Two Important Messages Regarding Miramichi Salmon

We’ve turned the corner on old man winter. It won’t be long now before we are again looking at scenes like this one of guide Jason Curtis poling angler Jerome Robinson on the Cains River.  This painting by Luther Hall to be auctioned for the benefit of the MSA on Feb. 4th.  Bidding either in person or via zoom.

Fishing Friends:

Here are two important messages for everyone who is interested in the future of Miramichi River Atlantic salmon and salmon fishing.  First, we are making a last call for ticket sales to the MSA US 70th Anniversary Winter Event being held at the Portland Country Club in Falmouth, Maine on Feb 4th.  Note that you can also attend this event virtually via zoom.  What a great Saturday night winter get together with your fishing buds!  Split the cost of the ticket, Zoom in and put it on a big screen, get some yummy take-out, and enjoy the event.  You can read all about the program and purchase tickets at this link to the MSA website.  The MSA is the organization whose every effort is to protect the Miramichi River’s population of Atlantic salmon and the recreational fishery that it provides.  I’ll be at the event, and working right alongside our zoom hostess and MSA president Robyn McCallum, so we’ll get to say hello to everyone who attends.  We hope to see you there.

Second, last week’s blog shared a letter that I wrote to the Ministers of DFO and Rural Economic Development, asking them to instruct the Moncton office of DFO to allow the MSA to begin large scale stocking of salmon fry spawned from broodstock grown from wild Miramichi smolts.  That letter is in the last blog, and you can view it just by back-arrowing out of this blog and reading the next one down on the list dated 1/13/23.

I have had quite a few people tell me that they wrote the Ministers, and I applaud anyone who has taken the time to do so.  I want to share with you the letter below which is from Byron “Byzie” Coughlan, owner of Country Haven Lodge on the Miramichi.  Even though I know Byron’s operation quite well I still wasn’t prepared for the statistics in his letter:  “450 to 475 guests a year, coming from every Province in Canada, 48 US States, and 14 other countries.”  My lord, what a boon to Blackville, NB.  DFO should be calling him, and asking what they can do to help the fishery that he depends on.

Last week I listened in on a seminar by Kurt Samways, the Parks Canada Research Chair in charge of rebuilding Atlantic salmon populations in Canadian parks in NB, NS, PEI and Nwfld.  Mr. Samways was diplomatic in his comments, but it was clear that even some of the federal parks officials find DFO less than accommodating to their efforts to rebuild struggling salmon runs.  So we are not alone in our frustration.

Here is Byron Coughlan’s letter:


Dear Ministers Joyce Murray and Gudie Hutchings:

I am writing to express my support for the recently posted blog letter to the Federal Ministers of Fisheries and of Rural Economic Development and to request your immediate action.   This letter can be found on the Brad Burns Fly Fishing Blog at

My name is Byron Coughlan and I am the owner/operator of Country Haven Miramichi,, the largest family owned, Atlantic Salmon fishing outfitter in New Brunswick.  We have been in operation for 25 years now & currently employ 12 people. Each year we welcome hundreds of guests who travel from around the world each year to fish for New Brunswick’s wild Atlantic Salmon.  In a normal year we host between 450 to 475 guests with the vast majority coming from the United States and Europe.  As an example, in 2015, we had guests from every province in Canada, 48 US states & 14 other countries, all in a quest to hook an Atlantic Salmon.  These guests pay a premium to fly fish the waters of the Miramichi watershed and while they are in our province they spend thousands of dollars on food, accommodation, car rentals and retail shopping.  For many of these guests, they have been coming generationally and appreciate the importance and value of wild Atlantic Salmon and share our concerns, as expressed by Mr. Burns.  We are only one of many outfitters on the river system who also cater to international guests and share a similar story to our way of life.   We are contributing our voice to this important matter Mr. Burns has raised, as our livelihood and more broadly, our community depends on this natural resource to survive.  We genuinely hope that DFO will take notice of Mr. Burns’ letter to the Minister, and undertake positive steps to help the wild Atlantic Salmon population grow.  We support Mr. Burns’ suggestion of increasing the stocking of the system with fry and see it as an easy and doable way of having a positive impact on the fishery.   It is worth noting that our guests come here to fish for Atlantic Salmon and not striped bass and even though that has become a viable recreational fishery as well, it should not come at the expense of our salmon fishery and way of life.

Mr. Burns has undertaken a serious effort to draw attention to the crisis situation regarding the recreational fishery for Atlantic Salmon, specifically on the Miramichi River watershed in New Brunswick.  DFO’s published mandate includes:

  • sustainably managing fisheries and aquaculture
  • working with fishers, coastal and Indigenous communities to enable their continued prosperity from fish and seafood
  • ensuring that Canada’s oceans and other aquatic ecosystems are protected from negative impacts

I would fully agree with Mr. Burns, that as it pertains to Atlantic Salmon, DFO is not currently delivering on its mandate in these areas and that more must be done by DFO, with urgency, to enhance the population of Atlantic Salmon.   This is not a new issue however we believe that the situation has been, and continues to be simply a distraction for DFO as opposed to one of it’s priorities.  Not-withstanding the fact our guests are Atlantic Salmon fishers, this letter is in no way in opposition to the current Striped Bass recreational fishery per se, as the two diadromous species have always coexisted in the Miramichi system.  The ask is for DFO to strive to maintain a healthy balance between the two and at the moment that simply appears not to be the case.

As Mr. Burns lays out, by simply providing approval to increase the current level of salmon fry stocking, DFO could demonstrate tangible action in support of this fishery.  DFO has placed appropriate focus on restoring Pacific Salmon stocks on the west coast of Canada and we are requesting that the same level of attention and effort be undertaken in support of the Miramichi Atlantic Salmon recreational fishery as well.  It is of great historical importance to our region not to mention a very meaningful economic engine of rural New Brunswick.

I fully support Mr. Burns letter and the call to action for DFO, and would respectfully request that you begin to address this matter with the utmost urgency and seriousness.


Byron Coughlan Owner/Operator

Country Haven Miramichi

601 Route #118

Gray Rapids, NB, Canada E9B 1G9


I hope that Byron’s letter prompts those of you who have not yet written your own letter to do so.  Please feel free to borrow anything from either Byron’s letter or mine.  The more in your own words, though, the better.  This is not a writing contest.  These policy makers just want to know how you feel.  The more direct and clear your language the better.

Here is a link to a list of policy makers that you should send your comments to.  CA political contacts e-mail The two ministers e-mail address should go in the To… area of the address bar, and you should CC… the rest of these individuals to let them know how you feel in the hope that they too will advocate strongly with DFO for the Miramichi and its salmon.

Thanks for reading.

Brad Burns

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