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 Black Bear Chases Angler Across Salmon Pool on Margaree

Black bear swimming. Greg Lovely experienced one swimming after him across a salmon pool on the Margaree on Saturday. Photo Cephas/Wikipedia

Greg Lovely is well known to readers of ASF RIVERNOTES. He is a passionate salmon angler and salmon conservationist who spends as much time on his home river as he can.

"I am quite used to seeing black bears when I am out. I make sure they know where I am, and we both continue about our business quite comfortably".

Etheridge Salmon Pool, as photographed July 24, looking from the north to south shore of the pool.

There was a very different experience this past Saturday.

"I was salmon angling on the Etheridge Pool, when a black bear appeared looked at me and began charging towards me. I yelled at it and made noise and it just kept coming," said Greg.

"In addition to my salmon angling gear I had my backpack, and I quickly put it on and began wading out into the salmon pool. I was on the north side, and my car was up on the d-shaped road access on the south side. I waded quickly, and the bear came into the water and then was swimming towards me. It was deep enough I went over the top of my waders, and just kept going. I made noise but it didn't deter the animal.

Map of a segment of the Northeast Margaree showing the location of Etheridge Pool. From Margaree Salmon Association's map of the river's pools and other features.

"I made it up the other side" and ran as fast as I could up the shore and to the line of trees where a trail goes through to where the car was parked, and got in as fast as I could. But the bear only came up as far as the top of the shore.

Photo at right of Greg Lovely doing volunteer field work with the Margaree Salmon Association.

"It then turned downstream and disappeared in the woods. There were others fishing downstream towards Wash Pool that I yelled a warning to. Also, a group of tubers about to put in at Etheridge Pool I warned about the bear. The guy fishing downstream later said he never saw the bear, but his dog became very excited.

It didn't take long for the story of Greg's bear encounter to be a hot topic of conversation around western Cape Breton.

Bruce Murphy, wildlife technician for NS Natural Resources, based at Wycocomagh was well aware of it on Tuesday.

"This is the only incident I have heard of where a salmon angler was involved. But this year there have been more bear sightings in western Cape Breton, and we have either relocated or euthanized five or six. One factor may be that it was an extremely cold late spring, and the abundance of berries is way down. Without the smaller food supply, it may be driving some of these interactions in 2018.

To Greg Lovely, this hasn't quenched his passion for Atlantic salmon and the Margaree in the least. He views the incident as an unusual and possibly unique experience. Certainly few other tales related to salmon anglers have come to the attention of ASF Rivernotes' editor. A few unusual episodes in Quebec, and the warnings spread this year of polar bears in Labrador found far inland.  But in none of these cases did any interaction with a salmon angler actually materialize.

As to how to handle such an experience, Greg Lovely handled it in a very sensible manner. Most references suggest it is better to make noise and try to make yourself look big, and if possible to back off in a reasonable manner. In this case the surprise was the black bear choosing to swim across the river following Greg.

Asked Thursday morning, if he would do anything differently, Greg replied:

"No, I can't think of a single thing I would do differently, given the same set of circumstances on the encounter with another black bear."

Another view from early this week of the Etheridge Salmon Pool on the Margaree River. Photo Greg Lovely


Greg Lovely reports that Margaree conditions continue to get warmer, and water levels dropping. Much more water is needed to bring things back up. But like many others, he also reports sightings of many salmon in the river, indicating it could well be a good year overall.

Cheticamp -

René Aucon echoes similar sentiments on the conditions, as for the Margaree, and reminds us of the Cheticamp's character:

This is high summer for us and on a smaller river like‎ the Cheticamp, fish only run in Spring, late May to early July and again in October depending on the rains. In brief, the river would not be fished at this time of the year unless a significant rainfall and cool springlike temperatures were to happen. The Fall run is usually in small run usually only fished by a few of the locals.


ASF's Don Ivany, Director of Programs for Newfoundland and Labrador, says:

Angler Shane Flight, reports that despite fairly good fishing conditions on the Serpentine River this past week-end there was a very poor sign of fish in the river and most pools were simply empty of fish.

Fishing on other rivers that remain open have slowed as water temperatures have slowly climbed and water levels have dropped.

One river bucking the low warm water trend on the Island is the Gander which currently has good water levels and cool temperatures.  In fact, the Gander is currently on the high side for fishing, but reports are that anglers are still enjoying some success on this river at the moment, just the same. 

The big news in NL this past week is that the hot sunny weather we have been experiencing on the Island for the past couple of weeks has led to very low water levels and warm water temperatures, prompting DFO to close many rivers throughout the Island in the past few days to all angling.  Anglers should consult with DFO for the latest closures.  The good news is that there is lots of rain in the forecast along with cooler temperatures for the remainder of the week, so with a little luck some of the closed rivers may reopen as conditions slowly improve.

DFO had a notice Tues. on closures:

2018-191Jul. 24, 2018
Salmon Rivers Closing in Zone 3 and 14
ADFO advises anglers that due to extremely high water temperatures and/or extremely low water levels, the following rivers will close effective one hour after sunset on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. Rivers will reopen as conditions improve.

Zone 3
17.  Western Brook, Hare Bay
19. Easter Brook, Canada Bay
20. Northeast Brook, Canada Bay

Zone 14a1
59. Portland Creek Feeder & tributary streams
164. Castor River, including Southwest Feeder
165.  St. Genevieve River, Ten Mile Lake, Round Lake an all their tributaries flowing into Ten Mile Lake and Round Lake
166. West River, St. Barbe
167. East River, St. Barbe
168.  Big Brook, St. Barbe170. Pinsent's Brook, Pistolet Bay
171. Parkers River (West Brook), Pistolet Bay
172. Bartlett's Brook & tributary streams, Pistolet Bay
173.  Upper Brook, Milan Arm, Pistolet Bay

For more information please visit the In Season River Status Report at
http://www.nfl.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/NL/River-Status/In-Season or call the Angling Line at 709-772-4423.

PARKS CANADA on Monday closed many rivers in Gros Morne National Park.

Atlantic salmon in lower Humber River in a previous year. Beautiful light in a slightly tannic river. Photo Bill Bryden

As usual, DFO in NL has done an excellent job of publicly sharing in a timely manner the counts obtained at their facilities. DFO in NL is lightyears ahead of DFO in Gulf and Maritimes region in posting the results on the web.

As noted in the official mid-season DFO review for the Island of Newfoundland, the signs are of a continued decline. In DFO’s mid-season assessment, they noted that 80% of rivers showed a decline of more than 30% in total returns compared with the recent 5-year average, and spawning escapement was below the limit for 9 of 15 rivers.


Don Ivany notes:

Labrador has also been experiencing some very hot weather for the past week or so, but rain and cooler temperatures in the past couple of days are helping to keep fishing conditions pretty good.  For example, water levels are near perfect on the Eagle River currently and water temperatures are good resulting in excellent fishing.

A combination of large grilse, and large salmon (upwards of 30 lbs), have been hooked in the past few days on the Eagle. 

As some people may know a guide in the Eagle River area lost his live last week in an unfortunate boating accident on the river when the boat flipped over.  So we remind all anglers to wear a life jacket when fishing from a boat.

Also, DFO will be conducting an in-season review of Labrador Rivers as of today (July 24).   An announcement flowing from this in-season review is expected within the next week.  Until then anglers fishing in Labrador are permitted to use their first tag up to August 03. 

The official counts are out for July 22 as well:

We all look forward to the DFO assessment for Labrador.


Miramichi -

Southwest Miramichi.

The July 22 numbers were emailed around, with Dungarvon reporting 62 grilse and 49 MSW salmon compared with 75 grilse and 113 MSW salmon to the same date in 2017. While there are certainly salmon around in the Southwest Miramichi, the numbers are not huge.

Brock Curtis notes:

Last Tuesday we had a good rain that bumped the river up a bit but not enough to insulate it against this week's temperatures. It quickly dropped and water temperatures continue to remain high. Yesterday DFO announced a variation order to close the rivers between 11:01 AM and 6:00 AM, so morning fishing only now.

 I am thinking this might be a good thing not only for the salmon but the angler too.

Rain is in the forecast for Thursday and Friday night is a full moon. Maybe we will see some fresh fish enter the system. Quite a few anglers are around and today we had the guys from HOOKE in doing a video on the river. The Salmon are here we just need cooler temperatures.

There is a lot of talk about the video Miramichi Salmon Association has out.

 It discusses the striped bass numbers. Core people involved in the angling industry here on the river are interviewed giving their opinion of how they feel about what is happening to the river because of the bass. This has been a concern of the locals for some time as it is felt the bass are a threat to our salmon angling industry and wild Atlantic salmon as a whole. This is a challenge for our conservation groups. We can only hope something will be done soon.

Northwest Miramichi

The Northwest Barrier count for July 22 counts 48 grilse and 98 large salmon. The grilse nmber is just above half of last year's 98 to this date and 87 large. These numbers are well down when compared with recent 5-year averages.

As of last week, grilse numbers were down 94% compared to a good year like 2011, and down 35% compared to even a benchmark poor year like 2014. MSW’s are somewhat better, being down 80% compared to 2011 but only 2.6% compared to 2014. As always, there can be a great change when cooler, wetter conditions prevail, which could happen in the remainder of the season



In Maine's Penobscot River, there have been measured at the Milford Fish Lift 463 msw and 271 grilse, totaling 734. This is slightly below the 807 counted by approximately the same date last year, but still ahead of any other year since 2011. At the moment the warmer temperatures have meant many salmon are not handled.

The Milford Fish Lift has had to cope with very warm water in recent days. Photo Sarah Bailey/NOAA


As of a week ago removal began on the Coopers Mills Dam at Whitefield, ME. The Sheepscot is one of ASF's target rivers for improving passage for native species of fish.

In the case of Coopers Mills, the low water has been a benefit for the construction work required. Photo John Burrows/ASF


At the time of writing (Wed., July 25), water levels are still extremely low and water temperatures on the high side on most rivers.  But a glimmer of hope is falling from the sky with more rain to fall during the days ahead.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed. 

Some rivers in the Saguenay and North Shore regions have been closing when conditions have become too extreme for their salmon.

Reminder to anglers fishing Quebec Rivers, take the time to report your releases to have the most accurate angling statistics and for the river managers to accurately calculate angling success.

With warmer water conditions being the norm, please keep the amount of time your fish is on the line to a minimum (if you can hook up) and please keep them in the water during the entire release process.  There is no pre-set amount of time inscribed to release a fish, it will tell you when it’s ready to go.

A reminder that the sources of information for these Quebec RIVERNOTES are various river websites, social media pages and Quebec government web pages.

York, Dartmouth and St-Jean Rivers
Results as of July 25 are available at:

Atlantic salmon in the Grande R., Gaspé, Whenever water temperatures rise, Atlantic salmon do everything possible to stay near cool water springs, and to reduce activity when possible. Gravel Agency and ASF.

Cascapedia River

Quentin Condo of the Micmac Camp is reporting slower angling compared to the week of July 16, but guests are still recording releases in the log book every day. He goes on to say:

Striped Bass also are still showing up.  We caught a bass in Old Tracadie pool last week and I caught two right in front of camp.

As to the salmon migration, earlier this week I was canoeing with my mom and we spotted four bright fish in front of camp, so they’re still coming in.

Recent rain is encouraging - and more is needed.

Adams Pool on the Matapedia River plays host to French anglers from Nice. Photo Normand Desmeules

Des Escoumins with a heartening increase in flow in the past couple of days

The du Gouffre river is situated approximately 100 kilometers north of Québec city, in the Charlevoix region. It is 72 kms long and flows into St-Lawrence river in Baie St-Paul. The Gouffre is the second most westerly river which contains wild Atlantic salmon river and open to angling in North America. 

De Gouffre River Photo Stéphane Batigne/Wikipedia