ASF Rivernotes July 22, 2016


In many regions the 2016 season has proved challenging conditions for those out on the rivers. Not only have there been significant periods of high water, but in some cases the rise of water has been extremely fast. Recently ASF’s Steve Sutton made his annual pilgrimage to Newfoundland’s Main River, and found such a situation, where normal conditions almost immediately turned into dangerous ones. Water levels rose exceedingly rapidly.

As Steve notes, "One could easily be out on the river and so focused on the fish as to miss the fact the water was rising many cm. per minute, creating a dangerous situation.

Misery Point  on Newfoundland's Main River during low water (left) and high water (right). The Main River watershed is known for having one of the last areas of original growth forest on the island.

As for the salmon fishing on the Main, Steve Sutton says:

Arrived at Main River/Sop’s Arm on the evening of June 28th, 2016, to a river that was low and warm, and to the sight of water bombers flying overhead and smoke filling the river valley from a forest fire in the upper watershed. The crews got the fire out, but the unseasonably warm and dry weather over the previous week didn’t leave much room for optimism about fishing conditions for the week ahead. But boy can things change in a hurry!

The next day: rain, and lots of it, sending the river into the trees and dropping the water temperature to a cool 13 C.  The weather for the next week was cold and wet – great fishing weather if you can stand the chill. Fishing was spotty at first as the fish were moving through pretty fast on the high water, and much of the river was unfishable. But fishing improved steadily over the next week as the water dropped and anglers were able to access more of the river.

The first week of July saw a good run of grilse enter the river, with good numbers of fresh fish moving through the pools on a regular basis every day. Main River doesn’t have the largest grilse around, but they sure can be aggressive when they first enter fresh water, especially when the water is high and cold! All in all, I would say another year of good returns to the Main, following the spectacular runs of 2015.

The returns to July 17, 2016 have been posted by DFO, and they also make interesting reading.

On the east side of the norther portion of the Northern Peninsula, Barb Genge of Tuckamore Lodge notes the water and salmon are fine.

Rivers are in great shape, with lots of cold water and good salmon numbers.  The fishing is great, - all I can say it is wonderful fishing. It may be cold but the Atlantic salmon love it.

Dave Vardy releases a salmon on the Castor River, northern Newfoundland, in mid-July. Photo: Don Ivany/ASF

Don Ivany, returning from a fast visit to Labrador, reported that the river levels were dropping in the rivers of the Northern Peninsula and the salmon angling was not as good as it was a week earlier.

The Torrent River numbers are excellent, but Ivany notes that as the water is dropping there are more salmon showing new scars, potentially an issue related to the fishway.

He also notes that the Humber was again slowing down as water levels are dropping, and temperature of water is now around 22 C. He also mentions that some fish have been found in the lower Humber.

Elsewhere in the west coast area of NL, the North Branch of the Codroy has been doing well, and Harry's River had been good, but the effect of dropping water levels was now telling. Looking at the fishway counts, and in the case of the Harry's a Didson Unit count, the totals for the year are coming more in line with last year's.

Several superb returns are showing up:

The Terra Nova is doing exceedingly well with its 2,523, and Western Arm Brook with 1,179 to July 17.

In the centre portion of the province water levels have continued high on rivers including the Exploits and the Gander, and for the most part the fish are "scooting" right on up stream.

One rebuilt run is worth special notice - Cornerbrook Stream that had 22 salmon in one day, bringing the total to 72, or possibly more by this time. This was a stream without salmon a generation ago.


Ladies Pool, Forteau
Ladies Pool on the Forteau River, July 13, 2016. Plenty of Atlantic salmon here. Photo Don Ivany/ASF

ASF's Don Ivany visited the Forteau on July 13, and the Pinware on July 14 and 15 and has these notes:

On the Forteau there were a fair number of fish, and that included some large salmon. The week just prior had been especially good. Now water was dropping and temperatures rising.

The Pinware had many fish, but the water was low, and starting to get warm. For the first time ever, I was able to wade across the river.

Forks of the Pinware
Playing one at the Forks of the Pinware River, Labrador in mid-July, 2016. Photo Don Ivany/ASF

The Sand Hill has had 308 grilse and 508 large salmon to July 17, vs. 474 grilse and 376 large salmon in 2015. Definitely a large salmon year for the Sand Hill.

On the other hand, Muddy Bay Brook has had 54 grilse and 5 large salmon to July 17, 2016, vs. 31 grilse and 6 large salmon in 2015, definitely a different story than the Sand Hill's.

Nova Scotia

Margaree - Greg Lovely notes:

To say we need water is an understatement. There are fish in the river with a few being hooked.With the days getting as hot as they have, first thing in the morning is when the most activity is happening. Small flies and "bugs" are what I have seen working the best.

Bill Haley
echoes those observations:

During the past week we have only had a few rain showers. Water levels are approaching typical summer conditions and the water temperature rose to 20 C .  A few salmon are still being hooked daily, as are some good sized brown trout. As you will hear when speaking to anglers on the river, we are in need of rain.

- DFO's July 15 count for Morgan Falls has some disturbing numbers - 3 grilse, vs 130 in 2015 and 579 for the 1993-1997 average. Has something happened at sea? As to large salmon, there have been 30 this year vs 14 last year and 139 for the 1993-1997 average.

Sackville River - There have been 9 grilse and 2 large salmon to July 15, vs 22 grilse and 2 large salmon in 2015. Again, major drop in grilse numbers.

New Brunswick

Preparing to go out at Larry's Gulch on the Restigouche.

Northwest Branch
- The Northwest Cassilis Trapnet reports 145 grilse and 100 large salmon to July 15, vs 346 grilse and 94 large salmon in 2015.

The Northwest Barrier is reporting 92 grilse and 48 large salmon to July 17, compared with 119 grilse and 52 large salmon in 2015.

Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures

River has cooled as a result of cool evenings. Water level is good and we are enjoying good catching.

Mile 30 Pool, North Pole Stream
Mile 30 Pool, North Pole Stream, looking upriver. July, 2016 Geoff Giffin/ASF

Southwest Miramichi
- The Millerton trapnet appears to be doing well, with 409 grilse and 269 large salmon to July 15, vs. 218 grilse and 168 large salmon last year to the same date.

The Dungarvon Barrier, with numbers to July 17, has 76 grilse and 69 large salmon, vs 2015 run of 81 grilse and 94 large salmon.

Water temperatures are on the rise. On Thurs., July 21 the water temperature reached 24 C, with last night's water temp. of 19 C. at the monitoring station at Doaktown.

Brock Curtis of Blackville notes the following:

 Last week we saw quite a few anglers coming into the Tackle Shop with stories of catching salmon and seeing a lot of fish. I angled every day and it was obvious we were getting bright fish coming in on a daily basis. Some of the clubs and lodges reported up to 16 salmon being landed.

By Friday the heat wave had slowed things down quite a bit. The river rose on Saturday as we had rain in the headwaters. This cooled the river down and this week we have had cooler evenings and days. We are getting reports of salmon being caught on the Dungarvon and Miramichi.

Everyone is hoping with a full moon and cooler weather we will see more bright fish coming in. Conditions seem to be good so should hear of more anglers hooking up with the big ones.T hings seem to be shaping up for a good week ahead of us.

Evening of July 19, 2016 on the Southwest Miramichi at Boiestown. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Reports about striped bass:
Last week we asked for reports of large striped bass being found above Blackville, and indeed we had about eight separate reports, some noting there were multiple fish and not just at Boiestown, but a number of kilometres above that. Keep sending reports of striped bass sightings far upstream.

St. John River -  Mactaquac - to July 18, there have been 417 grilse, 143 large salmon (typically to this date over the past 10 years, 55% of the grilse run has entered and 61% of the salmon run has entered).

Nashwaak - to July 18 - 219 grilse, 32 large salmon (typically to this date over the past 10 years, 24% of the grilse run has entered and 25% of the large salmon run has entered).

Something important to note about the St. John River:

DFO reported that somewhere between Mactaquac and Tobique Narrows dam there is netting going on. Fish are arriving at Mactaquac in pristine condition and by the time they get to Tobique some of them have bad net marks on them. Please report to DNR or DFO if you see signs of netting/poaching on the St. John River. These few returning fish are too valuable to be disrespected like this.

Restigouche River -

At Larry's Gulch the fish have been coming in and the log book is ahead of last year.

Mirror of the Restigouche - imaged last week. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

Upsalquitch - The Upsalquitch Barrier is up, but hopefully indicates runs are late, as the numbers are much lower this year. To July 17, there have been 80 grilse and 64 large salmon, down from 2015's 139 grilse and 80 large salmon at the same date.


Rain that seemed to be in short supply has poured down in certain areas - but not in others

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

** Data used in the Quebec river notes are sourced from various river websites, social media and Quebec government sources.

York, Dartmouth and St-Jean Rivers

Results as of July 13 are available at:


The in-river count was performed on the York on July 10.  The number of salmon counted (810) seems to indicate enough abundance to continue harvest until August 31.  Quota of fish is not available at this time.

Patapedia River

On July 1, due to the lack of scientific data, the CGRMP has therefore decided to continue live release of large salmon until season end on August 31.  This decision was taken in accordance with the new Quebec 10 year salmon management plan.


Penobscot - The temperatures are rising, generally 23 C to 25 C. There have been 505 Atlantic salmon at Milford's Fish Lift as of July 20.

Kennebec - As of same date, 35 large salmon and 3 grilse; and on the Androscoggin 7 large salmon and no grilse.

Downeast, in the Narraguagus there have been only 3 large salmon and no grilse.