Miramichi Atlantic Salmon Report

 


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THE DATE OF THIS MIRAMICHI ATLANTIC SALMON REPORT IS: October 17, 2020

The season is closed under April 15, 2021

WATER LEVELS AND TEMP:  .95M 10C/50F  Note Degrees in F = 1.8C + 32

The water level on the Blackville gauge is at .65 meters and rising fast after the Miramichi and Cains watersheds received about 2 inches of desperately needed rain during the 13th/14th.  The temperature is quite cool in the high 40s as would be expected at this time of the season.  .

FLY CHOICES:

Wet fly sizes right now can be the large, bright fall streamers in the #2,4  area.  A sink tip doesn’t hurt anything.

FISHING REPORT:

October 17 – the season ended with a good raise of water starting to drop off and a run of fresh fish heading into the river while other salmon were seen jumping down in tidewater.  It was a tough year on fishing conditions but a good year for the salmon overall.  Spring fishing should be good in 2021.

October 14 – Jason Curtis, head guide at Campbell’s, fished the Keenan shoreline yesterday morning and the Brophy Pool in the afternoon.  There was a considerable amount of fish jumping and rolling and generally on the move throughout the day.  He bumped and rolled numerous salmon and landed his limit without ever changing away from a #4 Chief Needahbeh streamer.  Others all over the river reported similar results.  Some of these were brown fish just moving from pool to pool, but Jason also reported seeing silvery bright fish jumping also as new fish were clearly entering the system.

October 11 – there was about a half inch of rain across  the watershed last night.  That will produce a small raise that should dramatically improve the fishing and bring in more fresh fish.  Country Haven posted a picture of a bright fall salmon caught a day or so ago in tide water.  Statistically this is the historical height of the fall run.

October 10 – On spite of the consistently lowest water anyone has ever seen on the SW Miramichi there are a decent number of fish in many of the pools, and many of them are fresh.  Fishing has been quite good.  Now is the time as the season will be closed for 2020 in just another 5 days.

October 6  – reports from Doaktown and Blackville are of excellent fishing right now.  The water is up just a little, though still very low, and there are taking fish in many of the pools.  Country Haven reported an 18 pounder in Blackville last night.  If you’ve been waiting now is the time.

There are videos on Facebook of striped bass crowding into shallow water down in the Rapids.  I’m sure this is because the salinity is too high in the estuary where they normally stack up at this time of the year.

September 22 – ditto the remarks of Sept 17 except that the few fish in residence are even less likely to take than in the past.

Sept 17 – read the last few below and you will still have it.  There are stale salmon in the better low water pools, but without some freshening up from rain you have to be pretty lucky to raise one.

September 10 – the report is much like the one below except that the water height is back to the lowest of the season.  It is impossible to exaggerate how low and dry it is.  Fishing is really on hold until things change, and there is very little change in the two week forecast.

September 6 – since the last report there was the tiniest bit of rain over just a few areas of the watershed.  Levels had dropped back to among the lowest of the year, but have then recovered a couple of inches to back in the .42  range.  The only fish around now are the ones holding in the deep pools.  The fall run hasn’t begun due to the low water, and fresh fish are simply not entering the system due to this condition.  Everything is really on hold until we get some rain.  While the extent of the drought is severe the lowest part of the Miramichi salmon run historically is the month of August and the first 10 days or so of September.  Then the fish usually start to move in based on the amount of rain.  There is next to nothing in this weeks forecast, but things can change.  Pray for rain.

August 30 – Water on the Miramichi 8/30 is up a little at .44  meters.  That is still very low, but the watershed just got nearly a half inch of rain yesterday, so it will recover a little more in the next couple of days..  The Cains is even lower than the main river.  Water temp this morning is 16C/61F and there is no heat in sight.  Jason Curtis reported 4 salmon and grilse for two anglers in Blackville on Friday using bombers.  They rolled and touched other fish and saw a few free rolling, so there is action to be had.  With Saturday’s rain fishing will improve.

 

 

August 22 – the river is very low, but cool, and while fresh fish won’t be entering until we see some rain, the fish holding in the cold water pools are moving and taking flies.

August 17 – in the last few days the river has cooled down to just plain normal summer warm.  Water is very low, and all the cold water pools are still closed by DFO and will be until we have three 20C/68F days in a row.  That probably won’t happen in the near future.  With next to zero new fish entering in this ultra low, warm water, and the cold water pools closed, salmon fishing is really at a standstill.  Temperatures are now becoming tolerable again after a very warm summer, but we must have a good, heavy rain to start a few fresh fish moving back in to the river.

July 31 – the cold water pools are still closed, but the river has cooled down a bit in the last couple of days with several large thunderstorms that have given needed rain to the Miramichi.  The Cains is very low, and the rains seem to have all gone north of the headwaters areas, but the lower portions have gotten some.  The Miramichi is cool enough now, and there are enough fish around, that at least mornings, or on rainy days there is a chance of catching a salmon.  The forecast for virtually all of next week is for cooler, showery weather with below normal daytime temps and warmer than the long-term average at night.  This means that overall fishing conditions should continue to improve, and we may see the coldwater pools opened.  It is August, though, and this is the time when the runs are at their lowest summer ebb.

July 25th – I’ve left the report from the 17th below to show you what a difference a week can make.  That brief opening – the colder water pools are all closed again and won’t open for some time – provided some great fishing for a lucky few.  The water temperatures haven’t been below 21C/70F day or night since the the last  report.   That’s where they are this Saturday morning, and this is the coolest it has been, and it is too warm for good fishing.  Also the water is very low at .47 meters in Blackville.  Some showers are forecast over this next week.  Let us hope they come through and that some are bigger than forecast.  This is  the time to head for the beach and pass on salmon fishing until we get a significant change in weather.

The last Dungarvon and NW Miramichi Barrier reports – which as limited as they are, are the only ones we have to work with – showed continued but slowing movements of fish into these rivers.  Both counts are well ahead of last year.

July 17th The air temp this morning is 10C/50F in Doaktown, and the water is at 19C/66F.  It has been much cooler than that the last few mornings, with some areas along  the Miramichi seeing air in the since digits C or high 30s F!  There are some warmer days ahead with next Monday appearing really hot, but generally speaking the largely moderate July looks to be continuing.  The cold water pools have reopened and fishing near some of these has been nothing short of world class with very impressive catches of grilse and large salmon.  Two anglers in one prime location landed 7 salmon, lost 5 and rolled and touched many others – spectacular.  This is  the kind of fishing that July can produce given a break in the weather.

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.