More good news from the Miramichi!

If you have been following my earlier blogs on this season’s run of salmon, and liking the good news, then you will be even happier after you read this report. 


Country Haven angler Chris Avery with a magnificently shaped, early run salmon. Whadda fish!


Yes, it has been hot in New Brunswick, though as Mick Jagger says, “it’s all over now.”  The temperature never did get nearly as hot as New England, and it has been dropping steadily since the afternoon of June 29.  On top of that there were several moderate rain events to help mitigate the warm weather.  The forecast for the next few days is for a much cooler than normal period, and with some amount of rain most days.  In short it sounds ideal.  Both Jason Curtis and Eddie Colford at BBSC report not seeing any dead or distressed fish.

With inter-Province travel only recently liberalized, and with the border to the U.S. still closed, fishing pressure has been light.  Those fortunate enough to get on the river, though, have continued to find some good fishing.   Randall Connors’ Facebook posts of fish caught daily in his pool in Upper Blackville are enough to make you drool.  The good fishing has taken place from Quarryville to Rocky Brook and probably beyond.

Tyler Coughlan and sport with the talk of the river. One of the horde of grilse that has invaded the SWM.

I’ve had good reports from Country Haven, Jason Curtis at Campbell’s, Eddie Colford of the BBSC, and others.  I had planned to contact a couple of the fly shops and other lodges, but when I got the Millerton barrier counts today I decided to hustle right into production with the good – no fabulous – news.  I will say, though, that I heard from Rocky Brook with their guests just beginning to fish that there are fish in all their pools and far up the brook itself.  The grilse catch is running three to one over salmon, and there are plenty of salmon.

Let me build up to it.  First, the report from the Dungarvon barrier which is being managed for the Province by the Miramichi Salmon Assoc.  The Dungarvon is a large tributary of the Renous, which in turn is a tributary of SW Miramichi about the same size as the Cains River.

The total for the season through Sunday, June 27 is 33 which compares to just 18 at the same time last year.  Perhaps most uplifting in this information is that the small salmon count is 15 compared to just 3 last year.  These fish are predominately 2 MSW maiden spawners, and they are females that will be very important spawners this fall.  Not only is the large number of these fish wonderful news, but they further validate that last year’s grilse run, which was not measured, was as good as we thought.  These 2 MSW hens are essentially the female component of that run – the grilse being largely the males.  We still have a long way to go for the season, but it is a very strong early showing.

Second are the trap numbers at Millerton and Cassilis through June 30.  Fish would have been counted today at lunch time, and DFO had them posted by the middle of the afternoon!

Millerton is run by DFO and they report only grilse or salmon.  62 salmon have been captured in the trap since June 30.  Unlike Dungarvon this trap is not a barrier, and it captures only a portion of the run, about 5% of the salmon.  That means that around 1,200 salmon have already entered the SW Miramichi.  The number 62 compares to 23 in 2019 and 31 in 2018.  It also compares to 56 as the average of 2008 to 2012, and it is more than twice as large as in any other similar period dating back to 1998!  Now it is possible that we are stealing with this early spring from the run that we should have in July, and we shall just have to wait to see if that is true.

The SWM salmon numbers are on line 7. The NWM is just above it.

But the grilse numbers are even more impressive!  Millerton had 214 through June 30 compared to 38 in 2019 and just 21 in 2018.  The mighty years of 2008 through 2012 had 154.  Remember those giant grilse runs of the early 2000s?  From 2003 to 2007 the average was 121.  2021 to date is almost twice that many!  Clearly so far the SW Miramichi run is one of the best of modern times.

Look at line 7 to see the grilse numbers for the SW Miramichi

The numbers at Cassilis for the NW Miramichi aren’t bad, but they are only slightly better than most recent years and well below the better years of the early 2000s.  If you are so inclined this link will take you to the site where these statistics/graphics come from.  There is also more interesting info on there for other rivers as well.  Most of it isn’t updated just yet.  The DFO staff probably couldn’t wait to post the good news from the SWM, and I don’t blame them.

That’s probably as much info as any of us can absorb for right now.  What we really want is to be driving into camp right now.  If you are from the U.S. or Europe, that ain’t happening right away.  When, who knows?  Hopefully Mr. Trudeau is waiting to give us all some surprise good news.

Thanks for reading.

Brad Burns

PS  Don’t forget, the regulations call for barbless hooks and a limit of two released fish per day.


16 Comments on “More good news from the Miramichi!

  1. Excellent report Brad. Thanks for sharing the positive news. Fingers crossed for the border to open soon.

  2. Thank you Brad,
    In all very encouraging news, looking forward to spending time on the water.

    Thank you for consolidating the number, very much appreciated.

    Best Regards,

    • Dana – As you can probably tell I’m very excited about the numbers to date. Some things do seem to be happening earlier this year. For instance the tree swallows arrived at my house in Maine right on time, and they were late arriving in Blackville, NB. But the birds using our nesting boxes at both locations fledged several days ahead of normal this year for the first time I can ever remember. Striped bass migrating up the coast into Maine were right on time this year, and not a bit earlier than normal. I suspect we are just looking at a really good run, but time will tell. Brad

      • As someone who is not a fisherman (yet), but interested in the health of aquatic systems, this website is fascinating. Thank you.

  3. Was fishing sea trout on Irving section of North branch,landed limit of small sea trout, 12-14 inches but landed a nice grilse at Flat pool the 28th. good release

  4. Brad:
    So happy for you for the good news. You will be kickin’ A– soon. I’m with you in spirit. Thanks for your blogs. Rick.

  5. Based on the sea trout reports I’ve heard around Juniper, the run didn’t seem to be earlier this year either. It may even have been a week late. As Doug reports, grilse have also made it up the North Branch. I had a friend who caught a few over a couple of days fishing below West Brook. Let’s hope the salmon numbers you reported are not an anomaly due to an early run.
    FYI, my tree swallows arrived and mated on time. Chicks haven’t left the nest box yet.

    • Kent – thanks for the excellent reports and observations. It is wonderful to have some good news to talk about. Brad

  6. Reports like this almost make up for not being able to fish. Can’t wait to get up there as soon as possible.

  7. Thanks for the report… very much appreciated (especially the great news!)

  8. Thanks for your report, Brad. I’ve been following you now for a couple of years. Local lad who loves to swing a fly.

    – JB

    • Thanks for your note John. Better get out there in the next day or so, sounds like we are going to get a big raise. Brad

  9. Thanks for the reports, Brad.

    Just spent 3 days/2 nights at the Oriole. Hooked up the first night and landed a small but feisty grilse, jumped twice.

    My buddy saw one jump from the camp dinner table as we ate Tuesday night, but no further luck.

    He moved a fish or two, as well. The count numbers are encouraging, if I had one observation it is we don’t see fish jumping like we did up until a few years ago.

    Best to all this summer. Support our fly shops in Doaktown and Blackville!

    Nate J

    • Nathan – thanks for the note. A lot of salmon have gone up the system so far this season, I’m surprised that you are not seeing more fish. The water was dirty for a bit after that last rain, perhaps that was the issue.
      We will continue to mention Doak’s and Curtis in our blogs. They are both great establishments. The best thing that could be done to help them is to open the border. Brad

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