, I'd never been asked to show my fishing license. However, since coming here, I've been checked twice. Considering the intricate challenges these rivers face, it's reassuring to witness proactive enforcement in action. Additionally, interacting with their courteous and well-informed demeanor has been a positive experience. I Peter Dore


As summer intensifies, our rivers heat up and fish start to seek refuge in cooler pockets. During this time, it’s essential to handle them with utmost care when fishing. Please take a few moments to educate yourself about best fish handling practices and share this link with both novice and experienced anglers alike. Learn more at:

Traversing the expanse of Newfoundland’s Route 1, heading westward towards Corner Brook, my truck began an erratic dance. There’s a certain charm to unexpected sways, but at 75 mph (100kph) with formidable logging trucks charging from the opposite direction, it’s a pulse-quickening experience.

Newfoundland’s rugged allure, with its unpredictable jostles, proved not just a poetic challenge but a tangible strain on my vehicle. The landscape’s demands translated to an imposing repair bill: a complete overhaul of my steering rack, power steering pump, and a fresh set of tires.

However, life’s challenges often mask unexpected adventures. My pit stop at a repair shop in Corner Brook offered me a chance to discover the town’s hidden gems. Situated between the Marble Ski Resort, Gros Morne, and surrounded by six of the world’s renowned salmon rivers, the town was a delightful revelation. It buzzed with energy, boasting cozy coffee shops, local breweries, and the warm generosity I’ve come to associate with Newfoundlanders. Immersing myself in the culture, enjoying the ambiance of a bar, and indulging in my passion for photo editing and writing over a span of five days was a serendipitous break. Being a wallflower has always been one of my favorite activities.

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The old homestead is propped up on blocks. While it initially seemed frustrating to pause my travels, I've genuinely fallen in love with Corner Brook. It's a wonderful small city that I hope to visit often in the future! I Peter Dore

Throughout my travels, I’ve met several unexpected guides. Tracey Clarke, whom I had the pleasure of fishing with on the Bonaventure River in June, stands out among them. Upon learning that my trip had turned towards Corner Brook, she adamantly recommended that I meet Dan Chaisson. True to her proactive nature, she connected us with a thoughtful email introduction.

Embodying the quintessential Newfoundland spirit, Dan not only fetched me from the dealership but also treated me to a breakfast. He willingly shared insights into Newfoundland’s long-standing dedication to salmon fishing as a cornerstone of its recreational economy. Dan’s once played a key role in a government initiative that sought to breathe life into local communities by identifying avenues of revenue generation. It’s a pressing concern, as many coastal communities on ‘The Rock’ grapple with societal issues like drug dependency and poverty. These challenges, compounded by the exodus of the younger generation seeking better opportunities in places like Alberta, have left an indelible mark on the region.

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Since arriving in Newfoundland, I've been embraced by many, treated as if I were family. Dan was no exception. He and his wife generously hosted me, cooking dinner and engaging in heartfelt conversations. Bright and early at 3 am, Dan and I ventured to Harry's River. There, I managed to hook a salmon, although it eluded capture in the end! I Peter Dore
The challenge of leveraging Newfoundland’s inland fisheries to provide sustainable economic growth for small communities, while also conserving the fishery, is neither a new idea nor a straightforward task. Lee Wulff faced this very dilemma during his tenure in the region. He voiced concerns about rampant poaching, politicians currying favor with commercial fishermen, and overfishing of salmon and trout. In his final memoir, “Bush Pilot Angler,” Wulff vividly recalled a poignant conversation with associates Jim Thompkins and Jack Meehand. He wrote of witnessing unprecedented levels of poaching and the troubling decline in salmon runs. An emotional moment with Jack underscored the gravity of the situation, leading to the realization: “There is a job to do, and it seems it’s ours—the Tourist Board’s. I hope we’re up to the task.”
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As I stood by Harry's River before dawn, with the sound of flowing water as my companion, I found myself pondering how often Lee Wulff might have stood in that very spot. I Peter Dore
Dan was entrusted with this very mission. In our dialogues, he detailed his efforts to replicate Quebec’s ZEC (zone d’exploitation contrôlée or controlled harvesting zone) system on several Newfoundland rivers. Intriguingly, I had been mulling over a similar proposal for ASF leadership, making me eager to understand why Dan believed his initiative hadn’t taken root. Several obstacles arose: there exists an intrinsic spirit of access and freedom among rural Newfoundlanders, which is understandable given their history marked by oppression and hardship in the rugged coastal settlements. Historically, any significant change often sparks fears of loss and, in the salmon world, the ever-present concern of privatization. When Gros Morne was designated a protected area and local access restricted, it was met with considerable local discontent. Concerning his endeavors to introduce new commercial models for rivers, Dan believed a more grassroots approach was needed to educate and win over the local communities. Although achieving this would be an uphill task, he viewed it as essential. His voice carried a hint of yearning, suggesting he saw in me a potential catalyst for change.
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Each time I discussed the protection of these rivers with locals, the issue of poaching consistently emerged. While it's a vast and intricate problem, it was reassuring to see officers actively addressing it. I Peter Dore

As many seasoned salmon anglers would attest, the interior of their fly boxes is an organized artistry, brimming with feathers sourced from both local and exotic birds and animals. The precision and presentation go beyond the confines of that box—there’s an unspoken understanding that “How you do anything is how you do everything,” especially when engaging with wild Atlantic salmon. Until recently, my experiences echoed this sentiment. However, my latest journey introduced me to an outlier in the salmon fishing community: Paul White. He’s the rotten individual and creative mind behind the unconventional fly, the “Dirty Bomber”—often dubbed the ugliest in one’s collection. If you recall my previous edition of “Rivernotes,” Paul is the guiding force behind the young enthusiasts I mentioned, instilling in them a fervor for salmon fishing.

It was Kim Thompson who bridged the connection between Paul and me. Intrigued by my narrative about the young anglers, Paul was eager to meet. He had recently returned to the island from a fishing expedition in Labrador and was stationed at the River of Ponds campground by the time I arrived. As I entered the cozy camp shop, walls adorned with photographs of triumphant anglers and their catches, I felt an overwhelming sense of history and legacy. Engaging in conversations with the proprietors, I inquired about Lee, absorbing tales of their fathers who once worked for him during the heydays of the lodges.

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The "Dirty Bomber" brand is a testament to Paul's charisma. He's crafted a brand that resonates with the younger generation, bringing a fresh and spirited perspective to salmon fishing. His remarks about flies needing a touch of imperfection and his unique approach to catching salmon are invigorating. Wherever we went, people greeted Paul with warmth, and it's easy to see why. I Peter Dore

Soon after, Paul and I ventured out to the riverbanks. Confronted by strong winds, we decided on a section nearer to the ocean, sheltered from the wind tunnels formed by trees. Paul was eager to showcase the prowess of the Dirty Bomber. As we settled, he regaled me with the captivating origin story of this unconventional fly:

In the mid-1980s, I stumbled upon the art of fly tying, a passion ignited by Dave Green from Placentia, a colleague of my father at the US Naval Base in Argentia. Dave handed me a Sunrise vice for a mere $5, shared some of his own tools, and recommended supplies from W.W. Doak in Doaktown, New Brunswick. He also lent me a book, the “Universal Fly-Tying Guide” by Dick Stewart, offering his guidance whenever I had questions.

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With the wind fiercely gusting, we moved closer to the ocean to escape its intensity. As we settled, Paul shared tales of how Lee used to land his plane on this very stretch and fish the mouth of the River of Ponds. I Peter Dore

Embarking on this journey, I quickly understood that while humans may craft the flies, it’s the fish that determine their efficacy. The key to successful angling is to focus on the fish’s preferences, not the human’s aesthetic standards. To my surprise, the crude flies I initially dismissed as unsightly turned out to be quite effective in catching salmon.

The lesson I embraced from the start was simple: if something works, don’t meddle with it. This was partly out of necessity – as a kid, I couldn’t afford the “ideal” bomber feather saddles. But over time, it became about innovation and creativity. My first attempts at spinning deer hair for flies resembled feline furballs rather than functional lures.

My early endeavors had me tying deer hair bugs with brown squirrel tails. Later, I attempted a bomber with dual white calf tail wings. Budget constraints meant I couldn’t opt for pricey saddles and dry fly capes. Instead, I used Chinese rooster capes and selected Indian Dry Fly capes, sourced from WW Doak and sports stores in Mount Pearl Square and Corner Brook. While not the ideal Whiting or Metz bomber feathers, these hackles were broader, fluffier, and worked astonishingly well when wrapped around my crafted lures.

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This fly was impeccably crafted in its "rotten" design, sitting atop the water's surface. Its unique presentation undoubtedly explains why salmon are drawn to it so aggressively, striking with enthusiasm.
In my novice angling days, I hid these makeshift bombers, which I perceived as subpar, in a case crafted from a Becton Dickinson insulin device. But every so often, I’d discreetly attach one to my line. Most local anglers in Placentia hadn’t adopted dry fly fishing in the 1980s, but my friend Morris had, and with great success. Observing him, I gained the courage to use my own creations. To my astonishment, those very bombers I once concealed out of embarrassment became my secret weapon, consistently hooking salmon and brown trout alike.

Read the full story about the Dirty Bomber, HERE.

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Paul possesses a warmth and generosity that's truly endearing. The next time I find myself in Newfoundland, he'll undoubtedly be among the first I'll call for a fishing outing. I Peter Dore

Thank you for being part of the Rivernotes community and tuning in each week as I navigate the stunning, rugged landscapes of salmon country. As always, share the Rivernotes blog with friends who might appreciate these stories. Each share and gift given becomes a ripple that could spark a wave of change.

Please consider contributing to ASF, HERE.

Also, I love hearing from you all, especially those of you who challenge me to do a better job! Please, always feel encouraged to reach out directly to or with comments, questions or concerns!

Until next week, stay sharp, and tight lines!


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Did someone use your fly box for target practice? This collection might be disorganized, but if it gets the job done, who's to judge? It's all about the catch, after all! I Peter Dore
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Pêchant la Bonaventure, Laurence Galarneau- Girard a eu le plaisir de gracié cette belle pièce I David Montpetit - Laurence Galarneau-Girard had the pleasure of releasing this typical Bonaventure River salmon.


Read the Full Report from Charles Cusson Quebec Program Director, Here
Editor’s Note:

On the eve of my first trip to Gaspe Peninsula’s Bonaventure River, I found myself at the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) headquarters in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. We were there to welcome Andrew Clarke and Kristen Noel, the new members of the ASF Communication team, with a casual post-work barbecue.

As I busied myself with some last-minute adjustments to my truck, preparing for what I anticipated to be a lengthy journey, Bill approached me. “Impressive setup, Peter. Where are you off to?” he asked. With a touch of uncertainty, I revealed the plan I had hatched with Kate and Scotty Sherin, and my fishing pals from Maine, Joe and Orion.

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On a serene, mist-laden morning by the Bonaventure, the crystalline clarity of the water and the tranquil ambiance enveloped me. As I journeyed through this setting, I found myself whispering over and over, "This place is truly magical." I Peter Dore

In the midst of our conversation, I voiced my belief that dry fly fishing for trout was the world’s finest type of fishing. Bill retorted, “That’s probably because you haven’t tried dry fly fishing for salmon yet. It’s a completely different experience!”

His curiosity piqued, Bill then asked, “What type of rod are you packing?” I showcased my Orvis 8wt rod and Hydros reel. He responded, flashing his trademark grin, “That might not be enough for what you’re up against.” He continued, “The Bonaventure is full of fish that’ll take you into your backing in a flash. Good luck!” Wrapping up our conversation with his light-hearted jest, he wished me a fun and safe journey.

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Bill, battling a salmon with all his might – the essence of his remarks to me before my journey to Bonaventure is vividly encapsulated in this photograph.

Bill Taylor, ASF President and CEO, Reports from the Bonaventure River:

It was a magical morning on the Bonaventure, characterized by a cool, cloudy atmosphere with a delicate mist gracing the water. I found myself in the company of a close-knit group of ASF friends at Camp Bonaventure. My morning was spent fishing alongside my trusted friend and skilled guide, Robert Benwell.

Departing the camp at 8 am, we navigated our canoe gently upriver, scrutinizing every pool and pocket for resting salmon. Whenever we spotted a few fish, Robert skillfully aligned the canoe to ensure the optimal angle for a lengthy cast and a drag-free drift. We alternated, each casting our Bombers towards the sighted fish. Some salmon instantly attacked our flies on the first cast, while others required several attempts before finally being hooked. There’s an unparalleled thrill in repeatedly coaxing a salmon before it finally bites.

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The resplendent silver of Bonaventure – the fish that grace this region are robust, majestic creatures, deserving of our deepest admiration.
Over the course of 2.5 hours, we managed to hook and engage with six salmon, each weighing between 12-15 pounds. We released four of them, each one fresh and in prime condition. Their resistance was remarkable, exhibiting multiple jumps, somersaults, and long runs that forced us into our reel’s backing. It was one of those exceptional mornings in salmon fishing that etch themselves into our memory forever.
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Michael Baytoff, Rivernotes Contributor, Reports:

For decades, I’ve admired pictures and read stories about the enchanting Margaree River and Cape Breton Island. This past July, my long-awaited chance arrived to explore this beloved valley and sacred river. After a lengthy drive from Halifax, I approached the valley just before dusk. An eerie fog enveloped me, deepening the sense of mystery. Navigating the dense fog and impending darkness, I cautiously drove the winding gravel and dirt road to Big Intervale Lodge, perched along the upper reaches of the Margaree. I sought the river’s presence, to be serenaded to sleep by its murmurs and to awaken to its melodies. This place was a dream come true.

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Each morning before dawn, with gear prepared, I donned my waders and trekked along the upper Margaree to its renowned pools. The rising sun would amplify my senses as it illuminated the mountain peaks before casting its radiant beams upon the river. This age-old river, meandering through verdant mountains and hills, has carved its path for millennia. Standing by its side, I felt a profound connection to its magic and history. I would deeply inhale the crisp air, attempting to absorb and remember every scent. Every day, the splendor of the land, the lush hills, and the Margaree’s tranquil spirit left me awestruck. Changes in the weather made the river levels vary, yet I was blessed with good rains that were favorable for fishing. I recall one particularly large salmon that took me on a thrilling chase, only to leave with a unique fly—a gift from Hermann, a seasoned local angler.
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My days were filled with discoveries: famed river pools, warm encounters with locals and fellow travelers, and whispers of Margaree’s tales. A memorable day was spent hiking in Cape Breton Highlands National Park at Cheticamp, reminiscent of Yosemite Valley. A vivid memory is of a vibrant salmon in Cheticamp’s clear rivers, which made a swift exit soon after our encounter. Yet, in Margaree, brook trout were plentiful, with the occasional brown trout making an appearance. Salmon, though present, remained elusive.

After fulfilling days by the river, comforting meals and the warmth of a malt drink ensured restful nights. I yearn to return, to immerse myself once more in this dreamy valley, with its welcoming people, rich history, and enduring serenity.

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"Mark your calendars! We'll be holding an outreach event at McElmons Pond in Debert, NS on August 19 from 11am until 2pm. Come on over, indulge in some complementary snacks and cold drinks, and chat about Atlantic salmon!"
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A guardian cabin perched high on the banks of the Restigouche river near Matapedia I Nathan Wilbur


Nathan Wilbur, ASF’s Executive Director of Regional Programs, Reports:

Cooler nights and a blast of rain this week have combined to create fantastic water conditions throughout New Brunswick’s salmon rivers. As a result, warm water protocol closures have lifted on the Nepisiguit and Miramichi, and there are currently no warm water closures in the province. We couldn’t ask for much better conditions in early August.

After a very warm July, fishing has picked up with the improved water conditions in August, and fresh fish have been reported coming into parts of the Miramichi system and Nepisiguit.

Despite great water conditions, there is a crisis happening on the Northwest Miramichi. A protection barrier run by the Miramichi Salmon Association on the Northwest Miramichi is showing alarmingly low returns compared to previous years. Keep in mind, the barrier is located far upriver in the system so only captures a small portion of the run, but enables comparison from year to year.

Just how bad is it? In 2023 as of August 8th, only 5 grilse have showed up to the Northwest Miramichi barrier. Compared to a good year in recent history, this is a 99% reduction to the same date in 2011 when 547 grilse had showed up. Compared to a recent poor year, this is a 96% reduction from the 115 grilse that showed up to the barrier by early August in 2019.

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Birdseye view of the Restigouche estuary near Campbelton I Nathan Wilbur
The low returns are, sadly, no surprise given that our smolt tracking program showed less than 5% smolt survival through the estuary of the Northwest Miramichi last spring. The culprit: striped bass. The estuary of the Northwest is where several hundred thousand striped bass gather to spawn at precisely the time the smolt are leaving the river. Anyone who has seen it in person understands how difficult it would be for a smolt to survive. ASF, MSA, Anqotum, and other partners have been tracking salmon smolt on the Miramichi for 20 years and we’ve seen smolt survival through the estuary plummet from 55-70% down to a low of less than 5% last year on the Northwest. It’s a brighter picture on the Southwest Miramichi with smolt survival typically around 30% through the estuary. For comparison, the Restigouche and Cascapedia rivers have a consistent 90% smolt survival rate through their estuaries and Chaleur Bay.

Collectively, ASF and partners including the New Brunswick Salmon Council, the Miramichi Salmon Association, the Miramichi Watershed Management Committee, and Indigenous organizations have been raising the alarm bells with DFO for some time based on the dismal smolt tracking results and striped bass predation. We are asking DFO to urgently reduce the striped bass population in such a way that is remains a sustainable population but improves balance in the ecosystem, not only with salmon but other important species like smelt and alewives. We have proposed a number of practical measures that DFO Fisheries Management could implement immediately, such as allowing anglers to keep any sized striped bass in freshwater, removing the upper size slot limit, and helping Eel Ground First Nation achieve their commercial quota of striped bass.

DFO recently published their Gulf Region Atlantic salmon and striped bass science reports showing returns from 2022. Of note, the striped bass spawners had increased from approximately 300,000 over the past few years to 471,800 last year.

Salmon : Science Response 2023/035 (

Striped bass : Science Response 2023/004 (


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Photo submitted by Fred Campbell
Founders meet on the Flowers 
On a recent trip to the Flowers River in Labrador, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and Fred Campbell, the president of Hooké met for the first time. Patagonia is a global brand with a sustainability mission and Chouinard is one of the world’s most respected philanthropists. Hooké is a brand on the rise, popularizing Atlantic salmon culture and supporting it with a complete line of equipment and apparel. Learn more at
Don Ivany, Newfoundland and Labrador Program Director, Reports:
In Labrador, Dwight Lethbridge of Pratt Falls Lodge faced a quiet week on the Eagle River’s lower section. Even with favorable water conditions, fish seemed to have moved upstream, where fishing thrived 16 kilometers ahead. Tony Chubbs, helming the Labrador Hunting and Fishing Association, notes an absence of fish on the Kenamu River last weekend. A recent trip to Pleasure Steady had mild success with a few grilse spotted. The region observed a delayed net fishery season for salmon this year, but trout were in abundance, marking it as one of the best trout years Tony has seen.

Over on the Island of Newfoundland:

The Northern Peninsula has seen improved water conditions, but fish remain elusive, making fishing activities languid.

In Western NL, Dan Chaisson’s recent venture to Harry’s River was uneventful, spotting just one fish. Rivers in Bay St. George, now accessible all day, aren’t teeming with fish, especially in the lower sections. Eddie Donnelly and Brayden Coish had similar subdued experiences on the Humber River, pointing to fewer fish and warmer water temperatures.

Central NL is slightly more optimistic. The Gander River, now welcoming anglers throughout the day, has seen satisfactory catches. Dave Vardy, in particular, had a rewarding day, releasing two sizable fish. However, the Exploits River is less bustling, opening only in the early mornings due to warmth, and the catch reports are subdued.

On the South Coast, rivers are accessible all day, but water levels are wanting. Melvin Banfield’s observations on the Baie de L’eau River are concerning. He believes a new fishway, overseen by the aquaculture firm Greig, might be hindering fish movements, as the current population is noticeably less than previous years.

Lastly, the Avalon Peninsula narrates a similar story of low water levels and dwindling catches. However, Mitch Randell’s recent escapade on the Renews River was fruitful, where he caught and released his daily quota.

In sum, while some areas hint at promise, the general mood across the regions leans towards a quieter fishing season.


Jason Valliere, Maine Department of Marine Resources Scientist, Reports:

Looks like summer is over. River temperatures have dropped 5-6 degrees C ,9-10 degrees F.

Observing juvenile river herring migrating down river headed toward the sea has been a frequent occurrence at the fish way in the past couple weeks.

23 salmon were captured at Milford since the last report. That brings the estimate to 1519. This number has not been adjusted for “in season” recaptured fish so it will change. In season recaptures are Fish that have already passed through the fishway once and have decided to drop downstream and come back up through the lift again….

Milford is currently shut down for a few days for annual summer maintenance.

Next report will be in 2 weeks….

Read the full report, Here!