Mid-October on Glorious Rivers

October mist on a windless morning at Wilson's on the Southwest Miramichi. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

October mist on a windless morning at Wilson’s on the Southwest Miramichi. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

There have been some wonderful days on salmon rivers in the Maritimes this fall. After that major deluge a few weeks ago the waters receded, and did so slightly faster than many had predicted.

We were left with good conditions, and just enough rain showers since to keep things interesting.

As of today the season ends in many New Brunswick rivers including the Miramichi, but there are still some rivers open till later, such as the Bartibog. As many have noted, the last few days of the season can be a bit tedious with catching more maple leaves on the water than anything else. Perhaps one might might press and frame the largest maple leaf caught on one’s final day of the season – and enjoy the colours on the wall with the memory that it brings. ASF’s Charles Cusson also noted that Atlantic salmon will sometimes “attack” the leaves, another interesting aspect of this charismatic fish’s behaviour.

Cains River in mid-October of 2015. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Cains River in mid-October of 2015. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

New Brunswick


The last day of the season is bright and sunny, and levels are quite good, so expect there will be many taking a day off work to enjoy one last flit of the fly and watch the river set against a backdrop of bright red and yellow.

The Dungarvon Fence on the Southwest Miramichi was finding movement upstream of salmon with 25 grilse and 14 large salmon for the week ending Oct. 11, giving a total to that date of 207 grilse and 175 large salmon, making a full total of 382. This is slightly more than double the total in 2014 to the same date of 184, made up of 106 grilse and 78 large salmon.

Judy Lutes of the Miramichi Headwaters Salmon Federation was reporting that last week they collected the broodstock near Juniper immediately after setting up for the event, the great rise of water the previous week causing a major surge of salmon upriver.

Miramichi Headwaters Salmon Federation was out collecting broodstock near Juniper, on Oct. 8, 2015. Photo Judy Lutes

Miramichi Headwaters Salmon Federation was out collecting broodstock near Juniper, on Oct. 8, 2015. Photo Judy Lutes

Nathan Wilbur, ASF’s Director of New Brunswick Programs, writes this on Oct. 14:

Reports have been good from the SW Miramichi and Cains Rivers. The high water seems to have brought in fish and helped fish that were already in the system make their move to get where they want to be for spawning. The good news is that many of the fish being hooked are large females. Of the fish I’ve heard reported and seen pictures of over the past week, over 50% of them are MSW females. Hopefully this is representative of the run and we have a substantial egg deposit this year. Anglers and hunters have been out enjoying the fall splendour and the “cast and blast” season. There’s nothing like being on a river this time of year in New Brunswick surrounded by the fall colours, birds, and salmon. Water levels are perfect.

Calvin Milbury releases a beautiful salmon on the SW Miramichi on Oct. 9. Photo Paul Milbury

Calvin Milbury releases a beautiful salmon on the SW Miramichi on Oct. 9. Photo Paul Milbury

On the Northwest Miramichi Barrier, the numbers are just not coming up the way many had hoped. To Oct. 11 there have been 254 grilse and 80 large salmon, totalling 334. This is marginally better than the 2014 count of 185 grilse and 65 large salmon, that totalled 250.


We received the barrier count to Oct. 11, and while there is no comparison number for 2014, the results are definitely promising, with 756 grilse and 243 large salmon, totalling 999. For the five-year average 1992-1996 the end of season count for grilse was 1,076 and 710 for large salmon, totalling 1,786. Given the many issues since then, notably greatly increased mortality at sea, this year’s return holds some promise.

Jacquet River

The water has apparently been somewhat low this week, and many of the salmon who came in during the “surge” a week ago still have not travelled up towards the headwaters, according to Michael O’Toole. As to the counting fence, the number of new fish has been modest in the period up to Oct. 11, with 241 grilse and 266 large salmon (total 507). This is far above last year’s count to the same date of 83 grilse and 92 large salmon, that totalled 175.

Nova Scotia

The season continues until Halloween, Oct. 31. Right now the forests are reaching the high point of their colour, or are just past.

Northumberland Strait Rivers

Gerry Doucet notes:

Fishing on the Northumberland Strait Rivers has improved dramatically over the last few days. A fast-moving low-pressure system passed through Tuesday providing 20 to 30 mm of rain. Current fishing conditions are ideal.

The River Philip has been slow due to low water but the latest freshener has provided much encouragement for anglers. The Wallace River has reported fish in all major holding pools. Reports from the East River in New Glasgow suggest that water levels are positive for the fall migration of Atlantic salmon.

West River in Antigonish was high and dirty on Wednesday but conditions should improve over the weekend. Fishing has been sporadic as the main run has yet to appear.


Alex Breckenridge of “The Tying Scotsman” notes:

Fish are being caught throughout the system. The last rise in water helped a lot, river still at a good level.

Meanwhile, Greg Lovely wrote a bit earlier this week:

We are getting another bump of water. River temperature nice and cool for the fish and the fishing is good. Multi-fish days this time of year are great and for myself and some friends we cannot complain.

Lewis Hinks, ASF Director of Nova Scotia noted that conversations indicate that some anglers have recently found great angling on the Middle and Baddeck rivers, while others have had little success.


While the angling season is over, ASF’s Don Ivany, Director of Newfoundland and Labrador programs, notes that the levels of the Humber were on the high side, while both eastern and central Newfoundland still had low water conditions. Naturally everyone is hoping for a few good storms to provide water to those parts of the island where the rivers need a good “bump” in level to set up the salmon for spawning.


The last week of September was mostly low water conditions until the 29th when the skies opened up and made conditions better for the spawning period that is close at hand. With the angling season now over, the focus turns to factors directly affecting spawning success in the remainder of 2015.

Sunrise, Oct. 1, 2015 at Lower Adams Pool, Matapedia River. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF

Sunrise, Oct. 1, 2015 at Lower Adams Pool, Matapedia River. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF

The Other Side of the Salmon River

Moon over the Southwest Miramichi at Wilson's. Photo Blair Robertson

Moon over the Southwest Miramichi at Wilson’s. Photo Blair Robertson

This photograph was taken by Brian Robertson of Wilson’s on the Southwest Miramichi in the early morning of the day that also brought us the “blood red” lunar eclipse at the first of the month.

The magic of salmon rivers is in no way restricted to just the Atlantic salmon – it is just important that the Atlantic salmon be part of that magic.


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