Miramichi Salmon First Week Update

Fishing Friends

Robert Lurche with a cock salmon to match his dad’s henfish from last week.

Diane Cavanagh with a nice Blackville kelt.

We are now one week into the Miramichi Atlantic salmon season, and it has two hallmarks so far.  The first is that the fishing has been very good.  Some say the best in many spring seasons.  The other is that with the early ice out, and the woods empty of snow, the river started out at the relatively low level of 2.5 meters in height, and got down to 1.7 by mid-week.  On top of that several people reported that the river was clear enough to see to the bottom in many places.  That is really quite remarkable for late April.

A wonderfully conditioned early June salmon from 2004. It won’t be long before they will begin to enter the river.

With Wednesday’s rain the river got back up to 2.6 before topping out, and another good rain is expected on Sunday.  This should leave us in pretty good shape for water for the rest of the spring salmon fishing season.  Where we will stand when June 1 rolls around it is impossible to say, but with the early spring a betting man would probably lay odds that we will not have exceptionally high water for the early bright salmon season.  As long as it stays cool enough that may very well be good for fishing.  I’ve seen a number of low water Junes when we had really great fishing.  For one thing it puts the salmon in the pools, and they are more inclined to hold for a little while than to simply run upstream on the high water.  In fact on June 14, 2004 George Watson and I landed two really terrific large, silver salmon back to back at Campbell’s Pool.  We had an unusual problem for June.  There were a lot of fish holding in the heart of the pool, but they were “taking hard” more like fall fish than June salmon.

This week I contacted Upper Oxbow, Wilson’s, Curtis Outfitters, Country Haven, WW Doak, Black Brook Salmon Club, and a number of individuals to get the latest reports on the fishing along with some pics:

Manley Price stopped in to chat with some fishermen in Priceville, a little upriver of Boiestown.  The word was that the water was exceptionally low, but every deep pocket seemed to have a few willing fish in it, and the action was overall quite good.

Karl Wilson and his son with a lovely McNamee kelt. Karl said the action was fantastic.

Karl Wilson of Wilson’s Outfitters in McNamee – said that he and his dad were busy with spring salmon fishermen, and that “Fishing has been very good, lots of fish and a lot of nice salmon all in good shape.  Black and red marabou flies have been producing the best for them.”  Karl had a chance to get out with his son Gage during the middle of the week, and sent in some great pictures.  His exact quote on Thursday was that “we slammed them last evening.”

Brock Curtis of Curtis Miramichi River Outfitters had this to say: “The last two days have been beautiful here on the Miramichi and the angling is still quite good. River levels are dropping and are quite clear. Rain is in the forecast so should help raise the water levels.  Most anglers are asking for the Golden Eagle, Renous special, Black Ghost and Blue Smelt. It all depends on the section of the river you are fishing.  Miss you guys from south of the border.  You’re missing some great fishing. Hope to see you soon.”

Byron Coughlin of Country Haven made these comments: “This fishing season has probably been one of the best, if not the best, so far.  There are so many big fish everywhere.  I had a guy tell me tonight he landed a 40 plus inch salmon, a 40 inch striped bass, and an 18 inch trout plus more, all within 4 hrs of fishing.”

Lady anglers catching fish at Country Haven.









Friends of Byron’s, Axel Lurche and his son Robert, were in the news again.  Do you remember the photo of Axel’s huge hen from my opening day blog?  Check out the enormous cockfish at the top of the page, and the 40-inch striped bass, both caught by son Robert in the same day earlier in the week.

Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Outfitters reported from the NW branch of the Miramichi: “Fishing is very good.  We helped the ASF catch salmon to tag with transmitters so that they can be tracked as they migrate out. All 25 were caught the 1st day. Majority of salmon are by far female and they are very healthy.”

Robert Lurche’s big bass from Quarryville.

Butch Dalton and writer Philip Lee fished a place in Blissfield where they were actually able to drift over a large number of salmon that they could see holding and moving around the pool.  They had fantastic fishing on nice-sized salmon using floating lines.  Butch said the fish were in beautiful condition.

Jerry Doak of WW Doak happily reported that the store was exceptionally busy, and had this to say about the fishing: “This year, with the river ice having cleared out of the Main Southwest well in advance of opening day and most of the snow long gone, the water has been lower and clearer than normal. However, some heavy rainfall last night may change that a bit…Most of the positive reports we have been hearing have been from Doaktown down to Quarryville but then again, this is where the bulk of the fishing activity has been concentrated as well. We are generally hearing reports of more salmon than grilse and many of them in remarkable condition. As for fly patterns, the usual suspects have been in highest demand with the most popular being the Black Ghost, Renous Special, Mickey Finn, Blue Smelt, Grey Ghost and of course the Golden Eagle.”

Eddie Colford of the Black Brook Salmon Club reported that: “First few days were good. But the water got so low from early ice out it has slowed down. You can see the bottom of the river clean across in places.”

Last week’s blog had some good comments, and I thought this one summed up things for a lot of folks: “Although we missed yet another spring season, our friends, guides and our camp caretaker sent remarks and photos of their fishing day in the Carroll’s Crossing area between Doaktown and Boiestown.  They all echoed what the folks all over the river reported – great fishing, beautiful weather, and just happy to be back on the river.

Hope your whispers of an early summer border opening come true as we are aching to get back up to our camp and our friends there.  This was the second time in 39 years we missed out on the spring fishing- last year was the first Dave Townsend Messler’s Salmon Camp.”

Tourism New Brunswick Fish/Hunt Promo – to help the outfitters as well as citizens of the Province, the government is providing a 20% rebate to participating outfitters for stays of two nights or longer, booked by NB residents.  The outfitters mentioned in this blog along with many others are all participating.  Read more about it at this LINK.  What a great way to get in on this spring’s superb action before it is over!

Dawson Hovey and Greg Sprague are undertaking a fascinating project to record interviews with individuals along the river who have historical involvement in the salmon fishery.  I’m sure we will cover that in more detail in future posts.  Dawson stopped by to visit his old friend and long-time Rocky Brook guide Bill MacKay – see Miramichi Mixed Bag Blog from May 2019.  Dawson asked Bill about the largest salmon that he had ever been involved with catching on the Miramichi, and he showed Dawson this wooden cutout of a 29 pound salmon caught at Rocky Brook.  Dawson added this comment: “Now wouldn’t that be fun to have on the end of the line!”

Dawson Hovey holds Bill MacKay’s replica of a 29 pound salmon.

Dawson also sent along this great photo of friends and family fishing at the Kenmore Club upriver from  Boiestown.  The closest man to the camera is Dawson’s son Tristan, and the next one is 10 year old Hudson Hovey, toughing it out in the snow, fishing with the guys.  Great to see!  They caught fish too.

Spring fishing in the snow at the Kenmore Club










Thanks for reading.  Brad Burns


13 Comments on “Miramichi Salmon First Week Update

  1. Brad, always great reading your updates. Looking forward to getting out this weekend. Nice fish dad, might be a little dry 🙂

  2. Thanks for your update Brad … it’s been good fishing so far and heading back next week again for some more fun!

    • Be interesting to see what the rain including Monday’s does. It seems like a few years ago when we would have an early spring the fish would leave the river quite quickly, but last year they were around long into May I heard.

  3. Thanks for this update, Brad. Fond memories of the Big M…..and of that blank day spent in grand company on the Naver! Stay safe and I hope you get back north of the border sooner rather than later……..

    • Great to hear from you Dave. I’m counting on getting back to NB sooner rather than later, and of being on the Naver next March.

  4. barbless hook rules are mandatory this year. maybe they were in the past,not sure!!!!

    • Bill, barbless flies have been required in the spring fishery for many years now, and they still are. I just checked the rule book, and from what I can see the requirement for barbless flies ends on May 16. I’m not an expert on the laws, though, and you should check with the Canadian government for the exact regulations before fishing.

  5. Brad
    Great update. Thanks. Maybe we can join the party this summer.

    • Thanks Roger. I’m getting more and more optimistic. The rate of full vaccinations will be over 50% before long. Maine’s numbers today were half of what they were a week ago.

  6. I loved reading this! It’s so great to see a compilation of reports from the different outfitters in one place, and the photos are fantastic. I live here, but when you aren’t out fishing, it’s easy to be out of the loop on what is happening. Outside of bass fishing, I had no idea that anglers were having such good fishing this year or that the fish were in such great shape. Thanks for keeping us updated and informed on angling in Miramichi!

  7. Great read. I am the large mass, 3rd from front in that last picture. It was indeed a dicey, snowy day!

    • LOL Things have sure changed lots in 60 days. I hope that you are out there after those bright fish. I hear that there are quite a few around.

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