Exquisite Timing

Is a still image better than a video? You decide.

Geneviève Fournier releases a beautiful salmon at Offie Pool on the York River. Photo from Geneviève Fournier

The picture above is a combination of excellent composition, colour, and focus on an Atlantic salmon being released to continue its upstream migration.

Now check out the video of the same fish - and decide which you prefer.


Salmon on the dog days of summer

Unlike humans, salmon do not have a coronary artery in their hearts. Instead they rely solely on blood pumping through to supply heart tissue with oxygen. This means they recover slower that humans do from physical exertion. As temperatures warm, the level of dissolved oxygen in the water decreases, meaning it takes salmon even longer to catch their breath after hard exercise.

A thermometer should be part of every anglers tool kit. If water temperatures hit 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Farenheit), people should consider resting the pool, and the fish. Any time you're fishing, warm or cold water, it's important to keep salmon in the water as you're unhooking them for release. Otherwise they cannot breath at all.

More Closures on Miramichi

As of today, many of the cold water pools on the Miramichi are closed again due to water levels and temperatures. On the Miramichi, DFO endeavours to both close and open pools and river sections as quickly as possible following changes of conditions. Go to the following for the latest:



Labrador is not like any other part of North America when it comes to Atlantic salmon. One day temperatures can be scorching hot for the salmon angler, and the next day, even in summer, it can be snowing.

Labrador is also scantly covered by counting fences. The numbers of rivers monitored is less than what is needed to under stand salmon population dynamics in the area.

This week we have the July 30 results for the four streams in all of Labrador assessed by DFO:

There should be a level of concern for the reduced number of large salmon returning to the Sand Hill River. This river certainly has great variation year to year, but those large salmon are critical when it comes to raising egg density on the spawning beds.

There are so many great rivers in Labrador, each with its own character - and seemingly often with its own water level and temperature.

Dwight Lethbridge of Pratt Falls Lodge on the Eagle River has this note as of Thursday:

Over the last 10 days we have seen quite a downturn in fishing success.  The last group average about a fish a day from July 26th to July 31st.  Big change from the five a day average the five days before.  The river had hit a prime water level but a combination of slack tides and a rise in the river of about a foot over 24 hrs on Sunday/Monday seemingly emptied the lower Eagle for a couple of days.  Our current guests had a dry first day and started hooking fish again yesterday when the river stopped rising.  This area had precipitation 24 out of 30 days of June, and 27 out of 31 days of July, so it has been difficult to tell what has run in with such little holding water.

Tides are building again now, hopefully the rain stays away and if that happens we are expecting some good fishing.  Reports from the aboriginal food fishery on the coast are that there are still plenty of salmon on the headlands.

Meanwhile, on the Flowers River, Mike Crosby says:

Flowers river is in full swing. Water conditions are good after we had a raise of water. The return of multi-sea winter fish is above average, as is their size. We have already had more than 25 fish landed over 20 pounds, several over 30 and have fished over some that our guides estimated were in the 49-pound class. Our grilse have just started to show up.

A 43 in. hen salmon brought in on July 31 on the Flowers River. Photo credit: Mike Crosby

On the Hawke River, Mike Crosby has this to say:

Our camp at Hawke River is now closed and has what we would call an average season. The fish were late but came in good numbers when they showed up. A good number of multi sea winter fish and average grilse runs in the Hawke.


River of Ponds is one of the many wonderful rivers to fish up the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland. Like most rivers in that part of the province it has not been affected by warm water closures as of Aug. 2, 2017. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

A great number of Island of Newfoundland rivers remain closed because of warm water conditions. The only way to keep track of this is to consult the in-season page regularly at:

What impact is this having? Certainly it was necessary for the Atlantic salmon, but it had the undesired effect of forcing many anglers to concentrate on those river remaining open, and this has been noticed by some of our observers. The level of frustration is certainly there.

Rick Madigan  has this to say about the situation:

All Avalon rivers have been closed for almost 2 weeks. Rained hard two days ago, and some are up in level, with temperatures nice and cool. But DFO will not reopen them. I won't repeat what some of the anglers are saying.

Meanwhile, the July 30 numbers are out, and there has been no mid-season surge of fish that many hoped for.

DFO has completed a mid-season assessment of populations in Newfoundland and Labrador, and scientists have recommended closing the retention fishery for the remainder of the season. However, no DFO decision to act has been reached as of Aug. 2.

Fred Parson of ERMA on the Exploits River notes:

As of July 31 there have been 13,734 Atlantic salmon, and that is something more than 7,000 fewer than last year. We have also noticed the number of Atlantic salmon coming in is dropping, so it is likely the run is just not late. Also have noticed that with the river closures the angling pressure has increased on those rivers remaining open.

Barb Genge of Tuckamore Lodge, far up the Northern Peninsua has this to say about conditions:

Lots of salmon but they are getting smarter now.  Temperature today is chilly, it cools down every evening.  This has been one cold summer except for one week. I hope we don't have summer in Sept. when the hunt is on.

I just have one guy fishing today. He is from Maine, and his Labrador trip got cancelled so he is spending time with us.  He said yesterday that he was at First Southwest and the Forks. He noted there are lots of salmon but they weren't taking but it was also windy again.

Castor River, another of the Northern Peninsula gems. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF


Jerome Letourneau releasing an Atlantic salmon in the Cascapedia River.

Charles Cusson, ASF Director of Programs in Quebec
, notes:

At the half-way point of the 2017 season, counts by way of in-river assessments and data from fish counting infrastructure has been tabulated to determine if numbers indicate a limited harvest can take place as of August 1.  Most rivers are reporting very low water conditions, and any rain in the near future would be a very good thing.

As of August 1, harvests of LARGE SALMON have been authorized as per the management plan on the following rivers: Cap-Chat, Dartmouth (Quota of 35 fish), Madeleine (Quota of 50 fish), Sainte-Anne, York (Quota of 35 fish) in the Gaspé, Matane and Matapedia in the Lower Saint-Lawrence, Big Mécatina, Napetipi, Saint-Paul and Old Fort on the lower North Shore.

Please report your releases, the information is vital to have an accurate success rates for the river you fish.

* Currently, the retention licence comes with 7 tags.  In 2018, the new licence structure should be in place with 4 tags (1 salmon and 3 grilse) along with the Live Release licence and a 3-day licence.

Striped Bass Encounters

There have been numerous reports of Striped Bass (Morone saxilitis) being observed and angled by people on wild Atlantic salmon rivers this summer.  Landings are being reported from estuaries to pool far upstream.  A Striped Bass was observed at the “13.5” mile pool on the Moisie River recently.

According to a Journal de Montréal article, the MFFP (Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs) will undertake studies on the Matapedia, Cascapedia and unnamed rivers on the North Shore and in the Saguenay region.  No timeframe on when these studies would start has been announced to date.

Striped Bass landed in fresh water environments must be released by law in Quebec. The harvest of two bass per day in salt water is authorized by the MFFP until the end of October in the southern Gaspé region (zone 21).

The Quebec government is inviting anglers to report their encounters at the following web address: http://www.cdpnq.gouv.qc.ca/formulaires/form_faune_p3.asp

Striped Bass caught in Restigouche River, with stomach contents including three Atlantic salmon parr. Photo Greg Dixon

The photos has everything - great live release technique, wonderful river, and a happy  person. Jerome Letourneau landed two salmon, one 15 lb and the other 12 lb at Pool 80 on the Cascapedia River on July 18.

New Brunswick

More Closures on Miramichi

As in most other areas, rain would be welcome, and some rivers are extremely low. As of today (Aug. 3), many of the cold water pools on the Miramichi are closed again due to water levels and temperatures. On the Miramichi, DFO endeavours to both close and open pools and river sections as quickly as possible following changes of conditions.

Go to the following for the latest:

The July 31 results are out for most DFO counting facilities in N.B. Remembering that these are generally samples of tributaries (in the case of fences) or a small but predictable percentage of returning salmon (as in trapnets), the comparisons from year to year are very important in understanding the salmon run dynamics.

The Miramichi trapnet numbers are rather unsettling, when looking at the large salmon. Remembering that both 2017 and 2016 are at the lower end of numbers for returns, it may indicate there is indeed a drop in the important large salmon spawners, and it should raise concerns.

The barrier numbers on both the Northwest Miramichi (NW Barrier) and the Southwest Miramichi (Dungarvon Barrier) should raise a few eyebrows on the grilse number declines. It is still rather early to argue over "late" vs. "nonexistent" for those grilse.

Brock Curtis of Curtis Miramichi Outfitters notes:

I have better news this week. While our cold water pools were open , in places the low water pools seemed to be fishing quite well. We had a nice run of grilse and the comments from anglers were, "they seem to be of a healthy and larger size and were taking quite well". Rivers still remain low but early mornings and evenings are producing fish. We need rain and this seems to be the general comment we are hearing from anglers from all over the East Coast. We are also getting the same comments from our canoeists. The water is low but they are seeing salmon jumping quite often along the river. Once again, if we could get the much needed rain it would make a big difference for our rivers.

The low water issues are also on the mind of Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures:

Water levels are at August dig days low. Temperatures at night are going down as low as 40's F / below 10 C, so this gives the salmon a break for survival. There are very positive reports of some good numbers. We caught fish last week and are seeing fish as we angle.

Hopefully the most recent closures (Aug. 3) will be lifted soon.

St. John River

How LOW can it go? The Nashwaak River on July 26 was at extremely low flow. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

The numbers at Mactaquac and on the Nashwaak remain critically low.

It is encouraging that the numbers of large salmon did not drop particularly, but the grilse numbers are a fraction of those in 2016, already a low year.

Nathan Wibur, ASF Director for New Brunswick Programs had a few general notes for this week:

I have had mixed reports from the Upsalquitch, some folks got skunked and some hooked up. Other than that, not many people out on the water due to the low water conditions, but the cold nights last week and over the weekend were a blessing for the salmon, and enough to lift the closure of the cold water pools on the Miramchi system.

Almost like a 19th century print - the Nepisiquit with an angler in the background and an alert dog close by. Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Nathan Wilbur adds this comment on the Nepisiguit:

Salmon have been jumping in the bay just out from the mouth of the Nepisiguit River, and I presume they are waiting for the right water to enter the river. Nonetheless, the cold nights have resulted in decent water temperatures on the river and there are a few fish coming in.

Nova Scotia

Margaree - Alex Breckenridge of THE TYING SCOTSMAN notes that the water is very low, and while there have been some rain showers in the past few days, the river level goes right back down. A few Atlantic salmon have come in to the Margaree with the water.

The DFO counts are in, and make interesting reading:

Very unusual for this year, in Nova Scotia rivers the grilse numbers are vastly improved. In the case of the LaHave River, the rise is phenomenal.

It is interesting that numbers are improved in these southern salmon range rivers in Nova Scotia, and also in Maine.


The returns have been encouraging in Maine so far in 2017, although the Penobscot run is coming to its end.

The Penobscot numbers, a combination of those at Milford Fish Lift and at Orono, are by a wide margin the best since 2011.

The Narraguagus has just surpassed the Kennebec, although most of this Downeast river's returns are grilse, not large salmon.

The Kennebec returns themselves are encouraging - and hopefully can be built on.

Saco River in Crawford Notch, in New Hampshire's White Mountains. Photo Ken Gallagher

Even the seven Atlantic salmon in the Saco River are great to see. This river's lower reaches are in southwest Maine, but it extends up into the White Mountains in New Hampshire, with headwaters amidst spectacular scenery.