Margaree Salmon Association Autumn Run 2017

President's Message

MSA President Bill Haley
It is a pleasure to write my first open letter as President of the Margaree Salmon Association.

I am grateful to Past President Lester Wood for both serving out his full term, and for staying on an extra year. This smooth transition has been good for the Association, and the work we are doing.

And there has been no shortage of work! Of particular note is our Watershed Committee’s work with Matrix Solutions Inc. to create our ‘baseline’ study for the river. Led by committee chair Greg Lovely, Matrix’s Ron Jenkins will soon report on his team’s transit of the river this past June.

Our CABIN (“Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network”) water quality studies are complete, and we will hear good news on the final report at this year’s AGM.

We have continued to work with DFO on their Kelt Tracking Survey, and this fall assisted installing a new counting fence for the Margaree - something that will only bolster the data, and understanding, of our river.

We have some very promising and exciting opportunities working with some of our partners at DFO, Inland Fisheries, and local businesses, large and small.

Despite this year’s low waters, the Margaree remained safely open through the summer. We assisted in the repair, replacement, and addition of several new real-time temperature monitors that ensured the safety of our summer run.

Edsel Hart once again led a very successful year with our Adopt-A-Stream program, and early results from DFO’s electrofishing add to our already impressive data of young fish in our tributaries and river.

Our Board has worked hard through the winter months and the fishing season. Our announcement of this year’s Cormack Award winner will be a pleasure to make.

I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can at this year’s AGM and, on the following weekend, Pieroway’s event Flies, Lies, and Fiddles.

Tight lines — and fish right to dusk on Hallowe’en if you can!

The Lemire Collection is coming to Margaree!

Watershed Study Update

During the first week of June, Matrix Solutions Inc. completed a transit of the Margaree River. Technicians travelled by canoe from Forest Glen Brook, past the confluence of the Southwest, right down to Tidal Pool. MSA Directors Greg Lovely and Vice-President Leonard Forsyth provided assistance.

Director Greg Lovely Chairs Watershed Study Group

The river divides into twenty-eight ‘reaches’. A reach is a section of river that is defined by hydraulic conditions influencing flow. Project leader Ron Jenkins will be presenting his official findings in October.

Preliminary results indicate a river is a significant state of transition. From Forest Glen Brook to Ross Pool at Portree, most reaches were degrading in a state of transition. MacKenzie Pool was the most stable, but even it was found to be moving on its outward bend at a rate of around six feet per year. Reaches between Cemetery Pool and Ward’s Rock Pool were moving on their outward bends by as much as eight feet per year.

The reaches between Ross Pool and Cranton’s Bridge were among the most unstable on the river. Found here was excessive downgrading, and deep cuts into the channel bed. The total amount of degradation in this section indicates a contribution to sediment inputs further downstream. The most unstable section was Reach 13, from the confluence of Ingraham’s Brook at the Hatchery to the hydrometric station at Rock Pool.

Just below Redbank and the confluence of Nile Brook (river right), the outside bend is migrating at a rate of almost 12 feet per year, despite being heavily vegetated.

From Cranton’s down to the confluence of the Southwest Margaree, riverbed instability shows up as frequent changes in channel planform, with the river splitting into multiple channels and abandoning old routes for new ones.

The lower river is widening from the Forks down to the Tidal Pool. As well, there is evidence of widespread aggradation. Although such conditions are considered normal on the lower stretches of rivers, there are a number of geomorphic indicators that suggest instability outside of normal ranges. Long stretches in this section of the river were without good habitat due to excessive deposition in the channel bed.

In short, we have a river of significant instability. This is what rivers do, moving from periods of constancy through periods of change. These findings are very important as we re-evaluate work that can and should be done on the river. We look forward to the final report — and suggestions for we should and should not do in the years ahead.

The Lemire Collection is coming to Margaree!

DFO, under the guidance of biologist Sophie LeBlanc, sets up a new fish trap on the Margaree

MSA's Larry Forsyth, Peter Poirier, and Derwin Hart assist...

The purpose of the installation is to prepare for a full monitoring of the fence in 2018

Catch & Release: Bill Jollymore

On his lie at Ward's Rock

“Well Bill, either you’ll have to start tying, or we’re done fly fishing…” This stark option was laid out by Bill Jollymore’s father in 1941. It was a Saturday. His family had just finished what they did every Saturday: get groceries, catch a ‘nickel’ at the movie theatre, and stop in at Bert MacLeod’s Bookstore. Father and son stared at the display of Hardy flies from England. Prices had been hiked from twenty-five to twenty-seven cents.

This was wartime Cape Breton. Most families didn’t even have a belt to tighten. And so the next day Bill began to tie flies, secretly cutting into pillows and sofa cushions in search of feathers.

71 years of practice...Neroda flyboxes....Big Intervale Blues, Hairwing Blue Charms...tied exactly as taught by Joe Aucoin

Through his part-time job at the Sports Mart in Sydney, Bill met the already veteran tyer, Joe Aucoin. Joe took Bill under his wing, teaching and supplying him with materials. Feathers were impossible to get because of the war, and so Aucoin invented hairwings. Bill ties Aucoin flies in the exact same manner some 71 years later. At last year’s MSA Dinner & Auction, one of Bill’s creations fetched $450 - top price for a hairwing.

With fresh flies, the Jollymore's took many trips to the Margaree. Bill’s father Elmore had an advantage over other Cape Bretoners: the opportunity to sign an automobile out from work for the weekend. Think ‘Bonnie&Clyde’ as uncles, aunts, cousins and sisters would pile in to a 1932 REO Touring Car for the four-hour trip to Margaree. Gravel, all the way. Sometimes they’d stay at Tompkins Cabins at Garden Pool; in leaner times they’d sleep in the car or in tents made out of old sails.

Fishing bomber...finger on the trigger.

This is Bill’s 80th year on the river, his 75th fishing it. It’s an epic fishing career that spans two distinct eras: 1942 to 1956 and from 1985 on. On his very first trip he was plunked on a big rock and told not to move so that his father could fish. That was parenting in the Thirties. He got his first salmon at age eight on the Tidal Pool.

Bill joined the Forces at age 16 in 1949. He thought his family would miss him dearly, but letters from home assured him that everyone content with a larger share of dinner.

This September I fished with Bill and his wife, Loraine, at Ward’s Rock. They almost always fish there. In 2014, a year remembered fondly, together they hooked 26 fish in 16 days. This year, on his first day out, Bill hooked and landed a dark, deeply kyped fish.

Photo: Lori Jollymore

Bill and Lori have been together for over thirty-four years. Cheerfully they let me know they are each other's ‘seconds’. “All good, no domestics,” grins Bill. Several times he’ll tease Lori, “She’s a willow stick and worm fisherman,” a reference to her childhood chasing catfish on tributaries of the Mississippi.

Whether it’s their easy going partnership, or the incredible Peter McVeigh, hollow fluted cane rods (paid hundreds, worth thousands) or that one’s inner athlete is forever ten years old, Lori rolls out a ton of line, keeping things tight beneath the trees and above the leader-grasping grass that makes Ward’s Rock such a challenge to fish river-right.

Peter McVeigh fluted butt hollow cane ten foot...Hardy reel

Bill outlines how he fishes Wards (“Never at the top, only in the channel river-left”). Periodically he dips into one of his Neroda flyboxes containing Bombers, Blue Charms, Ross Specials, and a whole lot of small black hairwings. “The Margaree has always been a dark river.”

Two years ago while fighting a large fish, Lori lost her balance and came face-to-face with Ward’s Rock. She bounced up, hosing blood. “You look terrible,” said Bill.


“Then take this,” said Lori. She passed Bill the rod, tailed her own fish while staunching the flow of blood with an old sock. Apparently she has a picture of herself with the sock wrapped around her face. These two are indefatigable.

The forty-five minute ride to the Inverness Hospital was as successful for Lori (thirteen stitches and no scars) as it was for Bill’s father some sixty-eight years earlier, when Bill rushed him the same forty-five minutes to the same hospital, a heart attack full underway.

Elmore survived that attack, but succumbed to the next, in 1956. He was forty-seven years old. Every year on October 7th, Bill takes a bit of time out from fishing and pours a small libation of rum into the river, saying a short prayer for ‘his old man.’

The thirty year hiatus in Jollymore’s Margaree is explained by his life in the American west. He ran a fly shop, was a wholesaler for Smith & Wesson, and raised children. In between he fished at his own place on Lac Des Roches near Kamloops. “Seventy fish a day was common. Rainbows two to seven pounds. But gradually the fly-ins became drive-ins, and in the Eighties we started coming back to Margaree.”

His first iteration as a Margaree fisher had no season and no limits. Salmon were bottled for the following winter. “Tasted as good as ever.” His second tour is that of the full-on catch-and-release conservationist. Over the past thirty years he’s been generous with donations and help. He received the Association’s Cormack Award in 2009.

They always drive the eight-thousand plus kilometres from their home in Washington State. This year they brought an incredible collection of classic flies, materials, and tools from their friend and ‘tied-in-the hand’ legend, Harry Lemire. This is a poignant trip for them. Having spent many hours fishing and sharing meals and good times with Harry, the Jollymores are adamant that these Atlantic Salmon flies should find their final home in Margaree.

This is their last fishing trip here, Bill tells me. “It’s a long drive. We barely make it back to Washington State ahead of the snow. And we’d like to fish New Zealand again, and South Africa.”

“And don’t forget Argentina,” pipes in Lori.

Once again, I can’t help but think, “These guys are tough.”

Caught... & Released: Bill Jollymore ~ September 2017
The Lemire Collection is coming to Margaree!
Museum Director Del Muise arranged the production of these information panels for the Margaree-Lake Ainslie Heritage River Society. The exhibit travelled to Belle Cote Days, Margaree Canada Day Festival, and the Interpretive Centre at the Cheticamp Park Office. Look for the at sites for Celtic Colours and Flies, Lies, & Fiddles.

One Fell Swoop Secures Broodstock for Hatchery

The Margaree Fish Hatchery netted all their required broodstock from the Margaree River in one sweep of Dollar Pool on August 30th.

Andrew Morrison (Snorkel) Bill Haley Greg Lovely Bobby Ingraham....and friends

“Usually the male fish - the ‘bucks’ - come later in the season, so we have to go back a second time,” said MSA Director Greg Lovely. “This year we were able to get everything the Hatchery needed in just one outing.”

25 large female and 25 large male fish were gathered at the Dollar Pool on August 30th. Large fish are generally in the 18 to 25 pound range although there were several fish significantly over 25 lbs. Three fish were so powerful that volunteers were unable to hold them, and to ensure safety of the fish, were allowed to escape without undue stress. Several more fish were transported to the Hatchery where the final selection of the best breeding pairs was determined. All fish superfluous to the Hatchery’s operation were promptly released to the river unharmed.

This is just about the part where things get tricky...

It was a special day for those involved. “Getting the man power, equipment, and gear to the river at just the right time is a big challenge. With rain in the forecast, we had to move with short notice,” said MSA President Bill Haley. This turned out to be the correct decision, as enough volunteers were found to move the large, cumbersome nets — and to keep a sharp eye on protecting the fish from harm.

The collection was led by Hatchery manager Bobby Ingraham, and assisted by Hatchery staff Wendy MacEachern, and Andrew Morrison. With notice so short, a diver was not able to be secured in time. Andrew Morrison filled this role using a mask and snorkel and was amazed at what was achieved in just one drag of the pool. “I thought we’d pulled a few rocks, but it turned out just to be the power of the fish.”

Chrome in the net

Hatchery Manager Bobby Ingraham was pleased with what he found in the Dollar Pool, too: large, fin-clipped multi-sea-winter fish. “It gives us a lot of confidence at the Hatchery, knowing that what we do works so well, and for years into the future.”

Fish raised in the hatchery have their adipose fins clipped before they mature. This allows quick identification. Fin-clipped fish were immediately returned to the river because only wild salmon are kept for breeding purposes.

Bobby Ingraham directs the set

The amount of fish in Dollar Pool was also a very welcome surprise. As the seine nets are being closed, fish will rush to escape the enclosure. Volunteers watching for such escaping fish estimated about a hundred fish moved up river. Andrew Morrison kept an eye down stream and also estimated more than a hundred fish. This put the estimated number of holding fish in the Dollar Pool at about 300 fish. A final note: several very large Brown Trout and grilse were also prevalent in the pool.

Late in September MSA volunteers assisted the hatchery and Inland Fisheries staff in a sweep of the Middle River.

Gentle transfer at the Twin Church Pool

The objective on this river is to ensure replenishment of stocks lost to catch and release, if any. In one sweep of the Twin Church (Bridge) Pool all the required stock were acquired to fertilize approximately 30,000 eggs, which should deliver an additional 300 to 600 fish to the Middle River in about two year’s time.

The Lemire Collection is coming to Margaree!

"My wife and I, or my brother, any of us really - we'll do almost anything to get our kids out on the river, outside, out into Nova Scotia..." ~ Alan Harlow

"Doyles always saves our trip!" Rob Harlow provides hands-on experience to Tate, Gavin, Tyler, Colby, Mason and Lucas.

Research stop: Tyler, Colby and Mason Harlow take notes for flies they will tie when the get mome

We stopped in at Alex's shop, The Tying Scotsman. He provided the boys with a treasure trove of materials. "Ya Mae as weal take 'em," sniffs Alex. "I'll no be needin' these." The boys cannot believe their luck!

Mason and Colby take a break at the Dollar Pool.

Three Harlow rods cover every inch of Snag Pool

MSA Works with Stakeholders on Forest Harvesting

Port Hawkesbury Paper, LP (PHP) representatives came to Margaree on July 24, 2017 at the request of the Association, and met in our office in the Cranton Crossroads Community Centre.

“It was an informative and productive meeting,” said MSA Director Greg Lovely. “We gained a firm understanding of the checks and balances that PHP faces every time it begins a cutting operation.”

A relief to see a wide buffer between harvesting and the steep slopes of the Margaree...although much study remains to be undertaken.

The Margaree Salmon Association has been active in monitoring cutting in the highlands this year. On July 4, 2017, several Directors and officers took a helicopter fly-over tour above Forest Glenn Brook, among other highland areas. Port Hawkesbury Paper, LP, provided the tour and the flight.

(Past) President Wood and VP Forsyth prepare for flights over the Highlands

“These were informative and productive meetings,” said Past President, Lester Wood. “We now have deeper understanding of the approval processes and requirements that the Mill faces, both before and after cutting.”

The Association learned that the Mill is licensed to carry out forestry operations on 22% of the Margaree River watershed. During the next four years about 3,662 hectares is planned to be cut, or about 3%. The cuts above Belle Côte will be in 50 hectare sections separated by forested buffer zones.

Regeneration islands have proved a much higher degree of success than techniques of the Seventies and Eighties. However, the effects of flow and drainage are prime areas of interest in the years ahead.

Director Greg Lovely was particularly impressed with a new initiative by the Mill to partner in monitoring of water levels and flows that may impact river levels and watershed drainage.

These are exciting developments according to Lovely. “PHP has to go through many processes to get approval from Province for a harvest to proceed. Management practices have changed in the past couple of decades. There are checks and balances that must occur before, during, and after harvests.”

Thinning by stages...newer techniques do in fact show some promise.

Department of the Environment performs operation audits to make sure that companies hired by the Mill are following proper procedures.

The Association continues to monitor activities in the Margaree River Watershed, working closely with all stakeholders.

The Lemire Collection is coming to Margaree!

Robert Chiasson releases a hen in Dollar Pool

...and guides a new fly fisher into the sport...

Two “Brown Bombers” Return to Margaree

The Margaree Salmon Museum has received a generous donation from Bill and Loraine Jollymore. Beautifully mounted and displayed are pair of hairwing brown bombers tied in the precise manner of their originator, Cheticamp’s Joe Aucoin. The first fly is tied as it was created, and the second as it as evolved.

Aucoin passed away in 1968, but during his many years of tying he shared openly—and Bill Jollymore was an ardent and appreciative student. Poignantly, this is the eightieth year of both the fly, and Bill’s summers on the river.

The rise of Joe Louis sparked widespread sporting interest.

...Inspiring Cheticamp's Joe Aucoin to create a fly named in honour of the Champion of the World

Jollymore was still a teenager tying flies for the Sport Mart in Sydney, when he met Aucoin. Not only did Aucoin share his skills, he also provided a much needed supply of materials to the Sydney area. As a professional tyer, he got his supply from Veniard’s in England. Without such sharing kindness, Bill would have had no source of supply. His last order from Joe was in the early 1960s: 12 jungle cock feathers, 12 salmon hooks, 12 blue hackles, Pearsall’s yellow floss—all for just $6.50.

Aucoin’s famous “Brown Bomber” was a variation of his earlier “Black Bomber”, and is believed to be named in honour of Joseph Louis Barrow, aka “The Brown Bomber” for his success in the boxing ring. Joe Louis began his run for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world in 1935, and defeated Germany’s Max Schmelling in 1938 to secure the title. It is believed Aucoin made this fly in that time period.

Bill saw his first “Aucoin Brown Bomber” around 1944. In his thinking, the fly likely evolved somewhat from it’s earlier version. The originals had a wing that was one and a half times the shank length, and didn’t have the signature herl butt of more recent versions. Sometimes they were tied with a reddish brown floss.

Regardless, the fly proved to be deadly on the Margaree, as dark colours so often are. Generally a large fly, Bill normally brings sizes 2-4 with him on his trips to the river, although they are sometimes tied as small as No. 10s.

Oh. The second “Brown Bomber” display to arrive in Margaree this summer? Well, if you are interested you can bid for it at the Salmon Dinner & Auction on October 7th. Bill and Lorianne created and donated one for the MSA too!

The Lemire Collection is coming to Margaree!

The Old Man

Poem and original photograph contributed by Bill Jollymore

Vemco® Temperature Transmitters Keep Fish Safe

Salmon cool down differently than humans. Without a coronary artery, pumping blood through heart tissue is the only way to take on extra oxygen. When summer heat warms the water, dissolved oxygen levels fall - and fish have to pump even more blood to recover from exertion.

2017 saw river closures across the Maritimes and Newfoundland. Whenever waters warm past 22 degrees Celsius, it’s a good idea to rest the pools—and the fish.

A Year of Temperature Data

This was a summer of fine ‘beach days’. But many worried about the effect of high temperatures on fish already in the river. Association volunteers assisted DFO install, repair, and reset Vemco® Temperature Loggers, providing up-to-date data from eight locations along the river.

Vemco Logger Locations on the Margaree

Temperatures remained low throughout this summer, from Forest Glen Brook right down through Doyle’s Bridge, and on the Southwest Margaree, from MacFarlane’s Brook through to the Forks.

Vemco® logs temperatures every hour they are in operation. To access the data however, we have to get to the unit, and do a manual download. This can involve a lot of ‘foot work’.

The Lemire Collection is coming to Margaree!


The summer of 2017 was once again a successful working partnership with NSLC’s Adopt-A-Stream program.

VP Leonard Forsyth Guided our Adopt-A-Stream Program

We completed work on the following brooks: Marsh, Captain Allan’s, Nile, Big, Ingraham’s, and Lake-O-Law. As in previous seasons, our focus was on habitat restoration. We also maintained existing structure, and cleared stream channels.

We continued our experimental work with hay bale walls. Hay is relatively inexpensive and easy to work with, and, in the event of blow-out conditions, create little or no impact on downstream sites.

Other structures included log and rock walls, digger logs, groynes, and deflectors. Groynes are hydraulic structures that interrupt water flow and limit the movement of sediment. In our tributaries, they help to prevent erosion, and ice-jamming.

Edsel Hart puts the final touches on a digger log.

Early in the season we removed over-winter debris, and completed structural repairs. Older installations have a ‘life of service’ in the river which can greatly be lengthened by annual upkeep and maintenance.

While beaver dams don’t necessarily obstruct fish passage, they can play havoc with the hydraulics and the flow of watercourses. Our crew worked carefully to limit disturbance on the beavers while opening up water flow.

Hay bale low tech: environmental peace of mind

Returning for his last, last, “last” season managing the crew was 2015 Cormack Award winner Edsel Hart, and we are deeply grateful for his dedication and willingness to come ‘out of retirement’ for this season. His working knowledge and dedication simply cannot be understated. Thank you!

The Association wishes to pass on their condolences to the Curley family of Margaree Valley for the loss of Carl. Carl worked with the crew for several weeks before leaving to work in the highland. He passed away suddenly on July 19th. Carl will be missed by many.

Larry Forsyth joined the crew mid season and his hard work and effort was a significant help. Veterans Peters Poirier and Derwin Hart put in another solid year’s work, and we are very grateful for their time and experience.

The Lemire Collection is coming to Margaree!

Flies, Lies, and Fiddles Returns to Margaree

Flies, Lies, and Fiddles returns to Margaree October 12-14, 2017. Hosted by Pieroway Rods, there is a full schedule of events for all interests. As in previous years, Pieroway will be set up in the Blue Barn. This year they will expand to hold several events at the Margaree Salmon Museum.

Company founder Geoff Pieroway will host the event. The weekend promises tons of activity. Each day at the museum will feature a lunch and tying presentation. The lunch will be famous Cavicchi sausages bar-b-qued on site, offered with your $5 donation to the museum. Each day will highlight an internationally recognized tyer.

Jerome Molloy will tie on Thursday. 12-year-old sensation Julian Furlaga will demonstrate his skills on Friday. Bryant Freeman will tie on Saturday. Also at the museum, Geoff will demonstrate stacking, gluing, and spinning cork handles for handmade rods.

A rod builder since his early teens, Newfoundlander Geoff Pieroway was taught by his father Roderick that, “if you do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.”

Geoff spent hours on his lathe crafting customs reel seats and cork handles as a teenager, and will be demonstrating his skills each day in at the museum. This year will mark his sixteenth anniversary of creating his own brand of rods, a startup financed by one heckuva lot of orange Bugs and hair-wing Blue Charms.

Pieroway Rods is based out of Calgary, but Geoff hasn’t lost touch of his eastern roots. He supports our rivers and sport by such gatherings such as Flies, Lies, & Fiddles and the bi-annual Antigonish Rivers Association dinner.

Please keep an eye on Facebook for more information on demos, events and speakers (and possibly a newsworthy announcement or two!) at this year’s Flies, Lies, & Fiddles.

The Lemire Collection is coming to Margaree!


First cool morning of the fall, Tent Pool. John, Dave and I are all dressed for it, but as the sun comes down the steep slope, we’re already shucking off layers.

“What restaurant did you go to?”

“None. It was a whaddaycallit, a pop-up.”

“A wha?”

“Some hipster word, like a pop-up-restaurant…”

“So you were at a restaurant!”

“Not a restaurant. Just in somebody’s house. But what a spot. Beautiful. And the food was awesome.”

“What was on the menu?”

“No menu. You order before you go and everybody has to have the same thing.”

“The whole frickin’ restaurant gets the same thing?!”

“No no no…it’s just you and your friends. You’re like the only guests.”

“O-kay, so I’m a little slow, but have I got this even close? You broke into somebody’s house, had a dinner party, and left without doing the dishes…”

“And then emailed them the money…”



“Guess that’s what they thought of next!”

John gets up and moves down the shingle. He looks over his shoulder at me. “And this late in the year I should try bomber?”

I nod.

On his very first cast a hole opens in the river. A giant sucking sound. So big I think he’s going to fall in. We all go silent.

“There’s like no chance ever, a fish like that coming back, is there?”

Sitting on the very edge of the bench, Dave and I shrug.

Eight casts later John’s ‘deep in the business’ — tip up, multiple jumps, a tail-walk…followed by a skillful and uneventful tailing (Dave) and quick, perfect release (John). Standard issue, large Margaree hen, although dark.

Handshakes all around. “Tell me the name of that place!”

“Nosh. You have to find ‘em on-line.”

“Sure as hell will,” he said, slapping me on the back. “Sure as hell will!”

The Lemire Collection is coming to Margaree!

Who’s Who~Margaree Salmon Association

L to R: Len Forsyth, Bert Hart, Eugene LeBlanc, Wayne Cleveland, Paul MacNeil, Emma Garden, Mike Allen, Bill Haley, Lester Wood, John Stinson, Julie Lovely, Liam Fraser, Greg Lovely, Jack Aikens, Bev MacMillan

President: Bill Haley

Past President: Lester Wood

Vice-President: Leonard Forsyth

Vice-President: Paul MacNeil

Treasurer: Bev MacMillan

Secretary: John Stinson

Directors at Large:

Wayne Cleveland

Eugene Leblanc

Greg Lovely

Jack Aikens

Liam Fraser

Emma Garden

Bert Hart


Julie Lovely

Office: Cranton Crossroads Community Centre

(902) 248-2555

P.O. Box 108

Margaree Centre, NS

B0E 1Z0


The Lemire Collection is coming to Margaree!

An overview of salmon returns. Variable to say the least.

Recently, I had the pleasure of spending an evening fishing the lower part of the Margaree with MSA Director, Greg Lovely. While no fish were hooked, we had a great evening and it was a thrill to see a large number of fish entering the river.

ASF Director of Programs for Nova Scotia ~ Lewis Hinks

While sitting on the bank, waiting our turn in rotation through the pool, Greg and I chatted about salmon returns to the various rivers in the region and the relative health of those runs.

Comparing recent returns is helpful to understand short-term trends. Rivers in the United States and Canada show wide regional differences and year to year fluctuations.

Compared to the lows of 2014, rivers in the Gulf of St. Lawrence posted better returns to counting facilities, but did not surpass numbers recorded in 2011, which is generally considered the best year in the past decade. For example, the Northwest Miramichi counting facility at the North West Barrier recorded 251 salmon and grilse to mid-September. It exceeds the 201 fish counted during the same period in 2014, but fall far short 946 in 2011. On the Southwest Miramichi at Millerton, 840 salmon and grilse passed through the counting fence compared to 668 in 2014.

Angling reports from Quebec rivers were favourable throughout the season. The Matane and Cascapedia showed the same trend as the Miramichi – better than 2014, but not to the level of 2011. On the Matapedia, grilse numbers were down significantly, leading to a smaller overall run this year than in 2014 or 2011.

Newfoundland was unfortunately the outlier, and not in a positive way. Returns to monitored rivers throughout the island dropped sharply, even over last year which represented a significant decrease. The Exploits River, the island’s largest, had 15,530 fish pass through the Grand Falls fishway. Over 41,000 were counted there in 2011. The situation island-wide led DFO to implement mandatory live release in August.

The Penobscot in Maine was a bright spot on an otherwise mediocre year. More than 800 salmon and grilse entered the river this year, about three times what returned in 2016.

Closer to home, returns for the Lahave and the Sackville are also variable. The Lahave saw runs (combined grilse and salmon) of 350 fish in 2011, 63 in 2014 and 213 to mid September in 2017. On the Sackville, 48 fish were counted in 2011, 10 in 2014 and 35 to September 15 in 2017.

Remember that counting facilities only record a portion of the fish that pass. Numbers across the board remain way down since the 1970s.

In specific streams and rivers, where successful conservation and restoration has been carried out, populations have rebounded to historic levels - proof that improvements on a regional or continental scale are possible.

What I can say with some certainty, is that without organizations such as the Margaree Salmon Association and its dedicated core of volunteers, salmon populations would be in much worse condition.

Thank you for all your great work for wild Atlantic salmon and its habitat and I look forward to working with you in the future.

The Lemire Collection is coming to Margaree!

Old & New at the Margaree Salmon Museum

Museum curators Frances Hart and Bernadine Marple have enjoyed a steady stream of visitors to the Margaree Salmon Museum this summer. Over 1600 visitors have stopped in, from as far away as Singapore, Sweden, Holland and Italy.

The museum’s Board is growing with the addition of Anita Coady and Del Muise as Directors-at-Large. Each begins a three year-term. Past President Doug Ross remains in touch. We say a fond farewell to Charles Hart, who served through many years.

Before the start of the season, the Baltzer family donated an original William “Bill” Greenaway ten foot handmade salmon rod. Built by Greenaway in the mid-1940s, the rod was used extensively through the 1980s.

On display in the museum are a series of information panels created by The Margaree-Lake Ainslie Canadian Heritage River Society as part of their Canada 150 celebrations. Designed to be portable and presented to as large an audience as possible, the banners been loaned out to the Inverness Arts Centre, the Coady-Tompkins Library, and the Highland Games held in East Margaree. Otherwise the banner’s home is at the museum.

Bill and Lori Jollymore have donated a shadow box depicting Joe Aucoin’s “Brown Bomber” fly. The display shows one fly tied in its original pattern, and another as it has evolved. The workmanship is amazing.

The museum has taken possession of a tremendous collection of classic flies, tools, and materials from the late Harry Lemire. Internationally recognized both as tyer and fisherman, Lemire was primarily known for steelhead but considered Atlantic Salmon the king of fish. He made a special trip to fish the Margaree a few decades ago.

Harry Lemire (1932-2012) master tied-in-hand fly tyer

Lemire (1932 to 2012) tied his exquisite classical flies “in hand”. He began tying at the age of 10, but it was in 1990 that Harry’s wife Marlene gave him a copy of How to Dress Salmon Flies: A Handbook for Amateurs by T.E. Price-Tannatt (1914). What caught Lemire’s attention was how such beautiful flies could be tied “in-hand”, that is, without a vice to hold things steady.

Museum collections committee members Mike Allen and Bernadine Marple pose with Bill and Lori Jollymore and museum Director Anita Coady before a selection of the Lamire Collection

A veteran of numerous international flying tying shows, Lemire entertained audiences, sometimes taking up to seven hours to complete a fly.

Please keep in touch for more news on this exciting development.

The Lemire Collection is coming to Margaree!

Auction Items

The 26th Annual Margaree Salmon Dinner & Auction is set for October 7th at St. Patrick’s Hall in Northeast Margaree. There are simply tons of great items to be caught—and not released!

A Hardy rod with hard case and reel in good condition is expected to raise over a thousand dollars. Bill Jollymore has donated a copy of his Joe Aucoin Brown Bomber shadow box complete with photograph of the river superimposed with pools map. This intriguing pair flies shows both the original and ‘evolved’ Brown Bomber. We will be offering a Charles Duback print that is valued at two thousand dollars.

Inverness’ Conrad MacNeil has donated a day of deep sea fishing — a $700 valued day trip, and the Atlantic Salmon Federation has added a Fenwick rod to our offering.

In all we (currently, they are still coming in and we thank ALL of you) have over seventy-two items available through our silent and noisy auctions. Canna wait to see you there!

The Lemire Collection is coming to Margaree!

Additional Support for River and Tributary Work

The Margaree Salmon Association gives their heartfelt thanks to the International Federation of Fly Fishers for their donation of $1500 towards the Lake-O-Law Brook restoration.

The Trout and Salmon Federation made a similar $1500 donation to restoration work on Ingraham’s Brook.

Donations over $10 qualify for a receipt for income tax purposes and may be made by contracting the Association through our website.

The Lemire Collection is coming to Margaree!


Geoff Snewing, Carl Curley, and Kenny Crowdis will be missed but not forgotten by family, friends, and community.

Please support our local businesses!

...and that fly is tied!
Created By
Mike Allen

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