June 1, 2021 Miramichi Salmon News

Fishing Friends –

Guide Peter Firth with a May Restigouche salmon.

The month of May went by without me hearing of a single bright salmon being caught on the Miramichi, though that has never been unusual, and it doesn’t mean that someone didn’t connect.  I hear that the occasional, of what Pete Dube of the Motel Restigouche calls “giant brights” has been taken on the Restigouche since early in May, and that includes this lovely specimen held by Matapedia guide Peter Firth.  I remember when Peter struck out on his own as an independent guide back in the 90s.  He has been taking early-run fish like this most years for a long time.

Tag returns from a Canadian government study done back in the 1930s tracked the homeward migration of Atlantic salmon from their arrival off Port Au Basque, Newfoundland to Miramichi Gully off the entrance to Miramichi Bay.  Upwards of a hundred boats a night fished for these salmon with gill nets from North Cape, PEI to Tabusintac.  From there it was clear that members of this congregation of salmon dispersed into all the rivers of the Baie-des-Chaleurs as well as rivers of the Northumberland Shore.  It was found that some of these fish immediately entered rivers like the Restigouche, yet even though they arrived off Miramichi at the same time, they didn’t enter the Miramichi River in any detectable numbers until well into June.  So it is an established fact that the Miramichi has always been a later running river than the Restigouche.  Still we do get the occasional May fish, and we make up for our slow start in the fall.

Photo of Warren Tompkins courtesy Country Haven.

Also worth noting is the fact that the 2021 the kelt fishing season was very good, and that it hung on quite late.  Warren Tompkins, fishing at Country Haven, had four as late as May 14th.  There may not be anything extraordinary about mid-May kelts, but there is when you consider that we had open water by the end of March this spring.  There were also a fair number of sea run trout in the mix, with another angler from Country Haven catching a 5 pound salter in the lower SW Miramichi on May 16.  It was also reported that a couple of anglers floating the lower Cains around that same time had a couple of days of excellent sea run brook trout fishing.  Considering the ridiculous number of overly protected striped bass crowded into the both the NW and SW Miramichi during spawning season, it is the best of news that any trout are able to survive to make it back up to their summering grounds each spring.

This is the official information from the Province. Double-click on the image to enlarge it for better reading.

The good news, that doubtless many of you have heard, is that the New Brunswick border will be open as of July 1 to international travelers coming from Maine with two shots of vaccine, and no isolation will be required.  Travelers coming from other states, but coming through Maine, will have to isolate for two weeks.  That restriction will end on August 1.  This is not an official announcement.  Check with the border authorities before trying to cross, but it looks like we are in!  I’m sure that outfitters like Wilsons, the Ledges, Bullocks, Country Haven, Upper Oxbow, and others that I’ve missed, have openings, so now is the time to make those reservations.  Shops like Curtis Miramichi Outfitters in Blackville, and WW Doak in Doaktown should have all the latest information – and flies!

The Miramichi Salmon Association MSA voted in a meeting on May 29th to work with a company named Fish Pal in Scotland to produce and host a website to be called Fish Miramichi.   Fish Pal was developed by the proprietors of the River Tweed in Scotland to provide fisheries on the Tweed with one attractive website that could advertise the various fisheries along the river, facilitate online booking, provide up to date fishing conditions, and display recent salmon catches.  The site also shows lodging, restaurants, and available tourist information for non-fishing days.

Byron Coughlin of Country Haven noted that European anglers at his lodge could hardly wait to check Fish Pal at the end of the day for the latest conditions and catches on their own home rivers.   I personally have been watching Fish Pal for rivers I’ve fished in Scotland, and several of my fishing friends on the Miramichi do the same thing.  The plan is to take the rest of this year to get the site up and running and fleshed out with participating lodges, clubs, guides, and private owners who want to offer fishing on their water.  Hopefully by the winter the site will be in a position to start taking online bookings for the 2022 fishing season.  Check out this link to Fish Dee, the site for the River Dee in Scotland.  There is a lot to look at.  Don’t hesitate to use comments at the end of this blog to ask a question.  If you do that I can answer it so that other readers will also see it.

The board of directors of the Miramichi Salmon Association – U.S.  has voted to provide a donation of $150,000 Canadian dollars from its endowment to the MSA in Canada to use for the purchase of rotenone to eradicate the smallmouth bass illegally stocked in Miramichi Lake.  Smallmouth bass are in invasive species that poses a severe threat to the Miramichi River’s Atlantic salmon population. This is one of the single largest donations that we know of made by a U.S. non-profit to aid the conservation efforts of a Canadian fishery organization.

The MSA has been working to get the smallmouth eradication accomplished since the fish were first discovered more than 10 years ago.  The Feb. 4, 2011 letter from my files shown here is clear proof of what a consistent and champion the MSA has been for action on this issue.

I’ll begin the daily fishing reports as soon as I get news of the first bright fish being released.  Every day from here on in there will be lots of anglers out there trying.

Thanks for reading.  Brad Burns

13 Comments on “June 1, 2021 Miramichi Salmon News

  1. Hey Brad,

    Thank you very much for the latest news
    The UK is progressing well with its vaccination program and I am hoping to get on the Miramichi in the fall
    I have booked several days through Fishpal in Scotland this year, but only the fishing Will the lodges in Canada be selling the whole package from travel, accommodation, food, guides, fishing etc. ?

    • Thanks very much for this comment. We did anticipate the difference in whole packages versus fishing only in our discussions with Pay Pal. Pay Pal’s commissions on bookings are based around just the rod portion, and they have agreed to modify the program to accommodate food and lodging. So I believe the answer is that yes, we will be offering the whole package through Fish Pal. We will, though, also be offering just the rods. As you know NB hasn’t done a lot of that in the past though some lodges like Wilson’s are doing more of it. We think the site will eventually list some smaller beats where just the pool can be booked.

  2. Brad, have you heard any talk about how they intend to verify that we’re vaccinated?

    • Ralph – When my wife and I were vaccinated we were given a little card that testified to each of the shots, date given etc. My wife has hung on to those so I don’t lose them. I assume it will be these.

      • I’m not so sure about that. Too easy to forge. We’ll have to wait and see.

  3. Special treatment for residents of Maine makes no sense. The rates of new diagnoses are lower in Connecticut and Massachusetts (both 3 in 100,000) compared to Maine (8/100,000). In addition, the percentages of fully vaccinated residents of each state are virtually the same (54%, 53%, 52%).

      • If the MSA doesn’t speak up for members south of Maine who are fully vaccinated soon …..it might be a piss poor year for fund raising?

        • Peter – I made a mistake in the way I looked at the paper the government put out. For whatever reason they are treating Maine residents more favorably if they have one or no vaccinations. If you have two shots, though, as of July 1, all international travelers are treated the same and can enter with no isolation. All this still requires federal approval. Brad

      • Looking at new case rates and vaccination status would be a logical way to do it. But then, this is the Canadian government we’re talking about.

    • Bill – I made a mistake in the way I looked at the paper the government put out. For whatever reason they are treating Maine residents more favorably if they have one or no vaccinations. If you have two shots, though, as of July 1 all international travelers are treated the same – can enter with no isolation. Brad

      • I wouldn’t necessarily start packing yet. The US border is federal jurisdiction, and the province of NB can’t unilaterally decide that they are going to permit Americans to enter. NB was “suggesting” that the Canadian Gov permit border crossings into NB, but there is still great reluctance to open the US border for some time yet. I don’t think there will be selective border crossings in certain provinces allowed – it will be an all or nothing decision. The border closure decision has been renewed on a monthly basis by the feds, and it occurs before the 21st of each month. I think that there would have been a lot more chatter about the US border opening this summer by this point if it was going to happen…

  4. Brad, thank you for this informative update. It is encouraging to know we will get an opportunity to return to the Miramichi in 2021.

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