Miramichi Atlantic Salmon Report




Jason Curtis with a 4th of July grilse. He said the pool was lousy with them!

July 12th The Miramichi valley and some of the Cains received a third of an inch of rain during Saturday’s storm, and the river has risen to .75 meters in Blackville – a good fishing height – and showers are forecast off and on all week.  The river is warm this morning at 22C/73F, a little too warm for good fishing, but not hot enough to be any real problem for the fish.  A decided drop in temperature takes place on Monday evening and four very seasonally cool days are forecast to follow.  One morning the low temp is forecast at 7C/44F!  There should be some good fishing into the weekend when it will warm up again.  There are lots of salmon and especially grilse all through the system, so if you can, get out there and fish!

July 7/8 The weather didn’t get as warm as forecast, and the good run of salmon and especially grilse continues.  At time, and in places, the fishing has actually been downright hot action.  There seem to be plenty of MSW salmon too, but the big talk is the grilse run which appears to be much stronger than previous recent years.  The other evening Jason Curtis hooked 5, landed 3, and had numerous pulls, rolls and splashes at his John Olin fly.  Water has been stable in height at around .61 to .66 meters and moderately warm – a given for July – but not too hot for fishing.  Most days the temps have dropped below 20C/68F and rise a few degrees during the day.  The mornings would certainly have the best fishing most days. The cold water pools are closed and are likely to remain so for a while.

July 2 The cooling trend mentioned last week came to an end and we have had a couple of days with hot afternoons that have the water temps back up and so the cold water pools are still all closed and probably will remain that way.  I’m hearing that the good run of grilse this year continues, but with the water in the 70s most of the time the fish are moving in low light, and headed for the big cold water pools or the headwaters areas.   It actually looks pretty good with some cloud, showers, and average temps over the next four days coming up, but we need a stretch of cool rainy weather to really make a difference.  

June 27 As stated yesterday a cooling trend is continuing with day marking the first of 5 or 6 days in which showers are forecast.  We desperately need it.  Check out this graphic generated by NB Dept of Nat Resources DNR from the barriers maintained by the MSA.  The run to date in the NWM is dramatically larger than last year – 60 salmon of various sizes compared to just 9 last year.  One week does not a season make, but it is a great start.  In spite of the warm water the reports are all of seeing quite a few salmon and grilse. 

June 26 The news is all about the weather because in this unprecedented warmth for mid June there has been no salmon fishing.  DFO has temporarily closed all the cold water pools.  That should end in a few days as showers and cooler than normal temps are forecast over the next week.  Water and air temps this morning are the coolest since the heat wave began about a week ago,  but that is still over 72F.  Fish have reportedly been entering the river in decent numbers.  The water height at .63 meters is by far the lowest I have seen or heard of for this date.

June 21 The earliest heat wave in memory gripped NB over the last few days.  At its worst water temps soared into the low 80s.  It is too early for this, and thankfully nature appears to agree.  Yesterday, unexpectedly, stayed in the low 20s, and last night temps dipped to around 10C dropping the water back to under 20c.  We have a couple of warm unsettled days ahead of us, hopefully with some rain, and then what is forecast to be a long stretch of slightly below normal highs and showery/rainy weather.  That should put us in good shape for the height of the early salmon run.

This has been an exceptional year for shad and for river herring or gaspereaux.  More numbers of both appeared in the Miramichi than seen in many years.  The early indications of salmon too have been heartening.  I’ve received a number of reports of salmon caught and of salmon jumping in the pools.  There just isn’t a lot of fishing going on with Covid regulations still prohibiting even property owners from the United States to enter.

June 9 No reports of recently caught bright fish.  Willy Bacso used to pick the date of June 12 as the first consistent availability of bright salmon.  That is coming up quickly.  Temperatures are going to moderate later in the week to the higher side of normal, and water levels in the SWM are now below one meter in height.  That is a little low for this time of year, and the water will warm up quickly.  The only rain in the forecast for the next week is showers.  It looks like very good conditions coming up to catch a June salmon on the Miramichi.

June 7 Reports are trickling in of a few more bright salmon.  All that I am hearing about are from the NW branch.  Jason Curtis has been keeping an eye on the SW Miramichi in Blackville, but has yet to catch another bright fish.  The water temp gauge is not functioning, and may not this year, so I’ll have to resort to occasional reports.  It is fine, though.  Weather along the Miramichi is moderate to cool and forecast to remain that way for the next week anyway.  Water levels are now down to 1.17 meters and dropping after a little rain and thundershowers.  Conditions are very good.  No good word on when fishermen from outside Canada will be able to go fishing on the Miramichi.

June 1 – yesterday, on May 31 Jason Curtis caught the first May bright salmon since 2013 in Campbell’s Pool in Blackville.  The fish was about 12 pounds and was caught on a green machine.  In our current mini drought water height has slipped to 1.35 meters, a great height for this time of the season.  There was frost in many places last night and will be again tonight.  This will really cool the river back down from last weeks heat wave.  The table is set for more early, bright fish.  I wish I was there to cast for them.

May 30 – with the warm up this week striped bass spawning activity has gone to the max.  Stripers are seem exhibiting spawning behavior in several place on the SW Miramichi as well as the NW.  We hear that they are spawning in calm place here and there from the mouth of Cains all the way down to Quarryville.  We’ve heard that DFO estimates the striped bass run this year to be down, but you wouldn’t know it from reports that we are seeing.

We still haven’t heard of a bright Miramichi salmon yet, and a few people are out trying.  Jason Curtis fished some good spots on the SW today and saw no sign.  He did, though, get this 19.5″ sea run brook trout at the mouth of Cains River today.  Jason observed what he said was a good push heading up river.

May 23

It has finally warmed up quite a bit, and that caused me to check the water temperature gauge in Doaktown.  It is not working yet.  I’ll check and see when, or given the current world circumstances, if it will begin working for 2020.  Fishing has been pretty good on the Miramichi, in any case, and Byron Coughlin sent me pictures of kelts, sea run brook trout and striped bass all taken from down in the Quarryville area within the last few days.  Those trout will now be starting to move upriver.  Stripers I understand have been spotty with some terrific catches made on one day, and then the fish hard to find another.  The salmon kelts have been feeding and some of them are starting to look like bright fish.  I’ve included a photo of one such fish being held by Tyler Coughlin.  It looks to be in excellent condition.











The water height gauge in Blackville hasn’t reported since May 20th, but looking at the past weather and the trajectory I would say that we are finally dipping below 2 meters and on our way a good height to see the first bright fish anytime now.  Last year I tried for them around the 27th of May and while I didn’t catch one I did see one jump clear of the water at Campbell’s.  A bright May fish is the top prize of all Miramichi salmon fishing.

May 18th

Not much has changed in the last few days.  Jason Curtis did tell me that he hears that there are still quite a few black salmon around in the Blackville area though he has been working on camps and boats and not fishing.  The water is holding pretty well and is still at 2.55 meters.  It should drop quite a lot during the coming week decent temperatures and with no rain forecast.

May 15th

Today is the end of the spring salmon season.  You can still angle for spring salmon or kelts after this, but instead of being allowed to release 10 per day you must now stop after 4 which is the regulation for bright fish.  This year, though, there are still lots of kelts in the lower part of the river.  Byron Coughlin of Country Haven said two anglers at his place this morning had limits of salmon and grilse in three hours down in Quarryville.  The fish were nicely colored and very filled out, undoubtedly chowing down on smelts.  Since it has been cold the stripers have been mostly further down in the estuary, and that leaves the smelts for the salmon.

The river is still holding in there at about 2.6 meters, a strong height, and but there are only showers forecast over the next week, so I expect by week’s end we will be down under 3 meters.   The water is still cold, and the MSA’s Mark Hambrook reported that there have been very few fish in the smolt wheels since the run just isn’t moving yet in the high 30F water.  That should also change over this next week.  We are probably only two weeks away from the first bright salmon.

May 10th

It is a sure bet that not many were out fishing yesterday in freezing temperatures, snow, and hurricane winds.  Today more flurries are forecast, but on Monday it starts to warm up.  Byron Coughlin did tell me that the days before the storm he had clients down in Quarryville catching and releasing both salmon and sea run brookies.  Apparently there are also a fair number of striped bass down there too including some big ones, and lots more further down in the estuary.

At 2.6 meters the river is a bit high for coming into mid May, and there is some rain forecast for a couple of days from now.  Between snow melt and rain it won’t be down to bright salmon levels for a while yet.  Here is a picture from the Blackville highway web cam this morning.  It looks like January.

May 7th report below

Water  height in Blackville topped out at 3.8 meters back on the fourth and is now down to under 3 meters.  With more rain and even snow is in the forecast for the next week with temperatures 4 to 6C below normal day and night, it sure feels like mid April spring salmon fishing weather, except that it is mid May.  Some reports that I am getting say that fishing has slowed quite a but earlier today Byron Coughlin of Country Haven said that two of his guides landed 8 salmon and 6 grilse in a few hours last evening.  It seems that a lot of the run found conditions favorable to exit the river, but clearly there are plenty still left in the Miramichi.

Jason Curtis reported last week seeing kelts jumping in the middle of the river.  That has long be acknowledged as the beginning of the end of kelt fishing for the year as it signifies fish simply headed down river, and not holding where they might be caught by casting. It will be interesting to see the timing of the smolt run – which was more or less normal last year – and the striped bass spawning which was a week late.


2019 End of Season Report

Yesterday was the close of the 2019 season.  My party caught no salmon yesterday, and that ended the toughest October I’ve known in my 17 seasons on the river.   After 9/30 the salmon and grilse run really slowed down, and it seemed that the salmon we did contact were intent on moving quickly up the river.  Hopefully the headwaters have collected a good supply of spawners and the Miramichi system will again produce a strong year class of young fish.

In a few days we’ll have the 10/15 trap numbers.   As soon as possible I’ll put together a season wrap up blog.  I’ll be busy, though, as the copy edited text of On The Cains is waiting for me to review.  It needs to be back to the publisher in a week.  Thanks for following these reports throughout the season.

Harvey Wheeler with authentic Cains River hookbill.


WATER LEVELS AND TEMP:  Note Degrees in F = 1.8C + 32

Water on the Miramichi 7/10 is at .8 meters and rising slowly.  Water temp is currently 22C/73F.


Fly sizes right now would be in the #8 area, but even smaller may be required in some situations.  This is a great height and time of the season for bombers.