Resetting the Button on Personal Perspective

Last Friday Henrik Mortensen landed a nice 15-pounder at Long Pool on the Bonaventure. He shows great live release technique here.

Last Friday Henrik Mortensen landed a nice 15-pounder at Long Pool on the Bonaventure. He shows great live release technique here.

Everyone needs a reset button. A time and place that puts life back in perspective, that puts stress in the back pocket for a while. This is a time and place to reconnect with what is important in life, and to feel the ebb and flow of the natural world. As we said, a reset button.

That is exactly what salmon angling offers. It may be entirely calm and pensive, when nothing is biting. Or it may be an adrenalin rush when the line zings out of a reel and doesn’t want to stop. Either way, it works as a reset button.

This coming weekend should be the perfect complement to this. Across much of Atlantic Canada and Quebec the weather is supposed to be clear with warmish days, and cool nights, and with many rivers at excellent flows for good angling. Better August days should be hard to find.


New Brunswick


Atlantic salmon information stretching back decades is like gold. It is in limited supply, and is worthy of time to ferret it out. It also gives context for what we see on the rivers this year. Larry’s Gulch is a case in point. It is entirely live release now, and manager Mark Ramsey firmly believes that has contributed to their success in recent years. Below are the up-to-date monthly totals for grilse and large salmon for the entire period from 2013 back to 1971.

Larry's Gulch salmon angled over the past 43 years.

Larry’s Gulch salmon angled over the past 43 years.

The 2013 monthly numbers reflect the general consensus tht grilse numbers are down when compared to last year, with large salmon numbers up significantly. Undoubtedly a close examination would bring out many observations, but one that comes to mind is the low in 1983 which corresponds to lows found in other rivers, as far away as the Penobscot.

Fishing the Restigouche on Aug. 3, 2013. Photo Geoff Giffin

Fishing the Restigouche on Aug. 3, 2013. Photo Geoff Giffin

The Upsalquitch numbers show the predicted story, with 302 large salmon in 2013, vs. 243 in 2012. The grilse numbers are actually up at the barrier for Aug. 15, with 265 in 2013 vs. 201 in 2012.

Jacquet River – Aug. 15 brought a nice surprise, of 107 large salmon vs. 45 in 2012, and far above the 2005-2009 average of 52. For grilse the story is not so rosy, with 111 this year vs. 119 in 2012. but is still ahead of the 2005-2009 average of 86.

Nepisiguit – To Aug. 15, there were 43 large salmon against 35 in 2012, and for grilse only 38, vs. 105 for 2012.

Miramichi – Salmon angling should be VERY good for the next week or so. Water remains higher than normal for August, water temperatures remain cool and the weather should be cooperative.

Northwest Miramichi – Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures has this to say:

“Water here is high in all branches but perhaps less high in Northwest. People seeing lots of fish jumping but the salmon are mostly dark. We have been doing some catching-had a young lady from Montreal who was 10 years old hook and land a beautiful 15 pound salmon. Although some of the boys and men in her group caught grilse she definitely caught the biggest. Angling on the North Branch of the Sevogle is reported as good. The nights are cool, so water temperature is good.”

The counting fence has little to report, in the week leading up Aug. 18, with just two grilse, bringing the total to 196 large salmon, vs 122 in 2012, and 141 grilse vs. 136 in 2012.

Paul Elson fishing the South Branch Sevogle River in early August. Photo Howard Gould.

Paul Elson fishing the South Branch Sevogle River in early August. Photo Howard Gould.

Southwest Miramichi – The Dungarvon numbers reflect the general consensus that there are both darker and new, bright large Atlantic salmon travelling upstream, with grilse numbers remaining lower than hoped for. To Aug. 18 there have been 221 large salmon, vs. 107 in 2012. As to grilse, there have been 190, vs. 130 in 2012. Certainly better numbers than 2012, and it is suspected that actual numbers are higher.

Petitcodiac – For the first time this year we are mentioning the Petitcodiac, as it is now reported that at least a few females have been found this year that had laid eggs last autumn. Hopefully in years ahead there will be more of this endangered population, listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

Saint John River – The Aug. 15 counts are finally out and they don’t make great reading. Only 79 large salmon vs. 96 in 2012, and the 2005 to 2009 average being 292, and the 1995 to 1999 average of 1,501. For grilse, there have been 269, a vast improvement over the 83 in 2012, but far below the 2005-2009 average of 992, and a fraction of the 3,615 average 1995-1999.

Nashwaak – The river has not rebounded from last year to the same degree, To. Aug. 15 there have been 30 large salmon vs. 32 in 2012. Grilse have improved, with 52 this year vs. 14 in 2012.

Nova Scotia

Northumberland Strait Rivers – With the season opening on Sept. 1 there is already speculation on what type of season it will be, although the salmon will probably not arrive in numbers until the middle of the month. Likely the season will be better than last year, but we shall see. One caution for all: Do check for black-legged ticks, as there are areas in Pictou County where lyme disease is now endemic, and overall incidence is on the rise. It is worth taking that extra five minutes to do a thorough inspection for the small ticks if you have been walking across a field, or along an overgrown trail to that favourite salmon pool.

Margaree – John Hart is reporting that the water is a bit warm, but there are big salmon around, up the entire length of the river. Yesterday broodstock were collected for the Margaree Hatchery, incidentally.

LaHave – To Aug 19, there have been 104 salmon and 74 grilse. For 2012 we have the Aug. 15 numbers, which were 27 large salmon and 18 grilse, making 2013 a definite winner in the last few years. The 2005-2009 average was 72 large salmon and 349 grilse.


A vast majority of the rivers are reporting very encouraging numbers as we approach the three-quarter’s pole of the season.  The precipitation over the last two weeks has certainly helped the angling success.

Rimouski River

As of August 13, 455 salmon had been counted (302 salmon and 153 grilse) compared to 385 (179 salmon and 206 grilse) for the entire 2012 season at September 30th.

Captures to August 13 include 82 released salmon and 42 retained grilse for a total of 124.  For the entire 2012 season, 33 salmon had been released and 93 grilse had been retained totaling 126.

The Rimouski grilse numbers seem to be reflecting a trend found on most rivers in 2013. Visit the new website at

Matane River

To August 15, 1,519 salmon and 553 grilse had been counted, a total of 2,072 fish.  By the same date in 2012, 1,858 (934 salmon and 924 grilse) migrated through the counting facility.

Reported captures to August 15 are 532 (329 salmon and 203 grilse).  At the same date in 2012 a total of 565 fish had been reported landed (259 salmon and 306 grilse).

Matapedia River

To August 17, for the 2013 season 1,136 fish have been reported landed which includes 140 released.  At the same date in 2012, 699 fish had been reported landed which included 54 releases.

Bonaventure River

To August 17, 949 fish had been reported landed, with 790 salmon released and 159 grilse retained.  In 2012 at the same date, a total of 902 were reported landed (634 salmon released and 268 grilse retained).

For the years 2008 to 2012, the Bonaventure Minimum Spawning Requirement is recorded at:
2008    77%
2009    142%
2010    183%
2011    125%
2012    99%
The five year average for that period translates to 120% of MSR.


Penobscot – Little to report on Atlantic salmon, but the photo below shows the progress made in dismantling the Veazie Dam, the lowermost and greatest barrier on the entire river.

Demolition of the fish ladder on the Veazie Dam in the Penobscot River is an important step in completing the dismantling of the barrier.

Demolition of the fish ladder on the Veazie Dam in the Penobscot River is an important step in completing the dismantling of the barrier.


DFO has not updated barrier counts since Aug. 4.

Humber – Angling has improved a little at Boom Siding on the Lower Humber, with some grilse being caught. However, it appears that the number of large salmon on the Humber this year appears to be down. Water temperatures remain between 18 and 22 C, but are beginning to drop with the cooler nights, so angling conditions should improve over the next week.

Avalon Peninsula Rivers – Don Hustins has reported this week that the fishing has been very good this year in eastern Newfoundland, with far more salmon on the line than in most years.

Northern Peninsula – Water levels remain high in rivers such as the Torrent, Big East, etc., but there appear to be few fish around, and angling is currently on the slow side.


Don Ivany reports –

Water levels have risen quite a bit on rivers in southern Labrador in the past few days due to recent rains, especially on the Eagle River.   Jim Burton is still reporting fantastic fishing on the Flowers River where they are experiencing some of the best angling they have ever witnessed.


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