Miramichi Atlantic Salmon Report




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. The temperature forecast for the week in Doaktown is for below normal highs and around normal lows.  The water is at a perfect height of 1.45 meters.  Showers are forecast daily, so the height should maintain this week.  Good time to be on the river.


May 25th  Not much to add since May 23,  just lot’s more striped bass, but water levels on the Miramichi have dropped to 1.7 meters, their lowest levels since the spring freshet began.  The river is getting in shape for  the arrival of bright salmon, the migration upstream of sea run brook trout, and the movements of other anadromous fish including gaspereau and shad.

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.


The first bright ones and sea run brookies may now only be two to three weeks or so away.

Here are a couple of spring fishing photos from Eddie Colford of BBSClub and Byron Coughlin of Country Haven.


BBSC in Tuesday’s snow.


Ian Cavanagh


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.


Increased grilse numbers are the word for this season. Jason Curtis caught and released this beauty on the Southwest Miramichi in Blackville.

Pete Howell with Campbell’s Pool’s first salmon of 2019. Caught on 6/24, Jason Curtis guiding.

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

Water on the Miramichi is at ..88 meters and dropping.  I didn’t take the water temp yesterday, but it is cold probably around 8C/47F. Conditions are good.  A major rain is forecast for the 17th, but fishing is over on most rivers.  There are a number of small NB rivers that are open until the end of the month.


We are using mostly medium and large flies, especially the traditional reds and oranges of fall.  Big marabou slime flies have traditionally worked well at this time, especially in slower pools.  Green and purple are popular colors for marabou, though I’ve done well with orange too.  Traditional black flies and the venerable Green Machines in #4,6 will also wor