Take a breath – and hope the runs keep coming

There has been such excitement on the rivers this year, it bubbles over into the online world, and in the smiles on the faces of everyone from anglers to DFO enforcement officers on the rivers. In the saltwater Restigouche people on the shore are coming out to watch the salmon jumping as they move upstream. On the Miramichi, a pedestrian bridge below Wilson’s Camp has become a vantage point for local residents to peer into the water and watch the large salmon moving upstream. There hasn’t been a year like this one in close to a generation.

Before getting to the river reports, some updates on ASF Research Field activities.

ASF Field Research

Acoustic Receiver, Restigouche River

This week staff are waiting for the thunderstorms to pass before pulling up the sonic telemetry receivers to pull in data about smolt movements down rivers and out to sea. There are lines of receivers in the Miramichi, on the Restigouche and out across the Baie des Chaleurs to tend.

Jonathan Carr is assisting DFO with Serpentine River salmon – on questions related to that run.

Meanwhile, if smolt and kelt movements across the Gulf of St. Lawrence are following the same pattern as in the previous half dozen years, they will be passing through the Strait of Belle Isle, between northernmost Newfoundland and Labrador, this week, or possibly early next week.

At the Magaguadavic fishway in St. George, alewives have been working their way up.

Some River Reports

Note: if you are interested in river level data, check out this website, that includes rivers from coast to coast in Canada. Some examples are used in this post:

New Brunswick

Main Southwest Miramichi on a Summer Morning

Miramichi– This is turning into an incredible year on the Miramichi. Reports this morning from ASF’s Regional Director Geoff Giffin, say that the somewhat rising temperatures and slightly dropping water levels have slowed the fishing a bit in the past day or so. But some parties on Crown Reserves, including Charlie’s Rock, Palisades, etc., have been hooking and releasing both grilse and salmon by the 10s most days. One party of four tangled with36 salmon in a 48-hour interval on one Crown Reserve stretch.

MSA Classic is underway, and with rain in last day, it has helped keep temperatures down. With live release now mandated for many stretches of river (see last post), there is concern by some salmon folks that too much pressure will be put on areas allowing retention.

NW Miramichi Barrier – Actual counts are down somewhat from last year, with 343 grilse in 2011, vs. 429 in 2010. But large salmon are up significantly, with 100 as of July 10, vs. 62 last year. Water temperature was 16 C.

Dungarvon – At the Frying Pan Pool Fence, there have been 112 large salmon to July 10, vs. 74 last year. Grilse are running about the same as last year – 309 vs. 314, and small salmon 43 vs. 47. Water temperatures inched up to 19 C. on Sunday.

Restigouche – There are lots of big fish showing up. At Larry’s Gulch one angler landed and released a 51-inch male at Cheyne Pool on Monday. An estimated weight was 42 pounds. Even better, the fish are showing up bright, and very healthy looking this year. A film crew on the Restigouche River has been having great angling – released 13 fish on Mon. July 11, and each day for past three days at least one salmon weighing above 20 pounds. They do wonder if the Greenland Agreement is having an impact, given the returns of large salmon.

Restigouche River Below Kedgwick

Nova Scotia

Falling water levels have reduced the runs in most Nova Scotia Rivers

Cheticamp – June brought the best run of large salmon in many years, 12 to 14 lb., but without much rain in the past 18 days, that run has dropped, but there are a fair number of salmon in the large upper pools. With the rain in the past few days, hopefully new fish will be moving upstream.

Margaree – Some rain in the last day or so. Salmon have been congregating in the lower pools.

Margaree Water Levels

LaHave – The Morgan Falls fishway is closed due to low water. Last count was 68 salmon and 256 grilse as of July 8.


Exploits – The Exploits, perhaps the second most productive salmon river in Canada, after the Miramichi, has seen an explosive movement in the past week. As of July 10 20,538 have been counted at Bishops Falls. Not as good as last year’s 26,527 to this point, but still good.

Exploits River at Charlies Edwards Point

Terra Nova River – 1,461 to date, which compares reasonably to last year’s spectacular NL runs which included 1,651 for this river.

Conne – The south coast rivers remain of special concern. The Conne had 1,180 as of July 10, against 1,676 past year and a 2006-2010 average of 1,963.

Harry’s River – The new counting facility near Stephenville, and run with side-scan sonar (DIDSON), has counted 2,761 as of Sun., July 10.

Watching Salmon at Torrent River Interpretive Centre

Torrent River – Finally the salmon are coming in after a delay of about three weeks from previous years, but numbers to date are disappointing. As of July 10 there have been only 61 pass through the fishway and past the Interpretive Centre’s Viewing Room, compared with 1,526 last year and recent averages of 868 per year.



There are some indications, and perhaps a sense of relief, that returns in Labrador appear to be improving from those in recent years.

Sand Hill – An amazing 2,343 grilse and 415 large salmon to date, which is far above the averages from 2005-2010, which were 1,223 grilse and 333 large.

Eagle River – Anglers are finding the water levels have been high, but now dropping somewhat. Some have been seeing the largest “big fish” in the past generation, they say. Pratt Falls Lodge had three 20+ pounders hooked in the past few days, and a large number in the 12 to 18 pound range.


The excitement on the Gaspé rivers continues, particularly since there are some real giants returning. Camp Brulé notes many fish above 20 pounds, with one 35 pounder. They note that Atlantic salmon are stopping at many pools that haven’t have fish for the past six years.


Edge of the Veazie Dam from fish trap in mid-river

Penobscot – The salmon are still coming in, but at a much slower rate. There were 2,910 as of July 11, so it will be touch and go whether the returns reach 3,000 this year. Of the 2,910, approximately 78% are large salmon, and 22% grilse. This year is like an early vision of what the Penobscot River is capable of being once the lower dams are removed.

Narraguagus – This river has now reached 145 as of July 11, perhaps the best run since the late 1980s.

Other rivers – The Androscoggin is at 44, the Kennebec at 60 as of July 11, but on the following morning the week’s numbers have not been posted for some of the other rivers.

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One Response to Take a breath – and hope the runs keep coming

  1. Dick Nielsen says:

    Just back from a week (6/26 – 7/3) on the Restigouche – I have never seen so many fish in the river – better than last year, which was very good. 5 rods hooked 78 fish and landed 66.
    I don’t know what’s working, but keep it up.

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