Stopping for Atlantic Salmon

Whether or not you are on your way to a salmon river somewhere, consider stopping at one of the interpretive centers that focus on Atlantic salmon. Certainly ASF’s own interpretive centre in St. Andrews is one such – but there are many others.

Sculpture, Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery. Photo Tom Moffatt

If you are driving Maine’s coastal highways, it is well worth stopping at the Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery. This state-of-the-art facility’s principal role is hosting the gene-banked endangered Atlantic salmon populations of Maine rivers, such as the Penobscot,

Gene-banked Salmon from a Downeast River at Craig Brook.

the Dennys, and a group of others. Visitors can view large adult fish through viewing windows and will also find interesting the ecological and historical exhibits in the large space. It is located in East Orland, between Bucksport and Ellsworth. Only a very small road sign notes the hatchery’s presence, so stay alert when you are driving by. It is on the north side of the road – left side, if you are travelling east.

Matane Fishway. Photo SOGERM

In Quebec, one great place to watch Atlantic salmon is the Matane fishway. The bilingual interpretive staff is very knowledgeable about the species, the river, and history of the region’s salmon. The windows in the side of the fishway even give you a measurement scale so that you could pull out your ASF salmometer and determine the weight of the migrating Atlantic salmon. An excellent break on the long roads of the Gaspé

River Reports


Low flows and warm water everywhere.

Gaspésie Region

Herb Makin releases an Atlantic salmon on the York River – on Aug. 1, 2012. Photo Jean Makin

Cascapedia – Darlene Sexton of the Cascapedia Society reported 507 fish landed in July, for a season total of 1,062.   With the extremely low water flow, the majority of fish have made themselves at home in the larger holding pools such as Alder Island in the upper section of the river.

Matane – To August 6, a total of 1,414 fish (777 salmon; 637 grilse) had migrated through and 471 fish (232 salmon and 239 grilse) were reported landed.  There is no report yet on how many were released.

Lower St-Lawrence Region

Matapedia – To August 7, for the season that began on June 1, the CGRMP reported that 640 fish had been landed.  Of these, 588 fish were retained and 52 were released.  On August 8, the river was flowing at a rate of 10.8 cubic meters per second.

Mitis – To August 7, 877 fish had entered the river (542 salmon; 335 grilse).  For the season, the Mitis Zec reported 248 fish landed (123 salmon; 115 grilse), with 9 releases.

Rimouski – As of August 8, 352 fish had been trapped for transportation upstream (171 salmon; 181 grilse).  Angling has also been slow due to low water. A total of 85 fish were landed (22 salmon released; 63 grilse retained).

Charlevoix Region

River of Gold and Silver – the tannins in the river colour it gold, and soften the lovely silver of the Atlantic salmon. A 2012 Atlantic salmon release.

Malbaie River – Up to August 8, 300 (175 salmon; 125 grilse) had migrated through the fish ladder.  Angling success was reported at a total of 152 fish (83 salmon released; 69 grilse retained).  Low water in this region is affecting angling results.

North Shore Region

Escoumins River – To July 14; 147 fish had entered the system (124 salmon; 23 grilse), 36 fish had been landed (26 salmon released; 10 grilse retained).  The counting facility within the dam at the mouth of the river is scheduled to be dismantled this fall and is now structurally unstable, so data will no longer be available for the rest of 2012.

Godbout River – As of July 29, a total of 496 fish had entered the Godbout (445 salmon; 51 grilse. This is above the 2007 to 2011 five-year average, which was 201 fish landed, consisting of 119 released salmon, 38 released grilse, and 44 retained grilse.

De la Trinité River – As of July 29, 437 (232 salmon; 205 grilse) had entered the river.  To date, 84 fish have been landed (36 salmon and one grilse released; 47 grilse retained).

Aux Rochers River – To July 29, 839 fish had entered the counting facility (758 salmon;  81 grilse).  Anglers released 213 salmon, 4 grilse and retained 35 salmon and 25 grilse for a grand total of 277 fish landed.

Vieux Fort (Old Fort) River –  This is a new addition to River Notes. To July 31, 841 fish had entered the system, consisting of 54 salmon and 787 grilse.

New Brunswick

Low Flow and Warm water

Miramichi – restrictions still apply both to specific pools and sections of river, and the overall fishing is restricted to early morning. See last week’s RiverNotes for full details.

Reports are of Atlantic salmon hunkering down near cold springs, with little activity for anglers, although a few fish are being hooked here and there. The action is definitely slow at the moment.

The charts below for the NW Miramichi Barrier, and for the Dungarvon Barrier tell the numbers story for 2012. Water temperatures on Sunday at both locations was 22 C.

Northwest Barrier to Aug. 5 (from DFO)

Dungarvon Barrier, Miramichi

Upsalquitch – In northern New Brunswick it is a year of fewer returns, as it is in all other regions. The July 31, count had 441 returning (242 large salmon; 199 grilse), less than half last year’s 967 (483 large salmon; 484 grilse)

Jacquet River – If anything, returns are down further. To July 31, 162 Atlantic salmon (45 large; 117 grilse), compared to 2011’s 417 (145 large; 272 grilse)

Nepisiguit – 88 salmon (25 large; 63 grilse) in 2012, compared to  759 (382 large; 377 grilse) in 2011. This amounts to only 11.5% of the returns to date in 2011.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The low water levels and extremely high water temperatures have led to new river closures as of today.

These include:

Zone 8
76. Renews River

Zone 9
77. Biscay Bay River
79. Northwest Brook, Trepassey
80. Peter’s River

Zone 10
88. Great Barasway
89. South East Rivers (Placentia) & tributary streams
92. Watson’sBrook, Placentia Bay
96. Nonsuch Brook
97. Cape Rodger River
98. Bay de l’Eau River
99. Red Harbour River, Northeast & Northwest branches & tributary streams
100. West Brook, North West Arm, Mortier Bay & tributary streams
101. Tide’s Brook, Mortier Bay including Main Brook, Shearstick Brook &
tributary streams
102. Salmonier River, Burin
103. Little St. Lawrence River & tributary streams
104. Lawn River & tributary streams
105. Taylor’s Bay River, Burin Peninsula & tributary streams
106. Salmonier Lamaline River & tributary streams
107. Piercey’s Brook & tributary streams

Zone 11
108. Grand Bank Brook & tributary streams
109. Garnish River, including Lower Garnish & Upper or Black River &
tributary streams
110. Long Harbour River & tributary streams, Fortune Bay
111.   Bay du Nord River
112.  Simmons Brook & tributary streams, Cinq Island Bay, Fortune Bay
113.  Southwest Brook & tributary streams, Cinq Island Bay,Fortune    Bay
114.  Old Bay Brook, Bay de l’Eau
115.  Taylors Bay Brook, Bay de l’Eau
117.  Long Reach Brook, East Bay
118.  Allen’s Cove Brook, Facheau Bay
119.  Bottom Brook, Facheau Bay
120. Hare Bay Rivers, Southwest Coast

For more information please call the DFO recreational fishing line at 709-772-4423.

For other closures, also visit SPAWN’s DFO-Closures page.

Reports from anglers are generally of low water and high temperatures. A bit of rain in some places early Tues. morning could make a bit of difference. Some who fished on the Northern Peninsula in the Hawke’s Bay and River of Ponds area remarked on never seeing the rivers so low or warm.

Fishway counts are equally unimpressive

Exploits – has fallen well behind the bumper years of 2010 and 2011, with 29,651 reported as of Aug. 5, as opposed to 39,284 in 2011. There is talk that the peak of the run happened earlier this year, but we shall see.

Terra Nova River – with 3,430 as of Aug. 5, well below last year’s 4,524, but still not as bad as it could be.

Conne River – seems stuck at about 1,960 returns, but still far better than last year’s 1,193. Now we just hope the ISA in the south coast fish farm didn’t affect the wild fish!

DIDSON Monitors in Trailer, monitoring Harry’s River salmon migration. Photo Tom Moffatt/ASF

Harry’s River – With 2,250 salmon sensed by the Didson unit as of Aug. 5, that is little more than half last year’s 4,006. As with many west coast rivers, weather conditions are just not helping the salmon much.

Torrent River – 3,754 as of Aug. 5, which is better than last year’s 3,038, but concerns are being raised about the flows being so low still.

Western Arm Brook – with 803 returned, well below last year’s 1,356.

Sand Hill – This Labrador River still managed to have 4,124 salmon (3,406 small; 718 large), but that fades in comparison to last year’s 9,163 to Aug. 5.

English River – 375 (314 small; 61 large) this year, which makes this one of the unusual rivers that exceed the 2011 numbers, which were 254 small and 107 large to  Aug. 5.

Elsewhere in Labrador the story has generally been the same as all other areas – lower than normal flows, and higher than normal water temperatures.

Nova Scotia

Cheticamp – still closed due to low water and high temperatures

Margaree – low water and only occasional reports of success in pools


Returns remain low, with no returns of Atlantic salmon this week to the Veazie Trap on the Penobscot, so total returns remain at 609.

Other Rivers: Narraguagus now has 16, the Saco 12 and the Kennebec 5.

Footnote: Aug. 9 image of the Great Works Dam removal on the Penobscot at Bradley/Old Town.

Aug. 9 – Great Works Dam Removal, Penobscot River

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