9/18 In the two weeks - my apologies - since the last report fishing has been quite decent even with conditions stacked against us. First it was just too warm and only a handful of fish each day were coming from the cold water pools. After that we had more rain - the hallmark of 2023 on the Miramichi - and we saw fish moving from the holding pools and traveling up the rivers, especially the Cains where I was fishing. A few days ago things were settling down and new fish were arriving from the ocean. Then two days ago Hurricane Lee dropped four inches of rain on us. Starting on Wed though we have an extended period of cool, dry autumn weather to look forward to and hopefully a good run of fresh fish from Miramichi Bay. There is still time to get in on the fun for 2023.
BBSC hookbill photo by Eddie Colford
9/3/23 Fishermen struggled through a bump in the water to 1.5 meters a few days back but are now back down to 1.1 meters and dropping. There is a warm sunny stretch starting today for a few days and the water will continue to drop rapidly getting down to well under a meter. This should encourage fish to hold in some of the lower river pools and provide some very good angling. I'll be headed up on Thursday the 7th to fish until October 15, the end of the season. I hope you'll also book some time on the Miramichi this fall.
8/29/23 The lodges along the SW Miramichi are reporting good to very good fishing despite the ups and downs to the water. Both the SW Miramichi and lower Cains rivers are producing. Right now we have water at 1.25 meters dropping rapidly towards a good fishing height, unfortunately a brush with tropical moisture will bring us another inch or so of rain on Wed. After that, though, it looks like high pressure for an extended period of time plus a brief return to abnormally high temps for the first few days of September. Hopefully this will dry things out and bring the river down to good levels for the fall run to hold in the pools of the lower river. There is still time to get in on the action if you call and make your bookings now.
A lovely fall salmon from the Cains submitted by The Ledges in Doaktown
8/10/23 The hallmark of this season is the continuous high water. The river is just now experiencing another meter plus raise of water that is reaching a top. Whenever the water has approached a reasonable level the fishing has been deecent. With little need for warm water refuges the fish are well spread throughout the system. Fall is the time known for lowish water and the salmon to pool up in the lower sections of the river. This makes for good fishing. Hopefully we will beging to see some of this once the current raise settles down. Fall is a wonderful time on the Miramichi River system including the Cains River. Check with the lodges on this site for availability.
Here's a photo of a sea-liced salmon caught in Blackville during a recent, brief period of normal water height.
7/9/23 High water on the Miramichi continues with warm showery weather forecasted for the upcoming week. At least this will keep the water from reaching the high temps it otherwise would considering the high 20C numbers forecast. There are good numbers of fish entering the system though, and some excellent specimens are bing caught.
Salmon fishing this summer on the Miramichi has been average so far as far as the measured and apparent runs - we are seeing good numbers of fish. The problem has been conditions in the form of high water and more recently clear blue skies and a heat wave. These issues appear to be behind us now as we have an extended forecast of cool rainy weather just as we reach July, the prime month of the summer salmon run.
If you can possibly get in on the action, right now is the time. These are all silver bullets that give Atlantic salmon their well deserved reputation.
Additionally I landed our first grilse this morning, so that run should be getting underway too.
6/4/23 Last weekend Jeff Curtis caught the first bright salmon of the season on the NW Miramich, and others have also been reported. I don't know of any yet on the SW branch, but that should be any day. There are definitely fish in the SW system as the Dungarvon barrier is now working and recorded 4 salmon and grilse during the last 4 days. There were none for the same period last year. Things are just starting. We are experiencing very cold wet weather with a consistent N to NW wind. The river has risen three feet during the last week from constant showers and rain. Salmon entering the system are just motoring along taking advantage of the great flow. This should all settle down over the weekend, and we should start running into a few more fresh fish next week. I'll be in camp myself, and am very much looking forward to it.
5/21/23 Anglers now are fishing for striped bass or brook trout. The stripers are getting ready to spawn and fishing has been really good some days and very difficult others. One angler caught 25 fish larger than 30 inches in one day on the NW Miramichi. That's incredible fishing by any standard. The alternative to striped bass has been fishing for brook trout. The sea runs have started to move out of the estuary and up the river. It has been cold, and the cold water loving resident brookies are spread everywhere in the system. These fish are smaller than the sea run fish. Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Outfitters says that there are now bright salmon in the NW Miramichi branch. People will now start to develop more interest in that fishery as the amount of fish in the system starts to increase.
5/14/23 Things are quiet on the salmon front as May 15 is the traditional end of the kelt or spring salmon fishery. There are some still being caught, but directed angling for them is pretty much over until next spring. Anglers are now focusing on striped bass which are another week or so away from the start of spawning. There are tons of them in the lower ends of the river now, and fishing is excellent. Most of the salmon lodges do accomodate striped bass anglers too. A few sea run brook trout are also being taken in the lower river incidental to the striped bass catch. I saw a bright salmon from the Gaspe on Facebook. The Miramichi is probably a week or so away from someone catchng that first one.
5/8/23 Things are changing on the Miramichi as they do every year as mid-May approaches. The kelts are starting to thin out as many head seaward, though good catches can still be made. The area around the lower river and especially the head of tide has seen the best sea run brook trout fishing in recent years. That too has slowed down, and those fish will be starting their move back up the river. The temperature gauge in Blackville has been out of commission most of the spring, but the river level has dropped to 2 meters, down to half of where it was two weeks ago. With little to no rain forecast for the next week we will see water conditions being set for the arrival of the first brights at salmon pools along the river.
4/30/23 Black Brook Salmon Club manager Eddie Colford says that this is the best spring salmon/kelt fishing season he has seen in many years. Club members Rip Cunningham and Pete Maher just got back, and Rip said it was his best trip ever, and he’s been fishing the Miramichi for a very long time.
Rip Cunningham with a nice spring salmon.
I also heard from Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures on the NW Miramichi. She said that her sports have been limiting out daily. The Ledges and Country Haven are also all smiles about the fishing.
We are about half way through the traditional April 15 to May 15 season. Normally the early fishing has a little faster action, but the weather is usually a little more pleasant the second two weeks, and the fish are continually improving in condition. That is especially true if they can find a few smelts. Eddie said that his angler Pete Howell caught a smelt today in front of Wade’s Fishing Lodge. This smelt was almost 20 miles above the head of the tide, and it is the first one he has ever caught that far upriver. He said the salmon were rolling on the surface yesterday afternoon, and he now thinks they may have been actively feeding on smelts. A good sign for sure!
Photo of Renous Special Salmon Flies by John Vickery Jr.
I noted that FishPal has booked more Miramichi trips so far in 2023 than they did all of last season. Apparently folks are finding the online booking software quite convenient. Of course you can always go directly to the “Fisheries” listed on the upper left of the home page call or e-mail the lodge directly. While you’re at it why not book a June or July trip. There is absolutely nothing on the line like a June Miramichi salmon.
4/17/23 The Miramichi River Atlantic salmon season is now underway. The ice went out of the river in the days leading up to the 4/15 start. It was a very gentle event with warm temperatures but no rain constantly softening the river ice and melt water from the considerable snow pack that was left in the woods. The river rose 6 feet and by opening day was quite free of ice but very milky. It is clearing up, but there is more snow to go and some showers forecast on and on this week. The catch should be improving daily.
Opening day was quite slow due to the murkiness, but Country Haven reported that their anglers landed about 30 fish yesterday. A fair number of brook trout should be caught along with the kelts.
It’s not too late to get in on the action. Several of the outfitters on this Fish Pal site offer spring salmon fishing packages. It’s a great way to enjoy the river and feel the excitement of a large salmon on the end of your line.
************************************ 2023 Report ***************************************
Big, fall-run henfish from the Cains.
October 16 The Miramichi Atlantic salmon fishing season is now closed until April 15 of 2023 During the offseason you can read information on various subjects related to the Miramichi salmon fishery by going to this link to the Brad Burns Fly Fishing website and reading the latest blog report. On Brad Burns Fly Fishing website home page you can subscribe at no charge to receive e-mail notices of the latest blogs as they become available.
Ootober 7 For the second consecutive year we have had great summer flows that sapped our late fall run Additionally very low fall levels have made fish in traditional fall areas like the Cains very hard to catch - even though there are very good numbers present in many pools. The good news is that there are lots of salmon spread out over the spawning areas
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.
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.
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.
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 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
May 9th, 2022
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.