From the Blog

Wild Atlantic salmon and the Storm

Bonaventure salmon – 2011 edition – photo Kelsey Taylor

Hurricane Irene caused  water levels across most of the  Atlantic salmon range in North America to increase and in some cases significantly.

The only areas not impacted were in the east including central and eastern Newfoundland, Cape Breton and some other parts of Nova Scotia.

The last week in August is always a time to pause, and to prepare for the coming autumn. It would appear that the water levels should be good for salmon migration upstream, at least in September.

Atlantic Salmon Run Numbers that we have.

Nova Scotia

LaHave – The Morgan Falls Fishway is presently shut down as water temperatures had been creeping up, and this area  didn’t get major rain with the hurricane. The last Atlantic salmon went through 10 days ago. The fishway is expected to re-open at the beginning of next week.

Margaree and Cheticamp – Despite low water, anglers are catching salmon. On the Cheticamp,  anglers are mostly on the lower section of the river. A contact on the Margaree noted the river rose more with a rainstorm last week than it did when hurricane Irene.


Exploits – The run has slowed to a trickle, with only 102 new Atlantic salmon counted in the past week, bringing the total to 41,415. Still, this compares favourably with 2010′s record breaking run of 45,627.

Terra Nova River – Another 83 salmon arrived  in the past week, giving a total of 5,145 compared to 4,533 for 2010, and far better than the 3,146 of the five-year average.

Torrent River – The count is still lagging with 3,787 to date, compared with 5,529 last year, and below the five-year average of 4,597.


Sand Hill – The numbers continue to rise, with 8,565 grilse and 970 large salmon, totalling 9,535 – compared to a total of 1,974 (1,798 grilse and 176 large salmon) in 2010. Everyone is watching this one to see if  it will break 10,000

Paradise – Interestingly, this river is also doing much better than last year, with 375 grilse and 33 large salmon, compared with 170 grilse and 17 large in 2010 – but this puts it on a par with the five-year average.

New Brunswick

Salmon on the Restigouche

Restigouche – Water levels are up but Atlantic salmon are still showing an interest in flies presented to them. Tom Callaghan of Ristigouche Salmon Club noted that a salmon was caught on August 29.

On the upper river, Danny Bird at Kedgwick Lodge said early in the week:

“Water is in the bushes!  Raised from 1.2m to 1.8m overnight but holding at the present level. The water is very chocolate-coloured, perhaps from sediment run-off coming from the agricultural sector as well as the forestry industry. There appears to be a good run of fresh fish in the upper system, weighing in the range of 12 to14 lbs. No hurricane up here just a good rainfall and some moderate wind.”

Another angler report from last week’s action on the Restigouche:

“Good number of fish in the river. Fishing for three days, party of four brought to the shore 20 salmon, the largest 24 lb. despite a significant water rise. According to the guides there have been very good water conditions all through August until Irene. Most of the fish were extremely healthy looking.”

Kedgwick – Don Sullivan at Kedgwick Salmon Club reported this morning there had been 719 Atlantic salmon brought to shore. This is an all time record. The Club closes down for the season this week on a high note.

Miramichi – Water is high and silty,, but slowly clearing. Keith Wilson says “This week is a bust.”. Check out the water levels at Blackville in the graph below:

Southwest Miramichi at Blackville – Water Levels


Penobscot – Only seven new fish to report in the past week, bringing the total to 3,029 so far. There is a good possibility of more in September given the high flows and low water temperatures. Hurricane Irene dropped a major amount of water on this basin. Check out the Mattawamkeag water level, now three metres above its level on Sunday.

Mattawamkeag – a major tributary of the Penobscot River



Causapscal River – Falls Pool – photo Charles Cusson

To August 28th, a total of 1,975 fish had  landed which includes 279 releases.  As of noon on August 29, the flow was 843 cubic meters/second, up from 543 cubic meters/second 12 hours earlier.  This translates into a 10” rise in the river level.  Angling results continue to outpace last season, 745 more fish have been landed (includes an increase of 125 additional releases) compared to the same date in 2010.

On July 20 a salmon was landed in Adams Pool with a numbered tag attached to its dorsal fin. Scale samples were sent to Jonathan Carr at our research department for analysis.  It turns out our traveler, originally tagged on May 28, 2008 in the lower stretches of the Restigouche, was two years old at the time he went out to sea for the first time and returned to his natal river in 2011 as a three sea winter fish estimated at 22lbs.  What tales he could tell…..Unfortunately, scales did not have the clarity needed to tell the fresh water story.


For the month to August 25th, the Cascapedia Society is reporting 386 fish landed, 339 confirmed releases and a mix of 47 salmon and grilse have been killed.  A retention fishery with a quota of 100 mature salmon is in effect for the month of August.  The river needed water but the answer has been overwhelming, changing from 25 cubic meters/second to just under 100 cubic meters/second in 24 hours. Once the waters calm down, the angling will be interesting well into September.  The society is urging anglers to keep only cock fish in the 15 lb range and to release any hen fish.  Mandatory live release of all salmon will resume once the quota is reached or on September 1st.


As of August 27th, 3,022 fish had migrated (1,364 salmon and 1,658 grilse) through the fish ladder. This represents an increase of 1,107 fish compared to all of last season.  As of the 27th, 361 salmon and 625 grilse were reported landed.   Only a few releases have been reported to date, an accurate number in regards to releases is available at season end.  Water levels spiked considerably on the 29th, to 723 cubic meters/second at noon, up from 123 cubic meters/second 18 hours earlier.  This bodes well for anyone lucky enough to fish here in September.


In total for the season, to August 29th, 1,059 salmon have been landed and released, 100 more than same date in 2010.  Grilse captures are up from 385 in 2010 to 670 in 2011.  Angling conditions will not be that great for next week due to  flows increasing from 603 cubic meters/second to 1403  in fewer than 12 hours.


Ninety days into the season at August 29th, 365 salmon have been reported released compared to 301 at the comparable date in 2010.  The number of grilse landed has increased to 176 from 102 in 2010.  Irene’s visit to the area caused water flows to jump from 103 cubic meters/second at midnight on the 29th to 603 cubic meters/second 12 hours later.

Dartmouth, St-Jean and York Rivers

Charlie Pool, St-Jean (Gaspé) – photo Charles Cusson

On August 29th, major increases in flows were recorded.  For the Dartmouth, in fewer than 12 hours the flow increased from 103 cubic meters/second to 903 cubic meters/second.  The York went from 163 cubic meters/second   to 563 cubic meters/second.   This bodes well for angling for the month of September.



At August 29th it is time to put the fly rod down for a few days.  The river flow increased from 403 cubic meters/second at midnight to 2403 cubic meters/second 12 hours later.  There are reports of road wash outs and extreme conditions in the Saguenay.  This is an extreme water event; let’s hope the damage is kept to a minimum.

Wild Atlantic salmon and the Storm

Speak Your Mind