ASF RIVERNOTES - 12 Oct., 2017

A Kaleidoscope of  Bright Colours

If an Atlantic salmon river is incredible in Spring or mid-Summer, add the palette of bright colours of late September and on into October. There is amazing beauty and perhaps an extra level of combined peace and excitement to be found on these rivers when the forest leaves turns colour. Atlantic salmon and the wild beauty of these rivers just go together, making perfection.

New Memories from 2017

When Ben Carmichael and friends journeyed to the Matapedia and Cascapedia in late September the goal was to catch fish and enjoy time on the river. They did both and gathered some wonderful pictures along the way.

In Ben's own words:

We arrived in Quebec for the last week of the season to find the rivers extremely low, but with rain in the forecast. Our first stop was the Matapedia, where we spent two nights with Jim Rusher in Ruthierville, exploring the river. The good news is that we found and fished over lots of fish -- but with the water levels so low, they were finicky. One in camp had a bite, but that was all we had to show for the effort. That night, we lit the fire pit high on the bank overlooking the river and under a starry sky, had some single malt, told stories, and had a wonderful time.

Looking downstream on the Matapedia on a crisp September morning. Photo Ben Carmichael.

Ben Carmichael continues:

From the Matapedia we traveled to the Cascapedia, where we spent a week at New Derreen Camp. The water was higher (with flows around 17 cubic metres per second on the first day), with water temps in the mid 50's F. We had fairly steady action, with a number of fish hooked and landed within the opening days. Then rain came, the river had two consecutive bumps in levels, turned brown and the water temp hovered around 46 F. We caught a few fish, including one on the last day of the season -- a bright 14 lbs female that jumped more than 6 times. It was a wonderful way to end the season.

Dave Cole reels in a wild Atlantic salmon at Scow Channel on the Cascapedia. The light, the river, and the intense focus on an unseen fish give the image a painterly quality. Photo Ben Carmichael

An exquisitely bejewelled large male salmon angled by Dave Cole,about to be released on the Cascapedia River. Photo Ben Carmichael

Dave Cole tossing some Spey casts at Scow Channel on the Cascapedia.  Photo Ben Carmichael

The last week of September brings out fall colours amid the crisp autumn light on the Cascapedia River. This shot looks south from New Derreen Camp. Photo Ben Carmichael


The season numbers for the Bonaventure River came in too late for last week's ASF RIVERNOTES, and are below:

The number of grilse harvested is low because the number of  grilse returning to this river was low again this year, as it was in many other Gaspé rivers.

New Brunswick

While there were moderate showers associated with Hurricane Nate late on the Canadian Thanksgiving/Columbus Day weekend it was not enough to bring up low water levels everywhere.

Hammond - ASF's Geoff Giffin notes the extreme low levels of the river, as shown by the image below.

Hammond River with extremely low water, on Oct. 6, 2017. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

Miramichi -

Brock Curtis of Curtis Miramichi Outfitters in Blackville gives an update from Tues., Oct. 10:

We are on the last leg of our salmon angling season. Angling slowed down this past weekend then picked up last night only to slow down again today. A real up and down trend. The rain has raised the river. It should crest and start dropping tonight and tomorrow. Anglers are hoping that with the full moon and rain over the long weekend, it might bring good fishing for the last few days of the season. Many comments on how beautiful the Fall colors are.

Gray Rapids, below Blackville on the Southwest Miramichi, on 10 Oct. 2017. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

The Sept. 30 numbers were posted in this past week:

St. John River

The numbers remain at critically low levels in both the St. John River at Mactaquac, and in the Nashwaak.

Jacquet River

It is interesting that the grilse numbers were in the same ballpark as last year, but certainly large salmon are down in this northern NB river.


Bob Baker
noted on Tuesday Oct. 10 that the temperatures have been up and down this fall, and while water levels are low, Atlantic salmon are spread out in the river.

At the Nepisiguit River counting fence a large male Atlantic salmon is assessed during September. Photo courtesy Bob Baker

At Pabineau Falls on the Nepisiguit River, just as the fall colours were starting, on Sept. 25, 2017. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

A male Atlantic salmon released and swimming strongly in the Nepisiguit River. Photo Courtesy Bob Baker

Nova Scotia

Northumberland Strait Rivers

Like most areas, these rivers have had a difficult summer and early autumn with low rainfall. But there has been a change.

Gerry Doucet of the Antigonish Rivers Association notes:

The remnants of Hurricane Nate passed over Nova Scotia Monday night and Tuesday bringing much needed rain. Rainfall amounts varied along the Northumberland Shore ranging between 20 to 40 mm. As all rivers systems (River Phillip, East River, Waugh River, West River Pictou, and West River Antigonish) are at critically low water levels. A burst of water in Late September provided a river rise allowing some salmon to move forward but the majority are still waiting to come.

On Tuesday there were some reported hookups in rising dirty water.

The majority of the fish remain in tidal areas and are moving back and forth with the Harvest Moon tides.

West River Antigonish, looking upstream from Columbus Field, on Tues., Oct. 10, 2017.   Photo Gerry Doucet


Forest backdrop to the Margaree during the rain on Tuesday afternoon - from West Big Intervale Road. Photo Greg Lovely

Greg Lovely notes:

The Margaret river is on the rise and those stubborn salmon that have been in the river for a while may start taking a fly again. Fish are being hooked daily up and down the river. The Fall colors this year are beautiful, and have aligned perfectly time-wise with the Celtic Colors Festival and Flies, Lies and Fiddles put on by the Pieroway Rod Company. DFO is counting fish way down river and fresh fish are coming in on each tide.

Brook Pool on the Northeast Margaree River in the mid-1960s. There is no angling from the road side of the river, and hasn't been for many years. It is reported that in the past cars were actually hooked by casting anglers according to ASF's Lewis Hinks. Photo from ASF Archives

The same BROOK POOL, as the image above, but taken late on 11 Oct. 2017. Note the changed gravels and sand. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

LaHave and Sackville Rivers

The Sept. 30 numbers have now been posted by DFO for the counting fences on these rivers. Although numbers remain low, both these rivers have seen a major increase in grilse numbers this year. The LaHave especially  is heartening, with such a massive improvement in grilse.


DFO's count to Oct. 1 is now up, with little change.


Hughes Brook in western Newfoundland on Wed., Oct. 11, 2017, showing fall colours. Photo Don Ivany/ASF

Water levels are high on the Humber River. In Corner Brook there were two days of rain on the long weekend, with some mist and drizzle for part of Tuesday as well, according to ASF's Don Ivany.

Lift Off! In a warmer season, Bill Bryden caught the perfect moment on the Lower Humber.
Photo Bill Bryden

Steady Brook Shoals on the Lower Humber River on Wed., Oct. 11, 2017. Photo Don Ivany/ASF


Ken McLean gave a personal overview of the salmon season on the Gander River:

Fishing on the Gander this fall was tough. Did most of my fishing at First Pond Bar and Sunshine Pool where I have had success in the past. Saw lots of dark fish but the sprinkling of fresh run jacks did not materialize. Had two or three lazy rises from the dark fish each trip but no hook ups since the start of the fishery after the 7 Sept.

Water was warm and low well into September. In the last week of September the water cooled and the river rose slightly. I saw no fish at Sunshine Pool last Monday after the water rose. The odd angler I encountered had the same experience.
Went to Top Pool at Glenwood for a day in early October, and saw no fish. Given the decline in the salmon runs this year the poor fishing in fall was not a surprise.

General Overview - Should there be live release only in 2018 until a mid-season assessment?

Should Newfoundland go for live release angling only for the first half of the 2018 season, with a mid-season assessment before any retention fishery is allowed? Undoubtedly there is considerable discussion going on, with as many perspectives as there are those connected with Atlantic salmon in Newfoundland.


There have been a few updates to Atlantic salmon counts on the state's website.

Penobscot -

Milford Fish Lift is reporting 524 large salmon and 309 grilse to Oct. 9.

Orono is reporting 8 large salmon and 1 grilse.

Thus in total for the Penobscot there have been 842 salmon - a nice improvement over last year.

Kennebec - Lockwood Dam is reporting 35 large salmon and 3 grilse to Oct. 2

Of concern is that no salmon were found in the counting facilities of the Androscoggin this year.

Ducktrap River, a small Atlantic salmon stream located north of Camden, ME, and flowing into Penobscot Bay. Photo Tom Moffatt/ASF