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  1. Canada
  2. Miramichi
  3. Fishing reports

Last week

(Last Updated: Monday 22 November)

I spent the last 5 weeks of the salmon season in camp on the Miramichi fishing both the Cains and the main river.  My overwhelming reflection on that time, is how great it felt to have been able to return to Canada, and go salmon fishing.  Of all the fishing I’ve done anywhere, there is none that I prefer to fishing for Atlantic salmon in New Brunswick.

I’m going to cut this season wrap-up blog in half to keep it from being too long.  This first part will review the fall salmon fishing.  The second part will come in early November, and it will review the run for the entire season including an analysis based on the trap and barrier results.

There were a number of years in the early 2000s when the hot weather of summer dragged on into early September, and it was close to mid-September before the river really cooled down and fall fishing began.  Over the last few years, though, the river seems to have substantially cooled down before the end of August, and in several summers – such as 2021 – we received quite a bit of rain.  My old friend Willy Bacso used to say, that there are just so many fish to come, and if they come early on repeated raises of water, then they will be all gone upriver before the end of the season.  Probably to a large degree that was the case with the fall of 2021.

The last time in 2021 that we saw a typical summer height of water was August 31st when the gauge registered .59 meters, and throughout all of August it was rarely anywhere near that low.  In July or August that water height would find fish holding in pools along the river that offered some amount of cool water buffering.  The difference in 2021 was that repeated raises of cool water had carried many of the fish further upriver than they would normally have been at that time.  This left fewer fish to populate downriver pools in the fall, and the greater heights of water encouraged them to just keep on swimming instead of resting in a lie where anglers would have a crack at them.

The difference on the Cains was that the raises were much smaller to non-existent.  The headwaters of the Cains and the Miramichi are far enough apart so that it is possible for one to get a soaking rain, and the other hardly a drop, and it does happen.  The Cains missed the large raise of September 27th almost completely.  When the fish were normally moving to the upriver pools for the traditional late season Cains fishing, the height was so slow that there was little current flow in the pools, and it was very difficult to catch them.  Jason Curtis said that it was the double whammy – too high for good fishing on the Miramichi and too low on the Cain!

That said, the fishing had its bright moments.  All four members of the  McKinnon group, plus Topher Browne, Pat Boland, Colles Stowell, Duncan Barnes, and myself all landed nice double-digit salmon, and others were hooked and lost. Of the 39 salmon and grilse that we landed in September and October, 14 were salmon and 25 grilse.  Large male – cock or buck salmon – were conspicuously lacking.  That seems likely to be a function of poor grilse returns for the last few years, since large cock salmon usually begin their careers as grilse

Bradford Burns

Author of Closing the Season available to buy at Coch-y-Bonddu Books 

 

Guide Jason Curtis with anger Jeff whom caught this salmon on a black ghost.

 

Season so far

(Last Updated: Monday 22 November)

Mid-June Miramichi Salmon Fishing Report!

Posted on June 19, 2021 by Brad Burns 10 Comments

Good news from the Miramichi! Just a few days ago it seemed that very few people were fishing for salmon, but for those who have had a line in the water the results have been surprisingly good for so early in the season.

One in the net for Randall Connors in Upper Blackville

Jason Curtis began fishing for bright salmon near the end of May, and has spent a little time at it most days, though it was June 6 before he first connected. Fishing on the 6th, at Campbell’s Pool with his brother Jeff, they ran into some action. Jason brought a grilse to the net, and lost another. Meanwhile, Jeff hooked but also lost, a large salmon. It is worth remembering that this year we need to fish with barbless hooks, for both kelts and bright salmon. You can use doubles, and you can bend your hooks to form a deeper pocket in order to make them harder for fish to shake off. Both these techniques should result in fewer losses, but won’t make it any more difficult for you to slide the hook out. Yes, I know that we are going to release them anyway, but I’m sure that many of us prefer to bring our fish to the net, admire them, and then release them.

In the time since the 6th there has been quite consistent action, much more so than most Junes that I can remember. In addition to Jason who has hooked, landed, and lost several other salmon and grilse, and who has seen quite a few loose fish jumping on their way up river, I spoke with Eddie Colford, head guide of the Black Brook Salmon Club on a couple of occasions. On the 8th he had hooked a nice salmon that morning and seen 6 others. On the 14th he simply said that he was seeing a lot of both salmon and grilse. On the 16th Alex Colford, Eddie’s son, and a guide at BBSC, reported that he hooked and lost two salmon that day and a good number more were seen.

On June 16th Randall Connors hooked, lost, and landed a number of both grilse and salmon in an Upper Blackville pool. The next day he took a friend who caught a nice 12-pound range salmon, and Randall said that fish went through on their way upriver all the time he was in the pool. The sum total of these few reports that I’m fortunate enough to know about is much better action than average for this point in the season. 15 years ago, in better times for the salmon than we’ve seen in recent years, it was not unusual to get to the middle of June and have no bonafide reports of fish.

Quite unusual this year is the high percentage of grilse that are showing up. The traditional Miramichi grilse run begins around the 4th of July. A few are always present in the June catch, but this year the number seems to be running well beyond a few, and they seem to be showing up consistently. This could indicate a big grilse year which we haven’t had in some time, and that could indicate better winter sea survival. Let us hope.

The fish counting traps and barriers are in the water and counting fish. The Millerton trap started early this year and had 4 salmon by the end of May. I can’t remember seeing a May count from Millerton. The Cassillis trap on the earlier running NW Miramichi had 6. That compares to 1 in 2019 and 0 in 2018. Through June 15 the Millerton trap caught 10 salmon and grilse and the Cassilis trap had 16. These numbers are very preliminary, but it is always interesting to see how the year starts off. Don’t forget that the traps only catch a small percent of the salmon entering the river.

The water temperature gauge for the Miramichi at this link is now up and running for the season. I’m told, however, that Environment Canada will be offering a new site later this year. This is welcome as the Data Garrison site has frequently been offline.

Water temps have been fluctuating between low and mid 60sF which is quite normal for this time in June. Water height is currently around .8 meters which is a tiny bit low for mid-June, but not bad.

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