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Last week

(Last Updated: Thursday 29 September)

Big, fall-run henfish from the Cains.

September 27 - we had considerable up and downs in water height plus some big wind from Fiona.   Still we had some periods of good salmon fishing with some nice henfish being landed.  It looks dry coming up, and we may soon see lower water conditions which' slow down the run, and are good for our fishing

September 19 The fall run is now entering the Miramichi.  We are seeing good numbers of new fish moving up the river every morning and evening.  Needed rain is forecast for the coming week.  There are lots of fish holding throughout the lower stretches of the Cains. Don't miss this fall's Miramichi salmon fishing. 
September 5 The weather broke on September 1 with rain and cooler temps.  It feels like fall out there now, and water temps have been dropping all week.  Conditions on the Miramichi are quite good for early fall fishing.  Black Brook and Country Haven both reported good numbers of fish, some sea-liced, with some large males in the mix.  The forecast for the next week is seasonable with crisp nights and warm afternoons.  It's time to get up to the Miramichi for some fall fishing.  

August 29 We are just finishing up that time in the Miramichi season when fresh arrivals into the river normally hit the lowest point for the season.  It is hard to say what triggers the start of the fall run, but statistically it begins the second week in September, and peaks the first week in October.  Unless there is a really big rain these fall fish normally work their way up the river holding briefly at various pools along the way.  In many ways this is the Miramichi at its best.  I hope that you have signed up for the rod alerts, and that you are booked in for a fishing trip this fall.  There will never be enough Miramichi fall fishing trips in an angler's lifetime.  Whether you go for the intimacy of the NW, the broad pools of the Main SW, or the much heralded Cains River, don't hesitate.  Book that trip today! 

I'll be in my camp on the Miramichi from September 7th until the season closes on October 15.  I write a daily fishing report while I am in camp - well, most days anyway - and you will be able to find it by selecting Salmon Report from the menu at the top of the page on my website.  Here is the link Brad Burns Fishing | Book, Blog and more.  

August 22 Temps have trended up in recent days, but are not horrible.  The weather is forecast that should set the stage by the end of week for more fall like weather with cool nights below 50F.  Fishing should be good for Labor Day weekend.

August 19 Rains and cooler temps opened up the cold water pools and fishing has been quite good with some Fisk on the move in higher water.  

August 7  The Miramichi region has been under a period of extreme warmth for nearly three weeks.  The government closed all of the cold water sanctuary pools under their warm water protocol regulation.  That is currently the case, and temps today are forecast to reach 32C/89F.  This is also supposed to be the end of the heat.  Rain is forecast later today and for the next two days, and temps tomorrow and Tuesday are forecast to be around 18C/64F with low teens at night.  It is possible we will be back to normal by later in the week.  

August 2  The warm summer doldrums continue, but with either an end or at least a significant pause forecast to begin this coming Sunday.  We will soon be two months past the summer solstice and days are growing noticeably shorter.  This will usher in the late summer and fall fishing that the Miramichi is most famous for.  Up until the warm weather beginning back at mid July it was a good season for the fish as decent numbers of salmon and grilse entered a river that provided consistently good levels of water for upstream migration.  

July 24 It was another week of high water that brought with it some interesting results.  Salmon have been caught in numbers much further up the Cains tributary than normal.  Catches in the main river were fairly slow for the most part due warm weather causing water to rise above 70F.  That warm weather is going to continue now for most of the upcoming week, and then it is not forecast to be cool enough to really bring back good conditions.  These summer doldrums come around most ever summer.  The number of both salmon and grilse being counted in the governments fish trap show that a much above average run when compared to recent seasons is in progress.  Hopefully this all bodes well for a good fall run.  

July 14 Fishing has been good as water heights are still higher than normal at more than .8M, and fresh fish continue to arrive.  There are more than a few large specimens like the one held above by local angler Ashley Hallihan.  Water temperatures are rishing, though, and next week's forecast is for much warmer than ideal temperatures that may end with DFO closing all the cold water pools.  We'll have to see what materializes, but there isn't any rain in the forecast to add additional buffering.  It happens every summer..  

July 8  The CA government released trap counts for the MSW Miramichi as of June 30.  They were the best for all times frames listed for salmon, though below last year for grilse.  The river is staying cool and the forecast through mid month looks good.

July 3  For cold water holding pools like Black Brook it was a solid week, but for most camps it was unexpectedly tough   Very few new fish we're moving, and a couple of hot days put water temperatures over the edge.  Things did pick up today so hopefully this is the start of the famous second week in July.

June 27 It's been a very good week.  Good numbers of big salmon and a few grilse were seen and caught.  Water is finally getting down to decent fishing levels.  
June 19 A few more salmon have come from both the SW and NW branches of the Miramichi. Upper Oxbow reported that on Friday anglers hooked four fish, but every one came off.  Fish are still passing rapidly through the lower SW branch where water has been high and traveling conditions perfect.  We saw 4 jumpers this morning at Campbells, and it felt like numbers are improving.  
June 8 Country Haven lodge owner Byron Coughlan reported on June 7 that their lodge had caught the first bright salmon for an outfitting lodge on the river.  The pool wasn't mentioned, but Country Haven catches a lot of early run fish in the Upper Blackville area where they have several good high water pools.  I have other creditable reports of bright fish being seen.  Not many anglers have been out trying, but I expect that will soon change.  

Based on 2021 good grilse numbers this fish from CH is one of what we hope will be many 2 MSW virgin spawners entering the Miramichi in 2022.

Based on 2021 good grilse numbers this fish from CH is one of what we hope will be many 2 MSW virgin spawners entering the Miramichi in 2022.

June 5 I'll add to the June 1 report which is below that I have heard of several other May salmon for the Miramichi, but have heard nothing so far for June.  Undoubtedly this is because only a very few serious anglers are out there trying, and some of them keep it all close to the vest.  The water has come down to 1.3 meters, the top end of good fishing heights for this time of the year.  It was up to 3 meters just a week ago, and that probably didn't help catches any.  More rain is forecast for later in the week - as it should be - and temps are forecast to be cool.  I'm going to arrive at camp on June 10 and will be able to give first hand reports starting then.  

No more salmon reports, though the Matapedia in Quebec - an earlier run river - has been doing exceptionally well.  Most Miramichi anglers have been fishing in the lower stretches for striped bass which are very abundant.  Additionally a heavy period of cold rain brought the Miramichi back up to early spring heights.  That is now subsiding, but it is still high and the water is just above 50 degrees.  This will slowly moderate over the next few days, and hopefully we will see an uptick in both effort and catch of early, bright salmon.    

May 23 

Great early run hen salmon caught on 5/22 May 22 in Blissfield and Miramichi wizard Colin Gilks

Great early run hen salmon caught on 5/22 May 22 in Blissfield and Miramichi wizard Colin Gilks

I would have said that we were between fisheries with the first bright salmon scouts to be caught near the end of the month, and everyone busy with brook trout or striped bass down by the head of tide.  This beauty, though, decided on an early run and Colin was out there to intercept it, something he has specialized in over the years.  

One theory is that very early fish like this are like the beginning edges of a bell curve, and catching any early arrivals like this suggest a bigger bell - run of salmon - to take place durring the season.  Let us hope that is true.  

I was 20 miles up the Cains River fishing the areas around Muzzerol, Six Mile, and Mahoney Brook for brook trout.  We were a little too early for sea runs though my friend Tristan Hovey caught a nice one near Blissfield.  Trout fishing overall was mediocre, but I had one very excellent session mid-week capped by a 16" male and several just an inch or two smaller.  Meanwhile stripers are more than abundant in the lower reaches of the river.  

If you don't have a June trip planned to the Miramichi now is the time to check out Country Haven, The Ledges, Wilson's, Upper Oxbow etc and see what is available for dates so that you don't miss out altogether. 

 

 

 

May 16,2022

Sonja Suitor with a nice-looking salmon kelt.  Country Haven photo

Sonja Suitor with a nice-looking salmon kelt. Country Haven photo

The spring salmon season is officially over as of 5/15, but undoubtedly a few more kelts will be caught incidentally.  In fact there are reports that fishermen 15 miles or more upriver are now catching them on floating lines and smaller flies.  I’m told that a few hang around as late as June, though on my early bright fishing trips I’ve never caught one.  David Donahue reports from his view above Doctor’s Island that the number of kelts jumping – something they are known to do as they work their way downriver – has decreased a lot this last week.  That’s a sure sign that the number left up in the river is really thinning out.  Eddie Colford of the Black Brook Salmon Club said that it was really a good spring season with a mix of salmon and grilse reported including quite a few fish over 40 inches. 

On the conservation front the MSA had these comments: 

Smolt wheels became operational the first week of May. "We have been recording smolt spikes for the past 4-5 days, and expect another good flush of smolts after today’s rain. Many conservation and government groups benefit from the use of MSA’s smolt wheels, including research projects involving Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Anqotum Resource Management, University of New Brunswick, Canadian Rivers Institute, and the Atlantic Salmon Federation. Smolt wheels are expected to be operational for at least 2-3 more weeks. For more updates, visit www.miramichisalmon.ca or visit social media pages from the Miramichi Salmon Association!"

 

This grilse photo by Upper Oxbow Adventures shows a healthy looking male, grilse kelt on its way back to sea.  Upper Oxbow Adventures photo

This male grilse photo by Upper Oxbow Adventures shows a healthy looking kelt on its way back to sea. Upper Oxbow Adventures photo

One of the pleasant surprises has been the number of large brook trout that were caught in the lower SW Miramichi near the head of tide. Byron Coughlan of Country Haven reported that the trout have been right in there with the salmon and now striped bass, feeding on what seems like an abundant smelt run this year.  One trout was caught with a smelt still in its mouth that measured fully half the length of the trout.  Only large trout can survive amidst all those stripers in that section of the river. 

The big news is the amazing amounts of striped bass now clustered around the head of tide on both the NW and SW Miramichi – and doubtless the Tabusintac also.  Stripers spawn actively on all three rivers as has been proven by the Miramichi Salmon Association’s collection of larval fish at these locations.  The Department of Fisheries and Oceans hasn’t been willing to formally acknowledge this yet which is holding up needed liberalizations of the striper harvest, but the stripers are there in force.  Debbie Norton from Upper Oxbow on the NW Miramichi adds that there seems to be an abundance this year of really big ones.  Upper Oxbow like the other lodges listed here on FishPal Miramichi offers full guided fishing and lodge accommodations for striped bass anglers.  If you want to get in on that fishery the time is right now and for the next couple of weeks, before they finish spawning and moving down into the estuary and eventually the ocean. 

This is the time of rapidly unfolding possibilities on the Miramichi.  I’m headed up to the Cains River tributary Wednesday for a few days of brook trout fishing including the possibility of hooking a large sea run, though I am a bit on the early side for that.  There should be some decent fishing for resident trout though.  I’ll report on the results next week. 

We are now only about a week away from someone catching the first bright salmon of 2022.   That fish could come from either the NW or the SW branch.  The NW has historically held an earlier run, but May catches on the SW have improved in recent years. 

Benjamin Hadfield came from Scotland to catch this nice striper.  Country Haven photo

Benjamin Hadfield came from Scotland to catch this nice striper. Country Haven photo

May 9th, 2022

Nick Keenan and daughter Rachel

Nick Keenan and daughter Rachel

This report is a little early since I will be away for most of this week, and because the traditional end of spring salmon fishing is May 15 - so you better get up here - though some kelts are definitely caught later than that.  These later kelts are often very well mended and can be better fighters than the early fish.  

A friend of mine, Ralph Vitale, fished in Blackville at the end of the week.  He caught a couple of very nice salmon, but fishing was slow, presumably due to the very cold conditions.  On the last morning he fished it was -5C.  It was -2C this morning 5/9 also.  Yesterday, though, Mother's Day, the afternoon was 20C  and guide Darrell Warren has guiding his son and granddaughter on the river.  Darrell said they found more fish in an hour than he had in either of the previous full days.  I guess those are just the vagaries of spring fishing.  

There should still be decent action here and there all along the river this week, but this is definitely the time when many of the fish start to congregate in the Rapids area near Quarryville to feast on smelts before moving into the ocean.  It will still be hard to beat a streamer fly, but with the water warming up and dropping down to more summer like heights it will not be necessary to fish as deeply.  In many instances fish can be caught on intermediate or even floating lines.  

This may be it on the kelt fishing reports for a while.  I'm going to head up to the Cains next week to spend a few days fishing for brook trout.  I'll also try some larger flies in a couple of pools and see if I can scrape up a kelt.  100 years ago many anglers came to New Brunswick to fish the Cains for kelts and big brook trout.  In those years that fishing went on until almost the very end of May.  It was right around this date a few years ago when I caught two grilse kelts right in front of my camp up at Mahoney Brook.  They were a pleasant surprise when fishing for brook trout.   

Brad Burns

 

 

 

 

 

Season so far

(Last Updated: Tuesday 02 August)

Let me call your attention again towards FishPal Miramichi.  I will be writing regular, hopefully weekly fishing reports and updates for FishPal Miramichi until we can find someone more local to the Miramichi to write them.  Check out the website for fishing availability at participating lodges, fishing reports, conservation news from the Miramichi Salmon Association, and any other info you can use on the river.  While you are on the site why not sign up for the rod alerts page and the monthly newsletter.  A little info on salmon fishing is the kind of thing one never minds just showing up in the inbox.

There’s almost a month of good spring salmon fishing still to look forward to.  All the lodges on FishPal Miramichi participate, so give them a call and get in on the action.  After that there will a week or two’s lull in the action, then the first bright salmon will begin working their way into the system.  We can hardly wait for it all to unfold. 

Thanks for reading. For more photos check out my blog at Opening Day 2022 Miramichi Salmon Fishing Report | Brad Burns Fishing  Brad Burns

August 2, 2022 Ongoing reporting and recap notes are provided in my weekly reports which are all still visible.  The early summer season was a fairly good one for the numbers of fish, but catches were hampered by high water.  

 Angler Mac Ray on right with nice Miramichi early run salmon

Angler Mac Ray on right with nice Miramichi early run salmon

April 28, 2022  Spring fishing for kelts on the Miramichi continues to provide solid action.  The daily release limit on the Miramichi is 5 salmon or grilse, and many anglers are achieving that every day.  Weather has been something of an obstacle with a fair amount of rain that periodically dirtied up the water, and some very cold, windy weather.  That appears to be changing later in the weekend, and the week of May 1 is forecast to see a return to normal high temps of 14C or nearly 60F.  The Miramichi received a half inch of rain in the last 24 hours, and water levels are increasing a bit, but it should not be a serious raise of water.  Everything looks quite good for later in the weekend and next week.

Fishermen have been using the standard sink tip lines and large flies.  Fish are being caught on just about all patterns, though most seem to favor bright colors with a lot of flash.  Marabou patterns with a lot of action also seem to be especially productive. 

Spring salmon fishing will go on until the middle of May.  Traditionally this next couple of weeks is one of the better combinations of improving weather and lots of fish still being in the system.  According to Country Haven Lodge which operates a big spring fishing fleet the catch seems to be running about 50/50 between grilse and salmon.  A fair number of large salmon in the 40-inch range have been released recently.  The fairly high percentage of salmon speaks to good winter survival, and we can hope to see quite a lot of those fish returning to the Miramichi this summer as repeat spawners. 

Mixed in with the salmon is an occasional jumbo sea run brook trout.  These large brook trout are exceptional and relatively rare creatures.  They should be handled very carefully and released. 

Striped bass will start becoming more common in the catch as the river warms and the center of the kelt fishing moves downriver to Blackville and the Rapids.  The Miramichi striped bass population is overly protected and disproportionately large in its historic relationship to salmon.  The large number of striped bass predators have harmed the populations of brook trout and smelts as well as Atlantic salmon.  Three stripers per day may be harvested that are between 50-65cm in length.  Striped bass that are harvested will not be able to intercept smolts heading to sea, or to spend their summers up in the Miramichi eating parr.  The striped bass are excellent table fare.  Brad Burns 

April 19, 2022  It has been a few years since I was on the Miramichi for opening day, but with the ice going out in time, and decent water conditions available, I couldn’t stay away.  I had half forgotten what a great adventure a trip to Miramichi country is at this time of the year.  The ride up from Falmouth, Maine was like rewinding the past couple of weeks.  It certainly isn’t summer here in coastal Maine, but the grass is green and growing, and the leaves are already out on the honeysuckle understory in the woods surrounding my yard.  Snow seems like a distant memory, though it has only been gone a couple of weeks.  By the time I got to Millinocket I could see snow everywhere in the woods.  On the ride across from Fredericton to Blackville all the streams were rushing along bank full.  It was exciting.  If only we could save a little more of that for mid-July!

I arrived on Thursday afternoon and had to unload in a cold rain.  A half-dozen, skinny deer where looking for anything nourishing amidst the dead grass in the fields along the driveway.  Darrell and Nick already had the swallow and bluebird boxes up around the yard, and one of the long canoes was upside down on saw horses, waiting for some better weather to re-coat the bottom. 

Opening day dawned gray, cool, and raining lightly – a perfect fishing day…  Like so many spring fishing days, Friday, April 15, 2022 was a day to protect yourself from the elements.  I had on standard issue green, wool pants, heavy flannel shirt, thick wool sweater, Thinsulate vest, and an Orvis rain jacket.  The most important equipment of all, though was on my feet.  I had never spent an opening day with warm feet until this day.  The new Lacrosse boots that WS Emerson had donated to our MSA winter event, combined with a single pair of Darn Tough boot socks worked like a miracle.  

Over the years I’ve done most of my kelt fishing in the “Golden Horseshoe” so-named by Wades Fishing Lodge for its good numbers of kelts, and in the general vicinity of the mouth of Cains River.  I had always heard about the good fishing around the Doctor’s Island stretch of the river, but since it was twice as far away as the Cains, and my early guides on the river weren’t used to fishing it, I never went there.  That area, though, is one of Darrell Warren’s favorites in his many years of spring fishing experience, so we ran down there for our start. 

When we got down to Doctor’s Island there were already at least a dozen boats working here and there.  Some were trolling, some long-lining along the shore, and others anchored and casting to the sides.  Spring salmon fishing is not a sport of delicate presentations and fine leaders at the end of floating lines.  I was using a 450 grain sinking-head line, and six feet of 20 pound test for a leader.  I will say, though, that sometimes the fish are not just laying along the bottom as often thought.  We anchored up, and I tied on a #2 red and orange marabou streamer, threw it over the side with about 4 feet of fly line beyond the rod tip, set the rod down, and reached up to adjust the hood on my rain jacket.  The fly, still floating, drifted back with the current until the line became tight and the flow sucked it under the surface.  It was instantly taken by a feisty grilse, which began jumping around almost at the end of my rod tip before becoming quickly unhooked.  It was quite a start. 

Soon I became aware that boats all around us were hooked up, and playing and releasing fish.  The action was very good, and I was very happy to see so many fishermen with the big, rubber landing nets taking the time to release their fish with the care that these salmon deserve.  A fairly high percentage of the kelts that have survived to this point will go a short distance off the coast, rebuild on smelts and other inshore fish, and return during the same summer as repeat spawning bright fish.  These fish are potentially very valuable spawners for the Miramichi.  I can tell you the conservation ethic has come a long way in the brief 20 years that I have been participating in this fishery. 

It appeared to me that there was a fairly even mix of grilse and salmon, and even though it was early in the season I thought the fish looked to be in very good condition.  Another bonus to the spring fishing are the brook trout.  We caught some everywhere we fished.  Most were in the 10 to 12-inch size range – nice brookies – but one of Tyler Coughlan’s customers from Country Haven got one that Tyler said was around 2 ½ pounds, a really lovely fish, and probably a sea run. 

The action was quite a bit slower in the afternoon session.  It rained all night, and on Saturday morning the river was rising and comparatively dirty with a fair amount of grass.  We opted for a change of scenery, and close to the shoreline a few hundred feet below Black Brook we came across a little hot spot that produced a few quick fish plus other strikes.  David Donahue, who lives near Doctor’s Island where his father guided for many years, had persuaded me to try a dropper rig.  I tied a dropper loop in my leader about 4 feet above my marabou point fly.  To this loop I attached a #2 Black Ghost.  It seemed that the grilse consistently took the dropper fly while the salmon took the point.  It certainly wasn’t a huge sample, but that was the way it seemed to go.   I even observed  a grilse make several attempts at the Black Ghost while we were trying to net a salmon hooked to the other fly. 

In the afternoon on Saturday Dawson Hovey and I fished a stretch down in the Rapid’s section.  This was shore fishing along a long grassy bank, and I really enjoyed it.  Darryl Curtis had fished it with great success on opening day.  Like all fishing on Saturday it was much slower than Friday, but still we pecked away at them.  I was casting a Spey rod with a fast sinking tip, and in addition to landing a grilse and a couple of trout we had 6 or 8 pulls between us that didn’t end up as secure hookups, but it did tell me that fish were there, just hesitant to strike.  Darryl who has lived and guided in The Rapids his whole life blamed it on a cold east wind.  His opinion is probably better than most.  An added bonus was watching a couple of adult eagles surveying a Volkswagen-sized nest in the top of a giant white pine across the river from us. 

On Sunday Kevin Harris showed up to pick up the Chestnut canoe he bought at the MSA auction, and Dawson and I drove to Fredericton for Easter dinner via the home of Bill and Joan MacKay in Hayseville.  I wrote about Bill who guided at Rocky Brook for more than 30 years in my May of 2019 blog – you can just scroll back to read it.  He turns 90 this August and is still fishing the Miramichi.  Dawson and Greg Sprague are putting together oral histories of the Miramichi, and are going to get more interviews with Bill this coming year.  Hayseville is a short drive upriver from Boiestown, but with that increase in altitude the winter clock rewound even further.  The river there was a blue pathway between two banks still thickly covered with ice and snow.  Out in the middle, though, it was bubbling and roaring along with a fair amount of white water.  Bill who was a champion canoer in his youth, and has poled every inch of the Miramichi from Boiestown to above Burnt Hill many times, says that this is the first real whitewater rapid as you ascend the Miramichi towards the headwaters. 

May 5th, 2022

Rip Cunningham with a well-mended Upper Blackville Kelt

Rip Cunningham with a well-mended Upper Blackville Kelt

Spring fishing has been a mixed bag this past week with steady action reported in the Boiestown, Doaktown, Upper Blackville, and well downstream in the Quarryville area.  The fishing centered around Blackville has been a little slower, but still not bad for those who put in the time.  One theory is that the unusually cold weather is being blamed for the fish not being inclined to move, so the areas that had the highest concentration of early fishing pressure have slowed a bit.  David Donahue, who is located just above Doctor’s Island, said that he saw 8 salmon jump while having his coffee the morning of May 4.  He theorized that perhaps the water is starting to warm a little more and fresh fish are now dropping down river.  With the action still taking place up river that means there will be lots more fish yet to arrive in the lower reaches. 

It is normal for Quarryville to have a concentration of kelts since that is where the tidal section starts.  Smelt runs mass there before spawning, and many kelts feed on these nutritious bait fish before returning to the sea.  A large, mid-May kelt, well-mended from feeding on smelts is pretty close in all regards to a bright fish. 

I heard from Rip Cunningham of the Black Brook Salmon Club.  Rip enjoyed several days of good fishing for kelts that he described as spread out over the SW Miramichi both up and down river from the mouth of the Cains.  It was possible to anchor and cast against the shoreline, but much better results came by trolling large flies. 

Tyler Coughlan of Country Haven Lodge which spring fishes mostly in the Blackville to Quarryville region reported catching good numbers of large sea run brook trout, some as large as 5 pounds, as well lots of salmon.  They are particularly high on May fishing since they see lots of opportunity to catch salmon, trout, and striped bass, often all on the same day. 

Unmistakable colors of a sea run brook trout.  Photo from Country Haven

Unmistakable colors of a sea run brook trout. Photo from Country Haven

We are still about three weeks away from someone catching the first bright salmon of 2022, but that isn’t all that far.  Salmon Magic author and Spey casting guru Topher Browne e-mailed me saying that he was a bit overwhelmed by the task of getting all of his gear ready to head to the Gaspe at the end of May, and then back to the Miramichi in mid-June for a crack at a SW Miramichi springer.  It’s that time!  Brad Burns 

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