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Rivernotes June 6th 2024

by Tom Cheney, Director of Marketing

Editor’s Note

Bright Atlantic salmon have arrived in Eastern Canadian rivers, and anglers are finding them throughout the region. This week’s Rivernotes brings great news from New Brunswick and Quebec, where lower-than-seasonal water conditions are making for good fishing. Be sure to check out the reports from every province.

But first, this edition opens with two special contributions from Maine. ASF’s Maranda Nemeth reports from the Penobscot, a river that blooms with life thanks to decades of conservation work. Maranda’s words convey all the beauty and meaning of a vibrant ecosystem. And she gives us good reason to be hopeful: the work does make a difference.

We also hear from Laura Romania, ASF’s 2024 Jed Wright Fellow, who—literally—gave wild salmon a helping hand on the Kennebec this week. She helped move salmon trapped at the Lockwood Dam upriver to their spawning grounds.

In the coming weeks, many of us will be heading to our favourite rivers to connect with the fish we love. Maranda and Laura send us with a potent reminder: wild Atlantic salmon need people who care. We can’t take salmo salar for granted. But everything we’ve accomplished gives us plenty of hope for a bright future.

Please enjoy this week’s Rivernotes and remember that this is a community space. We’re keen to share your images, stories, and experiences.

This week’s lead image shows Alex Colford releasing a bright June salmon at Black Brook on the Miramichi River.


Maranda Nemeth, Manager of the Maine Headwaters Project, reflects on some hard-won conservation victories. June brings real feelings of optimism on our salmon rivers, and Maranda’s report encapsulates the sentiment perfectly.

“June is a magically charged month for sea-run fish in the Penobscot River. June is the month when the sturgeon leap; the month that—20 years ago—the Penobscot Settlement Accord was signed; the month of fishing for striped bass at sunrise; the month the Penobscot Trust exercised the option to purchase the lower dams, preparing for removal 16 years ago; the month lampreys are moving rocks, one by one, to build a nest for their eggs; the month Great Works Dam was removed 12 years ago. The list of hard-earned magic could go on….

The numbers of sea-run fish documented passing Milford Dam this year are astounding. The numbers should truly cause a reaction with you because they are unprecedented in our modern lifetimes. The numbers are also just a glimpse of the true partially restored abundance across the Penobscot watershed, since we know fish are missing the fishway entrance and we also know that fish are migrating up the tributaries downstream of Milford Dam, including a half million river herring along Blackman Stream.

Our present is intertwined with our past and future. The end of May and beginning of June brings such inspiration and hope. The abundance of fish migrating towards the headwaters and the actual fishing and catching of sea-run fish we can enjoy these days—it’s all possible because of the perseverance of the past. It also gives us the hope that we need for the present, to shape an even more abundant future.

For some further reflections, check out this recent audio story with Chuck Loring from the Penobscot Nation.”

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Sea lamprey building a nest 130 miles inland from the Penobscot Bay (l). A free-flowing Penobscot River at dawn (r). Photos: Maranda Nemeth.

On Maine’s Kennebec River, returning adult salmon meet an inadequate fishway at the Lockwood Dam. This week, ASF’s Laura Romania helped move salmon trapped at the dam to their sanctuary in the Sandy River, a key Kennebec tributary. She writes:

“Earlier this week, I participated in a trap-and-truck initiative to relocate salmon captured at Lockwood Dam on the Kennebec to the Sandy River. This method addresses the lack of fish passage along the Kennebec and helps migrating adult salmon conserve energy as they travel to their spawning grounds. Having seen it myself, I now understand why these fish venture so far to reach the Sandy: its clean and cool water provides the ideal habitat for eggs and soon-to-be juveniles to thrive.

I traveled to Augusta early Monday morning to meet DMR staff and former Jed Wright Fellow, Emma Christman. We packed into an outfitted truck and trailer and began our trek to Lockwood, and then upriver to Sandy spawning grounds. During the first release, I stood back and let the experts engage in the proper procedure for acclimating the salmon to river temperatures, oxygen levels, and pressure. Finally seeing our fish swim free from his water-tight sock, I was stunned—he stayed close-by. I could see his bright, sea-fresh scales sparkling in the sunlight, and swimming large laps as if to show off while surfacing frequently to fill his swim bladder.

On the second run from Lockwood to the Sandy River, I was able to handle both of the  fish being released. The first was super calm and didn’t really mind my grip, but the second, far more irritable from the drive, quickly thrashed out of my hands, making quite the splash. Participating in these efforts certainly filled me with a deeper sense and appreciation for the sheer amount of time and resources dedicated to ensure safe passage for Atlantic salmon.”

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Laura Romania releases a salmon rescued from the Lockwood Dam into the cool, clean waters of the Sandy River.

New Brunswick

From Country Haven on the Miramichi comes an exciting report from guide Ian Cavanagh. Ian notes perfect water conditions, several bright salmon hooked, and a reminder to support local fly shops. He writes:

“With the easy winter and and early ice out this spring, it seems that everything is a couple weeks ahead of a normal year. Our bright salmon season here on the Southwest Miramichi has now kicked off with the first one being landed by Dr. Jake Swan in Blissfield last Friday on a #4 Blue Charm! Several folks have been seeing fish moving up river the past week or so now, but with very few anglers on the river yet, it is really hard to know just how many fish are coming up into the system.

The Northwest Miramichi is also seeing bright fish and Karter Chase from Maine landed a beauty on a White “Butt” Green Machine, which Country Haven Guide Ken Vickers gave him last year. And just this morning Alex Colford at Black Brook landed a nice bright salmon, his first of the season. They are such an amazing fish—bright, strong and full of energy!

Most of our pools are in perfect shape, especially for this time of year, and conditions for the beginning of the summer season are just about perfect. Any trip to the Miramichi should always include a visit to W.W. Doak’s Fly Shop in Doaktown, Curtis’ Miramichi Fly Shop in Blackville, and Syd Matchett’s Trout Brook Fly Shop in Trout Brook. Here’s hoping that our next river report includes more nice bright early salmon! Until then, tight lines from the Miramichi!”

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Julia Carpenter fishes on the Kedgwick River. Photos: Nathan Wilbur.

Nova Scotia

In Nova Scotia, Program Director Deirdre Green reports on angling conditions and smolt wheel numbers. She writes:

“With low water levels, we have not yet received reports of the Margaree River’s first salmon, however some of the smaller Cape Breton rivers have seen a trickle of fish. Anglers are following the rain throughout the province of Nova Scotia and we are hearing of excellent early June fishing conditions on several mainland rivers.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in partnership with the St. Mary’s River Association (SMRA), installed smolt wheels on the East and West branches of the St. Mary’s River. The wheels were fished and checked daily from April 20th to May 24th, with 171 smolts caught on East branch and 3% of marked smolts recaptured. 259 smolts were caught in the two wheels on West branch with a 7% recapture rate. DFO has confirmed that these capture efficiencies are within the normal range for smolt wheels on the St. Mary’s River. They will be able to use this data for assessment after the field season has been completed. DFO biologists have extended a heartfelt thanks to the SMRA for their efforts in making this smolt season a success.

For the Morgan Falls Power (MFP) bypass on the LaHave River, DFO confirmed that close to 3,000 smolts were captured this spring. The MFP bypass is now closed for the season and DFO has opened the Morgan Falls fishway. Despite very low water conditions on the Lahave, 8 salmon and 4 grilse have been captured at the fishway as of June 4th.

On the Margaree, DFO opted to forgo the installation of the smolt wheel in favour of putting their trap-net in earlier. The trap-net is now installed and will target a smaller section of the channel in the lower Margaree. Margaree Salmon Association (MSA) Coordinator Aaron Allen reports that the trap is working well as gaspereau, suckers and brook trout have been captured to date. Stay tuned for updates from DFO and MSA on the first Atlantic salmon captured.”

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Sheppard’s Rock between Brook pool and Twin Elm, on the Margaree River. Photo: Robert Chiasson.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The ASF team is excited to welcome Kim Thompson, incoming Program Director for Newfoundland and Labrador. In her first Rivernotes report, Kim introduces herself and reports on water conditions on the island of Newfoundland:

“Last week marked the end of Don Ivany’s thirty plus-year career with ASF. Congratulations Don on reaching this milestone, best wishes for a happy and healthy retirement, and tight lines!

I would be amiss not to take this time to introduce myself, Kim Thompson, ASF’s new NL Program Director. I am so extremely excited and grateful to have the opportunity to work with such a talented team of individuals who are passionate about wild Atlantic salmon. There is no doubt that my love of nature, the outdoors, and my work experiences with Parks Canada and as Executive Director of Environment Resources Management Association (ERMA) on the Exploits River have afforded me this opportunity.

There are so many wonderful Atlantic salmon initiatives happening in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador and I look forward to sharing them with you. If you have a salmon conservation story, project and/or initiative you would like to share please contact me at

We have recently experienced a stretch of rain throughout the province that has resulted in high water levels and cool water temperatures on most rivers on the island, which makes for a good start to the opening of the angling season. There have been reports of salmon caught on Southwest Brook in Bay St. George and Terra Nova River, although it’s still early in the season for runs yet.”

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ASF's new Program Director for Newfoundland and Labrador, Kim Thompson (l). The Baie Verte River showing good water levels (r). Photos: Kim Thompson.


Charles Cusson, Quebec Program Director, reports a strong and early start to the salmon angling season in the province. Good water, lots of hookups, and lots to look forward to. He writes:

“La saison a débuté sur la plupart des rivières le 1er juin, à quelques exceptions près. Les niveaux d’eau en général sont très pêchables, mais bas pour cette période de l’année.

La pêche sportive dans les 3 rivières de Gaspé (York, Dartmouth et St-Jean) a débuté le 25 mai. Au cours du weekend, une montée de grand saumon a été observée en migrant vers l’amont de la York. De manière anecdotique, plusieurs saumons ont été signalés, capturés et relâchés. La Zec de Gaspé ne publiera pas de statistiques quotidiennes ou mensuelles de pêche, mais rapportera les résultats des dénombrements en rivière effectués au cours de la saison et donnera un topo de la saison en octobre prochain.

Sur la rivière Causapscal, le succès de pêche est supérieur à celui de l’année dernière à pareille date. La fin de semaine d’ouverture de la Cascapédia a été très active et productive, ce qui a donné lieu à la remise à l’eau de nombreux saumons de 25 à 30 lb. D’autres rivières commenceront à signaler des informations cette semaine et feront partie de mon rapport de la semaine prochaine.


The season started on most rivers on June 1st with a few exceptions. Water levels in general are very fishable but low for this time of the year. On the three Gaspé rivers (York, Dartmouth, and St-Jean), angling started on May 25th. Over the weekend, a good run of large fish was being observed migrating upstream on the York. Anecdotally, several salmon have been reported landed and released. The Gaspé ZEC will not publish daily or monthly angling statistics but will report the findings of the in-river counts completed during the season.

On the Causapscal River, angling success is ahead of last year to date. The opening weekend on the Cascapedia was highly active and productive, resulting in many fish in the 25 to 30 lb class reported being released. Other rivers will start reporting angling success this week and will be part of next week’s report.”

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Un début de saison mémorable pour Joe Coletta qui gracie un beau spécimen de la Petite-Cascapédia. Joe Coletta of Seattle Washington releases a fine Petite Cascapedia early run salmon to start off his season. Photo: Jean-Pierre Gagnon.