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Encouraging Penobscot Salmon Returns

Late Breaking News

Late on Thurs. June 11, the Quebec Minister of Forests, Fauna and Parks released new regulations for Atlantic salmon angling along the Restigouche River where it is the boundary between Quebec and New Brunswick. The intent is to harmonize the regulations, since all NB salmon must be released in 2015.

All Atlantic salmon must be released:

  • Between the Campbellton bridge and the mouth of the Matapedia River (Zone 1 of the Restigouche River)
  • Between the mouth of the Matapedia River and that of the Patapedia River (Zone 2 of the Restigouche River)
  • Further regulations contained in the Press Release (Fr) included below, including the need to use single, barbless hooks. The barbs may be fully pinched down on existing flies

Patapedia – Not mentioned in the press release is that sadly the Quebec Government did not include the Patapedia River itself in the change of regulations. The status quo prevails on the Patapedia, with Quebec licence holders allowed to take two grilse per day and use double hooks.

Press Release (Fr) detailing changes to salmon angling on the Restigouche River.

Press Release (Fr) detailing changes to salmon angling on the Restigouche River.

Matane, La Grande Rivière, and Ouelle – Live Release for ALL LARGE SALMON UNTIL JULY 31

The Matane, La Grande Rivière, and Ouelle will have live release only for Large Salmon from the June 15 opening until July 31. Then depending on whether the Conservation Minimum has been met, they will determine whether or not large salmon can be taken from then until the end of the season. This is a step in the right direction for the Matane and the other rivers. La Grande Rivière only met 28% of its conservation limit in 2014.

Maine

There is a cautious optimism on the Penobscot River returns in 2015.

This photo is of the main hopper at Milford Dam.  In the photo the hopper is at the top of it's lift to dump fish into the upper flume.  From here, the fish will swim upstream to a collection/counting facility where Atlantic salmon broodstock will be collected.  River herring will also be collected for stocking further upstream.  American shad will be returned directly to the river.  This facility and the Orono trap begin operation today, April 15. 2014. The image was taken about 10 days ago. (photo Don Dow/NOAA)

This photo is of the main hopper at Milford Dam. In the photo the hopper is at the top of its lift to dump fish into the upper flume. From here, the fish will swim upstream to a collection/counting facility where Atlantic salmon broodstock will be collected. River herring will also be collected for stocking further upstream. American shad will be returned directly to the river. This facility and the Orono trap begin operation last April 15. 2014.  (photo Don Dow/NOAA)

When the new Milford Dam Fish Lift went into operation at the beginning of the 2014 season, there were high hopes for good returns of both wild Atlantic salmon and other species migrating from the sea back to the Penobscot River system. But it never happened, and the low numbers were definitely discouraging.

In 2015 the numbers have risen considerably, and with them the hopes for even better returns in future. The fish bypass construction at Howland continues and when completed should improve returns up the Piscataquis Branch of the Penobscot.

Now for the numbers: As of Wed, June 10th, there were 230 Atlantic salmon through the Milford facility, and even better was the ratio – 227 multi-sea-winter large salmon to 3 grilse.

By comparison, in 2014 to June 11th there were only 31 salmon returned, and in 2013 there had been 200 by June 13th.

Forty of the salmon this year came in on Sunday, July 7th, with 29 more on Monday. The run slowed down on Tuesday with the cooler weather and rain, but appears to have picked up again.

Besides seeing increased salmon returns, the situation this week shows that the Milford Fish Lift really works, and that some terrible engineering mistake had not been made in its design or construction. Certainly some had raised that question in 2014 with the low numbers.

What do we have to say about the returns for the remainder of the season?  Bring them on!

Newfoundland & Labrador

Tag Return Draw by SPAWN

There is exciting news if you are a resident of Newfoundland and Labrador. SPAWN is offering a major set of prizes for practicing live release and sending in your tags. Prizes include a canoe, a 6-day fishing trip in Labrador, and another for three days. Waders, books and more!

But be aware that the SPAWN TAG RETURN DRAW’s closing date is June 30th, with winners announced July 27th, and it is only for resident anglers of the province.

Details are below:

SPAWN Draw

SPAWN TAG RETURN DRAW

On the Exploits, approximately 10 fish had been counted as of Thurs., June 11th, noted Fred Parsons of ERMA. “The real run begins somewhere in the middle of the month, so perhaps another week,” he said. He added that while the Avalon Peninsula received rain recently, that the centre of Newfoundland was on the dry side, with river levels dropping.

A fine salmon swimming away to continue its journey upstream.  Photo Bill Bryden

On the Exploits River, a fine salmon swimming away to continue its journey upstream. Photo Bill Bryden

Nova Scotia

It is still early days, with few finding Atlantic salmon yet.

LaHave River – The Morgan Falls Fishway is reporting 1 large salmon and 1 grilse as of June 8.

Margaree – “The water is perfect, but anglers are not seeing any salmon,” notes ASF’s Lewis Hinks.

“On the Cheticamp, the water is great. Excellent fishing till Monday, June 8th, but the fishing has slowed in the past few days. The water level is below 1 on the gauge and dropping,” notes Lewis Hinks.

Lewis Hinks, ASF's Director of Nova Scotia Programs, was teaching salmon angling skills at Ecole NDA in Cheticamp last week. Here he discusses finer points of casting with a summer student of the Cheticamp Salmon Association who assisted with the Grade 8 students.

Lewis Hinks, ASF’s Director of Nova Scotia Programs, was teaching salmon angling skills at École NDA in Cheticamp last week. Here he discusses finer points of casting with a summer student of the Cheticamp Salmon Association who assisted with the Grade 8 students.

West River – Sheet Harbour – This river, down the Eastern Shore from Halifax has been the site of a liming project for about eight years to show how an acid-rain impacted river can be restored. A short update on this year’s activity is noted by Lewis Hinks.

Currently a counting fence, with design new for the East Coast, is being built to assess returning adults. This is a resistance board weir-style fence and while used on the West Coast and Alaska, it is the first time being used in Atlantic Canada. Note that a variation on this fence is being used on the Nashwaak River in NB. This is joint project of NSSA, DFO, the Eastern Shore Wildlife Association and ASF. Funding is from a number of sources including DFO, ASCF and the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Smolt counts are still good, but we were unable to get a count this year as the smolt wheel was still frozen in place when it was needed and we were unable to get access to it. Smolt numbers have been running around 10,000 to 12,000 smolts.

It is important to note that as the liming has continued, the entire stream ecosystem has come back to life, with increased numbers of invertebrates and overall variety of living things.

Quebec

As with all regions, it is early in the season – too early to make predictions

Matapedia – The river is flowing at 80 cubic metres/sec. To June 10, 2015 there were 20 fish  landed, with 1 released. By comparison, in 2014 to June 10, there were 31 fish landed, and 3 released

Causapscal – Water levels are high but very fishable. To June 10, 2015 there were 22 fish landed and 4 released. By comparison, in 2014 to the same date there were 36 fish landed and 7 released.

York, Dartmouth and St-Jean – Charles Cusson notes that there are reports of fish starting to appear, and reports of large salmon being observed and hooked on the York. The York is the only one that usually has returning fish this early. For the others, the expected beginning of the run is around the end of the third week in June.

A typical early June large salmon of the Gaspe region. Photo Quebec Sporting Inc.

A typical early June large salmon of the Gaspe region. Photo Quebec Sporting Inc.

North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence

MoisieCharles Langlois, ASF (Canada) Vice-chair reports salmon being sighted at ther 13.5-mile pool, which according to him is a favourable sign for the season ahead. Still, a note of caution is in order.

In the next week or so there should be more information coming from many of the other rivers of the region.

Saguenay Region – The first salmon of 2015 was reported landed and released on the Ste-Marguerite this week. Everyone keeping their fingers crossed for more to come.

New Brunswick

One major point to mention is that this year is that salmon licenses are available online. The page above has various secondary pages with details of the licenses, and other details for both residents and non-residents.

Do note that for critical conservation reasons that there is zero retention for all Atlantic salmon in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in 2015.

Here and there a few salmon are being reported. A very few have been picked up by the Millerton and Cassilis trap nets, but at Dungarvon and the NW Barrier none have been counted yet.

Manley Price of Rocky Brook noted that he had heard of several bright fish – most found a week ago, at Porter Cove, and at the mouth of Salmon Brook.

Chris Connel angling on Wednesday in the Juniper area of the Southwest Miramichi.

Chris Connel angling on Wednesday in the Juniper area of the Southwest Miramichi. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

 

Encouraging Penobscot Salmon Returns

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