Miramichi Ice Out Report

With the current state of world affairs, and the shelter-at-home situation that we now find ourselves in, I thought I’d start a blog that I will keep open until the ice is out of the Miramichi, tracking the progress on a ongoing basis.  I may not bother you with a notice every time I post a new picture of the river, so just check back every now and then to see if there is anything new.

3/21/2020 Actually I’ve been watching for a little while, and the first hints of what is to come were visible today.  You will see below two photos – click to enlarge.  One is from the mouth of McKenzie Brook across from Jason Curtis home.  The warm weather and rain of 3/20 have left the top of the ice covered with a little water.  To date the water has only risen about 6 inches from this event, and it will be cold the next few nights.  There probably won’t be a big change until late in the week or next weekend.

The other picture is from the MSA  webcam up at Bullock’s Lodge in Boiestown.  You will see there a distinct wet line on the ice over the channel of the river.  
























3/28/2020 Fast forward a week and here is Bullock’s this morning. It doesn’t look a lot different than the week before, though I’m sure the ice has thinned out a bit.  I see that the height is 1.8 meters on the Blackville gauge, again about where it was last Saturday, but during the week it had been up as high as 2.05 meters.  It is going to be warm and sunny today, but cold tonight dipping into the high teens F.  There is snow forecast for Tuesday, and the rest of the week is cloudy and cool.  It seems unlikely that we will see ice out before the second week of April.

Estimated 30 pounds from the Findhorn, Ian Gordon Speycaster blog. Thought to be a repeat spawner.

While Canada is waiting for ice-out,  fishing in Scotland was in full swing, though, the self catered lodging business has now been shut down by the govt because of corona.  It was interesting to get a new blog post from famed Speycaster Ian Gordon yesterday, though, and to see him excited about repeat spawners aka rebuilt kelts. Many Scottish rivers are thought to have far fewer repeat spawners as a percentage of their run than we have on the Miramichi where virtually every salmon over about 14 pounds or so is thought to be a repeat spawner.  Ian stated, though, that he is not confident that repeat spawners have been studied enough there to really know how common they are.  I myself have caught several salmon on the River Naver that tag returns showed were rebuilt kelts, so I suspect Ian is right and there are more of these fish in their rivers than some might think.  Scotland does have many spate rivers – small fast-running rivers coming directly out of the hill country and driving right into the sea – that contain none of the deep, slow flow that kelts need to overwinter.  There also many rivers large and small with some deep, slow pools, and even lochs along their way that can and do hold lots of overwintering kelts.

We’ve written a lot in past blogs about the importance of kelts and the resultant repeat spawners to the Miramichi.  These are the larger adult salmon that we see in the river, and they produce many of the eggs laid every fall.  They are very important to the stability of the population.  If you do get spring fishing this year and are fortunate enough to land some fish, just imagine each one building a redd or fertilizing eggs on the Miramichi or Cains in the fall of 2021, and take extra care releasing it.

  • Make sure that you are using barbless hooks for easy removal, don’t hold the fish out of the water for more than a few seconds for photos.
  • Unhooking is best done by two men.  One nets and holds the fish, the other holds the fish by the lower jaw and unhooks it.
  • Make sure that you use a soft net, and be prepared with forceps to quickly remove the hook.
  • Don’t use a hook larger than a #2 salmon iron.  There is no need for long shanked hooks or especially stinger hooks that are more likely than regular hooks to catch the salmon back in the gills or the throat where it will bleed badly and is difficult to unhook.

These may be minor conservation measures in the total scheme of things, but everything we can do helps.

Another consequence of the corona virus is that Stackpole books closed for two weeks until April 6.  Hopefully when they reopen next week the reprint of On the Cains will be there and I will be able to get books out shortly to those who ordered them.  I apologize very much for the delay, but as we know the virus has really thrown a big wrench into things.

Thanks for reading.  Brad Burns

3/29/2020 As a result of the 3/29 blog Eric Coffin sent in this pic of the SWM river up at Salar Haven, once the camp of Herman Campbell, a famous outfitter of the 50s and 60s.












Here is a picture from On the Cains of Salar Haven in the late 1950s.  The young man in the photo, Bud Hofer,  sent me this picture of himself on his first trip to the river in 1958.

4/2/2020 update – things are progressing along in the two pictures you will see below.  You will see a big change in the situation in Boiestown, but a lesser one in Blackville.  The river is slowly rising right now.  The current forecast is cooler and with less rain than a few days ago.  I thought we might see some movement by the end of the coming weekend, but that is looking less likely.

Bullocks web cam Boiestown










Jason Curtis Blackville – McKenzie Brook

4/4/2020  Things are happening fast now on the Miramichi.  In spite of freezing temps this morning the river is up to 2.6 meters from the recent rain.  That is a raise of 30 inches since Thursday.  Jason Curtis sent me pictures yesterday of Campbell’s and there was still lots of snow and ice there, but in today’s photo of Bullock’s in Boiestown you can see that the center of the river is substantially open with leads on both shores.  Sunday night and Monday are forecast periods of rain and 10C/50F.  That may very well bring the river way up and take the ice.

Things don’t seem to want to wait that long.  The next picture is also from today, 4/4/20, but is about 7 hours later.  The river in Blackville is now at 2.8 meters and rising.  You can see in the upper part of the picture below that the ice has gone in the upper part of Bullock’s pool in Boiestown.

4/5/2020 8:26 AM  The river is now up to 3.2 meters in Blackville.  It has been a long steady rise – which is healthy indicating no ice dams as of yet – and is now up to spring height.  At Bullocks the river looks very much like last night, so there is no real ice run yet.  The next few days area seasonably cool and the forecast rain has become showers or snow flurries.  Hard to say when the ice will run.

4/6/2020 1:33 Pm The ice has been running free in Boiestown for a couple of hours.

4/7/2020 While the ice broke up on 4/6 in Boiestown, it didn’t really start to move until 4/7 in Blackville.  At the end of the day it was moving but jamming up on itself here and there.  The ice isn’t terribly thick, though, and hopefully there will be no major problems with the river clearing up.

Here is a link “IMG_4334 below” to a little movie taken by Jason Curtis from his house looking over to my Campbell’s Pool camp at dusk on 4/7.


4/8/2020 At 5:00 PM Peter Downey e-mailed me that the river was running clean except for some small pieces in front of his home next to mine at Campbell’s Pool in Blackville.  Four miles down river at Doctor’s Island the report is, though, that the river was still full of ice.  With rain and snow forecast during the next couple of days the river should be clear as a bell from top to bottom for opening day on 4/15.

12 Comments on “Miramichi Ice Out Report

  1. Brad,

    as a regular at Byron Coughlan’s Lodge I look forward to watching the webcams and getting the first river reports at this time of the year.
    Unfortunately being in the UK, we are in lockdown, I will miss my first trip of the season which is normally at the beginning of May.
    So, please keep the blog up to date and let us have the latest news when it happens.

    Many thanks and kindest regards


    • APS – thank you for your comments. Right now there is no cross border traffic allowed, and I’m worried that my first trip may be canceled too. I will hear about it, though, and get some pictures, so there will be a blog. Hopefully you can make it back later in the year.

      I keep a list of people that I send a notice to when I do a new blog or have other news about the Miramichi and Cains Rivers. I looked but didn’t see your e-mail address on it. If you go to this link to my website, then scroll down to the fish that says Subscribe Here, you can add yourself to the list. It is completely safe and I provide it to no one. Brad

  2. Howdy:
    Got out of FL weeks early ( I was landlocked down there with no place to go, except for a walk)and drove home to MA in 2 days. Good thing wife drives. Crowding 80 make the trip longer every time.
    I feel your pain in possibly not getting to your camp as usual. I always look forward to my first trip of the season – just being there and playing with all the toys is half the fun. I’ve got cabin fever and need your book ASAP. Please send me your address and amt. and I’ll send you a check post haste. Glad to be home, Rick Seder.

  3. Wish my schedule enabled me to join you at your home. Hope all is well with you and yours. So enjoy these posting Brad, now more than ever.
    Be well,

    • Thanks Phil. The dinner and seminar went very well. It seems like a million years ago now. It will be good to eventually put this whole cv thing behind us. Brad

  4. Hi Brad,

    I was texting a friend of mine Jason in Boston who said he had been watching the webcam from time to time at Bullocks, Boisetown as well. I checked it out and was lucky enough to see the ice go at 12.02 today.
    I tried to video it but just missed it. I was able to watch it go out which was very exciting for someone who has never seen it happen before.


  5. Thanks Brad. I always look forward to this ice out photos, knowing that my spring trip is right around the corner. Definitely mixed feelings this year, we’ll miss it! But we can already look forward to the summer!

    • Thanks for the comment Rick. I was hoping to head up for the last three weeks of June. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Brad

  6. Good morning Brad,

    Do you know what the status is of the ice in the river in the Holtville area around Norrad’s Bridge?

    • Greg – Thanks for your comment. I don’t know for sure, but since this is upstream of Boiestown and all is running clear there I would feel quite sure that area is all clear. Bullocks web cam in Boiestown this morning is showing just a few scattered dinner plate or smaller pieces of ice floating down. Brad

  7. Thanks Brad for your photos. I can feel your love of the Miramichi and Cains. I am self quarantined in Sinclair Maine on the side of Long Lake. I drove across country from southern California a week ago. I play my Steinway grand piano most every night overlooking the frozen lake. It is quiet and beautiful. Jack Babson

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