Miramichi Fishing Report for Thursday, April 20, 2017

Photo by Ashleigh Reynolds
Photo by Ashleigh Reynolds

MIRAMICHI – The 2017 angling season for spring salmon and striped bass is underway for the Miramichi system.  However, the weather has not been the most conducive to heading out.  We have been plagued by very cold temperatures and bouts of wet snow which not only have made angling uncomfortable, but has also kept the rivers quite high and dirty.  But there were some hardy souls who braved the elements and were rewarded.

W. W. Doak and Sons in Doaktown said angling on Saturday was quite slow, but picked up on Sunday.  But rain curtailed fishing Monday, although the catching was positive on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Since Tuesday the water had dropped off and was clearing giving ideal conditions.  Anglers were getting a good mix of salmon and grilse.  The fish were described as being in good shape and fighting well, with a couple of 38-inchers reported. Flies of choice were Renous Specials, Christmas Trees. Black Ghosts, Golden Eagles, Smelts and Marabous.

Andrew Anthony of Ledges Inn in Doaktown and Mountain Channel in the Rapids area said angling was slow, but considering the cold weather and high and dirty water, it was not too bad.  It had dropped two feet by Wednesday and was clearing nicely.  There were not many anglers out, but those that braved the conditions had done well mid week.  There had been a couple of salmon in the 40-inch range. Flies of choice were Black Ghosts, Red Eagles, Renous Specials and Black Marabous.

Herb Barry Sr. of Herb’s Fly Shop on the Station Road in Blackville said anglers were catching some, but fishing was not great as the water was very high and dirty with an odd cake of ice here and there.  Not many were out yet due to the cold and wet weather.  Catches were mostly grilse thus far. Flies of choice were Golden Eagles and Silver Smelts.

Curtis Miramichi River Outfitting in Blackville said angling was a little slow and the water was very high and dirty.  No fish were reported on Saturday and only a few Sunday.  Some anglers had moved over to the Renous River which was a bit cleaner, and had picked up some salmon and grilse.  But the weather has been cold. Flies of choice were mostly the Golden Eagle along with some Black Ghosts, Blue Smelts, and Renous Specials.

Jim Laws of Miramichi Hunting and Fishing in Newcastle, Miramichi reported just an odd striped bass being caught in the lower part of the river near Gordon’s Wharf.  There were also a few spring salmon reported, but not many yet as not a lot of anglers were out as it was too cold.  Generally, the water was quite high. Flies of choice were Mickey Finns, Golden Eagles, Black Ghosts, Renous Specials, Smelts and Christmas Trees.

Syd Matchett of Trout Brook Fly Shop on the Northwest Miramichi said angling was quite slow on the weekend, but had improved by Tuesday with some boats limiting out.  The water was very high and dirty, but began to clear and drop by Tuesday.  There seemed to be slightly more salmon then grilse being hooked.  There were a couple of salmon in the 38-inch range.  The ice was still on the Northwest below the Red Bank Bridge at Whitney. Flies of choice were Golden Eagles, Renous Specials and Mickey Finns.

Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Outdoor Adventures on the Little Southwest Miramichi said her sports were doing well.  On April 15 to17 they fished the Southwest as ice was still in at her place.  The weather was cold but they did catch some.  On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week the ice had gone at Upper Oxbow and they fished there with good results.  She said the water was actually low and it was a long time since the ice went out there and was still in at Whitney.  They were catching a good mix of salmon and grilse. Flies of choice were Black Ghosts, Golden Eagles and Mickey Finns.

Last weekend produced poor fishing conditions and was also the Easter weekend, so combined, not a lot of anglers were out.  However, numbers should increase substantially this weekend. So bundle up and get out and “on the water”.

A new angling group was formed in mid March, 2017.  It is the Coalition for Better Salmon Management (CBSM).  It aims to push DFO to better manage the Atlantic Salmon fishery with more openness and communication.  Already it has a membership of over 700 and is continuing to grow.

Steering committee chair person Tom Pettigrew makes the following statement:

“the recent announcement (April 13th) by DFO on the Atlantic Salmon angling regulations for New Brunswick, whereby they have decided to once again maintain the status quo, clearly demonstrates just how “stuck in the mud” they really are and how badly they need a push to get them moving down the road towards river-by-river management .”

(See the cartoon and poster below, and click on the link to get more on the Coalition and its aims and philosophy as well as membership information.)

Coalition for Better Atlantic Salmon Management in New Brunswick (CBSM) formed

Don’t forget to show your support for our sponsors, because without them, this column would not be possible.  

Deals 4 U


Doug Underhill
438 McKinnon Road
Miramichi, NB, Canada, E1V 6G2

A SPECIAL THANKS to all who made contributions last season.

Thought for the Week: “Fishing provides that connection with the whole living world. It gives you the opportunity of being totally immersed, turning back into yourself in a good way. A form of meditation, some form of communion with levels of yourself that are deeper than the ordinary self” Ted Hughes

Bryant Freeman: ALL THINGS FISHING by Doug Underhill

NOW AVAILABLE in Stores or from Doug Underhill 438 McKinnon Road, Miramichi, NB, E1V 6G2 or Bryant Freeman 1-506-386-6269
Cover price $19.95
Shipping to Canada $25.00 (Incl shipping & handling)
To US $30.00 (incl shipping & handling)




I see the nb government got their hooks into every fisherman’s pockets with increasing license fees. we are hooked but not released!!
Fr William Murray

Hi Doug, great to see you back! Hope the winter went well….put me down for a copy of the new book on Freeman, he and I collaborate on little projects for conservation, we’ve been insetting his classic feather wing flies with my classic salmon fly prints, he’s a good man I enjoy working with him and we are raising some good money for the salmon.
All my best,
Ps I’m doing an interview with Harry Forestell on my work abroad this Tuesday, I’m told it will air Wednesday or Thursday THIS week.
Daniel Porter Fine Arts

Hi All
Well the 2017 angling season will soon begin – ice still covers much of the Northwest Miramichi System with jams and open water above Curventon. The Southwest is pretty well open down to Quarryville – two more days will make a big difference.

DFO issued a press release today stating Catch and release remains in place for the 2017 Atlantic salmon recreational fishing in the Gulf Region to maintain conservation benefits. I have attached the press release here. As well, a notice to recreational anglers can be viewed at  http://www.inter.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Gulf/FAM/Recreational-Fisheries/Rec-Salmon-Conservation-Measures-2017

Striped bass season also opens on the 15th. DFO earlier issued a press release regarding the 2017 season – I have pasted this release below and I have highlighted the issues pertaining to the Miramichi. The local paper published a story earlier this week which I have attached regarding the Striped Bass Fishery with quotes from MSA Director / MWMC President Debbie Norton.

CAST (Collaboration for Atlantic Salmon Tomorrow) is in full swing with hatchery renovations continuing here in South Esk and our first collected salmon getting ready for release this fall – for more information on CAST you can visit the website at http://castforsalmon.com/ and also read the attached story published today on a three day meeting held earlier this week regarding the salmon supplementation program we are heavily involved in.

If you are in Fredericton next week please join us for a pub night – Wednesday April 19th at Greystone Brewing. It will begin at 5:30pm – a $10 cover charge gives you a brew and appetizers and an opportunity to discuss everything happening on the Miramichi this season. Everyone is welcome.

I would also like to remind everyone that the 64th Annual General Meeting of the Miramichi Salmon Association, Inc. will be held on Saturday, April 29th at 1:00 PM at the Upper Miramichi Community Centre in Boiestown.

Please also be reminded that the 21st annual Miramichi Ice Breaker Dinner is taking place the same day at the Central NB Woodmen’s Museum (starting with the reception/silent auction at 4:30, dinner at 6:00 and Live Auction at about 7:00 PM).  Please come and share in the celebration of the opening of the 2017 fishing season on the Miramichi River and pay well deserved tribute to the people along the watershed – residents, outfitters, guides, cooks, lodge staff, anglers.  Tickets are almost sold out and are $60 each – please let me know if you need a ticket.

As part of the “Ice Breaker Weekend”, the Miramichi Watershed Management Committee (MWMC) and MSA will jointly host an Information Session on Friday, April 28th at the Central NB Woodmen’s Museum from 10:00 AM to 3:30 PM.  This is a full day gathering of guest speakers and opportunities for discussion of matters of interest affecting the Miramichi River and its surroundings. Lunch will be served so again please let me know if you would like to attend.

If you get out on the river this weekend please stay safe!

Yours in Conservation

Striped Bass Recreational Fishery in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2017

Moncton, New Brunswick – March 31, 2017 – Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) today approved the Plan for Striped Bass Recreational Fishing in the waters adjacent to the Maritime Provinces in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence for 2017.

This year, fishing days are added, distinct seasons are established for tidal and inland waters, and retention of Striped bass is authorized every day of the fishing season.

  • In 2017 , the Striped bass fishing season in tidal waters of the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence will take place from April 15 to October 31;
  • In 2017, the Striped bass fishing season in inland waters of New Brunswick* and Nova Scotia draining in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and inland waters of Prince Edward Island will be from May 1 to September 15 (*inland waters of the Miramichi River system: from April 15 to October 15);
  • Retention of Striped bass will be authorized every day of the open fishing season.
    During the 2017 season, anglers will be able to retain a maximum of one Striped bass per day and will be prohibited from possessing more than one (1) striped bass at any given time from April 15 to June 14 and from September 1 to October 31, and two (2) Striped bass from June 15 to August 31.

The following management measures will apply during the 2017 Striped bass recreational fisheries:

  • The size window for the retention fishery is established at a minimal length of 50 cm and at a maximum length of 65 cm. The length is measured in a straight line from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail (total length);
  • Angling activities will begin two hours before sunrise and end two hours after sunset of each day;
  • The use of a non-offset barbless circle hook is mandatory when bait is used while fishing for striped bass in tidal waters.
  • NEW: Closure of the Northwest Miramichi River spawning ground to all angling during the spawning period. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada will issue a variation order closing all angling for a duration of 3 weeks in an area of the Northwest Miramichi River below the Red Bank Bridge once concentrations of Striped bass are observed spawning. A closure notice will be posted on the DFO Gulf Region Recreational fisheries Internet page

Federation, Watershed Coalition Express Frustration with Striped Bass Rules (pdf)

‘The Ocean is the War’: The $9M Fight to Save Miramichi Salmon (pdf)

Anyone wishing to report suspicious fishing activity anonymously is asked to contact the nearest Fisheries and Oceans Canada office or to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477

Until next week

2 Responses to Miramichi Fishing Report for Thursday, April 20, 2017

  1. I agree that the hidden agendas are all to common when it comes to government agencies.I think the striped bass fishery should be maintained to allow the species to exist, but not at the expense of the atlantic salmon.The estimates of the bass population are just a guess and the one way we can alleviate the problem is to allow a native fishery of stripped bass to cull the bass population; and allow our salmon to survive to reach the open ocean. DFO wont have a leg to stand on if this is the case as all court decisions have been in favour of first nations group.

  2. Hi Doug,
    It is David Whyte writing you.
    I could not find you on Facebook to add you onto the NBRA (New Brunswick Recreational Anglers (Miramichi River Systems )site) that I had created back in 2012 when Jim Laws,Mark Hambrook and myself conducted the public forum in which DFO officials were basically forced to attend after stating that they would not when invited at first.
    It is well known that politics plays a role in EVERYTHING. You and I both know that there have been big mistakes made, mismanagement of our watershed,lack of Transparency, breech of contracts on many levels, negligence, hidden agendas and the list goes on.
    A couple of us have gotten together and protesting any closure to any portion of this river system aimed towards protecting the striped bass or their spawning grounds. It will be May 6th,2017 @ 10 am at Parks Landing towards Red Bank. I have so much more to say on this subject and would love to have a coffee and a chat if you would like.
    I will leave you with a copy of what I had just sent out to global news, CTV, ATV, and fifth estate. FORGIVE MY PASSION DOUG.

    > DFO have released their Gulf of St. Lawrence striped bass rules and regulations  for 2017. The announcement has given a retention period of approx 200 days this year as opposed to 94 or so last year. The size restrictions for retention have not changed from last year but a question had been asked as to why our Gulf of St. Lawrence striped bass size slot is so limited on the smaller scale (50cm to 65cm) as opposed to the Bay of Fundy striped bass, which are at a higher risk on the SARA chart that have a retention of 150cms?
    > A 2 bass per day and only 2 in possession per angler is implemented in  June 15 to Aug 31 when the bass are not in the Miramichi area but in fact on their way out to sea.
    > The biggest upset is the proposed river closure for a 3 week period to further protect a species that clearly does not need protecting. DFO haven’t any science to verify or justify ANY closure. River closure is Management Failure!
    > Below is an email that I have submitted to Local MP Pat Finnigan and a couple of others after a telephone conversation with DFO’S Frédéric Brutruille.
    > DFO are trying to implement a closure on a portion of the Northwest Miramichi River for 2017. They had tried this back in 2012 without success so now they are suggesting a smaller portion of the spawning grounds for striped bass to be closed for certain amount of time without scientific information to support this cause.  Why close an area down when numbers of striped bass have rebounded back from a mere 2000 spawners, in 1999, to in excess of 318000 currently WITHOUT ANY CLOSURE?
    >  DFO will avoid answering all of our questions.
    >  This is an all to familiar action from any government authority, which is not the intended duty for that specific position, whatever it may be.
    > MAKE IT CLEAR! There cannot  be a any exceptions!
    >  Next year, maybe sooner, DFO intentions may decide to extend boundaries as they have done in the past.
    > This can be done with ease once ANY closure is implemented within the system on a species or its habitat.
    >  This choice allows them to close the door on a wrongful decision made by a prior Minister and his management staff. It allows them to  breech contracts and bypass all consultation processes back in 2012. It allows DFO  NOT TO BE ACCOUNTABLE for their actions!
    > The best management for the fishery IS APPROPRIATE AND UNBIASED MANAGEMENT! PERIOD!
    >  Community pride and unity. Pride and passion for  a heritage and what a community  may stand to gain OR lose. This alone  should always triumph over politics, as it is the true sense of Democracy that our forefathers had put into place for fairness and equality where majority rule.
    >  GREED, has turned this true form of democracy  into a game, to where the APPOINTED persons in key positions try forming new ways to bend the rules to their advantage  for certain agendas or gains. To have precedence set so that bent rule then becomes law.
    > Who posed the proposal of river closure in the first place. Nobody here!
    > DFO officials have tried using the online surveys as another way to enforce their decision where Mr. Brutruille  claims 54% were in favor of some type of protection of the habitat. (54% of what? 200 online surveys that person’s do not reside in the affected area).Not to mention that this is without being consulted on accurate accounts, measures or science.  Clearly DFO’s mind is set on closure of any type so they can get their foot in the door and eventually do what they had set out to do some time ago. It NEVER ends! There is a new Minister and a new lower manager in DFO therefore this unnecessary issue is being brought up again with even less facts and science to substantiate any such proposal. Matter of fact it is almost, perhaps, criminal negligence on DFO’S part to OVERPROTECT the striped bass while jeopardizing all other native species within the watershed, especially the Atlantic Salmon. WHY?
    > MAKE IT KNOWN THAT there is a far better  management plan that includes MORE RETENTION FOR THE WHOLE SOUTHERN GULF REGION and more importantly, NO CLOSURE!
    >  A few of us suspect that DFO  tactics are going to include an increase in the retention amounts to sweeten the pot, they have already given us the whole season to retain (as it always should have been) BUT it will come at the cost of closure. WHICH, LEFT UNADVISED,  the majority will jump all over immediately without giving it a second thought as to the big picture. We can control the outcome by NOT  being pushed, coerced or dictated to but in fact giving DFO a better management  offer. There are MANY other management efforts that can be implemented  without closure.
    >  It has to be made known BEFORE all of this takes place. BEFORE majority rule on matters that really do not affect them at all and DFO make the citizens of Miramichi  look greedy and unreasonable.
    >  AVOIDING ACCOUNTABILITY  is and always has been their tactic. They spend more effort on trying to get out of something or cover it up than sucking it up and moving forward to better manage and properly consult with ALL stakeholders. Basically, they spend good taxpayers money to do less than their job!
    > David Whyte (daveandlisa@hotmail.ca)

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