From the Blog

Wilson’s Miramichi Report & MSA News June 14th

DSCN1182Hi All
I hear there are salmon being put through both the Millerton and Cassilis trap nets – one or so a day at each location. There were 4 salmon and 1 grilse that went through Millerton today though so maybe numbers will continue to pick up. I believe this is the first grilse they have seen.

Two gill nets have been put in near Eel Ground but are not for catching salmon. NBDMC AAROM began a study of Atlantic sturgeon in 2013 and these nets, with 12 – 14 inch mesh, are being used in this study. Atlantic sturgeon was a primary food stock for the communities of Metepenagiag and Eel Ground in centuries past but since has become increasingly harder to find in the Miramichi River, with the last one caught about 5 years ago. The Atlantic sturgeon study is aimed at quantifying the number of sturgeon within the Miramichi watershed.

Field Report
The smolt wheels and net have been removed and cleaned / repaired in preparation for next year. We were fortunate this year to not have had any bad weather affecting the operation of the wheels, allowing them to be fished every day, though high winds did stop us from fishing the trap a few days. Fortunately when we did get back to the trap after a two day fish we did not find high mortalities or too many fish to count. Holly has not had a chance to analyze the data as of yet but the results are forthcoming. You are probably also wondering how the 160 acoustically tagged smolts made it through the system. Preliminary results show about 90% of the tagged smolts made it to the head of tide – the Red Bank Bridge on the Northwest and the Quarryville Bridge on the Southwest. This was typical and expected – the interesting part will be how many made it through the estuary to the bay.

Stocking of salmon fry should begin next week with over 500,000 fry to be stocked in the Northwest, Little Southwest, Sevogle and Cains Rivers and in the Southwest at Rocky Brook, Clearwater and Juniper.

The Barriers are In!
The Northwest and Dungarvon Barriers were installed on June 2nd and 3rd. No salmon were seen but the Northwest Barrier reported 91 brook trout in the trap from June 3rd to the 7th. Sources tell me though that 2 large salmon arrived at the Dungarvon barrier the night of the 7th. Looking at 2014 figures one salmon had arrived at the Dungarvon this same week but none had arrived at the Northwest. I will try to send regular updates as the traps fill up!

Water Temperature Monitoring
Real time monitoring stations of water temperature, water level, air temperature, and precipitation parameters are now up and running on the Northwest, the Southwest and the Little Southwest Miramichi Rivers. Access can be found on our website main page – Quick Links – Water Levels and Temperatures – LSW, NWM & SWM.

Regulation change in Quebec
As reported from the ASF website…
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) include the need to use single, barbless hooks. The barbs may be fully pinched down on existing flies – See more at: http://atlanticsalmonfederation.org/rivernotes/#sthash.d69Bmb9B.dpuf

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

River Updates and 2015 ASF “In the Water” Live Release Contest

Live Release is the “in” word of the year. Due to a need to preserve the runs, it is in 2015 the rule along all the open salmon rivers in New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia. This provides extra opportunities for you with ASF’s new 2015 “IN THE WATER” LIVE RELEASE CONTEST.

2015 Live Release Contest.

2015 Live Release Contest.

Click on the poster above for a larger version, to read all the details. The three images featured were the top entries for last autumn’s contest. There were nearly a hundred last fall, and we look forward to seeing more this year.

Remember to review your live release techniques to see those Atlantic salmon safely back on their way upstream to spawning grounds. You can view the video produced by ASF and FQSA by clicking here.

Quebec

Causapscal

Causapscal Release

Jim Lawley prepares to release a 20 lb. salmon on May 31 in the Bateau Pool, Causapscal River. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF

Many Quebec rivers do not open until June 15 and others July 1, but the Causapscal is seeing its usual early run of large salmon. Jim Lawley, ASF (Canada) board member, released a 20 lb. and 12 lb. salmon in the space of two hours this past Sunday, fishing with CGRMP (Corporation de gestions des rivières Matapédia et Patapédia) guide Yves Leblanc who has guided the Causapscal for 22 years now. The Causapscal has a reputation for ruggedness, and usually requires a steep climb down to the river – and back up to the road at the end of the day.

Newfoundland

Good and bad NL tags

Good and bad NL tags

It is disconcerting to begin the season with a government announcement that a portion of the salmon tags sold to anglers do not work correctly. This raises all kinds of questions, but for details, click here.

In western Newfoundland the season started well, despite some predictions for a late season. In Crabbe’s there was one report of hooking eight fish. Another account noted seeing fish in the lower Crabbe’s at the Trans-Canada Highway Bridge and at Middle Barachois.

Another report of releasing a 7 lb and a 12 lb salmon on the Grand Codroy, which is certainly nice to see. But others on the river at the same time were not having any success.

Generally the Bay St. George rivers have been high, but are falling quickly. All very fishable, and pools should be better defined in the next few weeks.

Nova Scotia

Margaree – Reports that four grilse were brought in and released since June 1, and as of today water levels are good for angling. In the Cheticamp water levels are good, and the salmon seem to be coming in on time. there are reports two fish were angled and released last week.

Lewis Hinks notes that with these reports, there is a cautious optimism so far this year – but it remains very early in the season.

Pool on the Cheticamp River in Cape Breton, early June. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

Pool on the Cheticamp River in Cape Breton, early June. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

New Brunswick

One can tell that it is still a bit early for bright fish by the focus on the striped bass tournament, and the focus on trout in reports. Still, there has been a report of a 12 lb. bright salmon released in the Doaktown area.

Fishermen out for striped bass on Sat., May 30.

Fishermen out for striped bass on Sat., May 30. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Striped bass spawning in the Miramichi on Saturday. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Striped bass spawning in the Miramichi on Saturday. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Any report would be remiss if it did not mention the one-day fly fishing event for high school students, called the “Fly Fishing Olympics” at the MSA’s centre. Activities included fly casting, fly tying, knot tying, plus a live release video demonstration by ASF’s Nathan Wilbur. It also included an underwater robotics demonstration, plus Miramichi fishing story-telling. Definitely covers the science and heritage of New Brunswick salmon.

Vince Swazey, a gifted speaker as well as salmon conservationist, speaks to students at the "Fly Fishing Olympics" held Fri., May 29.

Vince Swazey, a gifted speaker as well as salmon conservationist, speaks to students at the “Fly Fishing Olympics” held Fri., May 29. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

 

How well will the Cains River do in 2015? Last year there were numerous reports of many returns, including some late in the autumn, to the Cains. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

How well will the Cains River do in 2015? Last year there were numerous reports of many returns, including some late in the autumn, to the Cains. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Restigouche – There are just a few reports of salmon. Giles Nadeau at the Restigouche Salmon Club noted one large salmon had been spotted last week upstream.

Charles Cusson, ASF's Director for Quebec Programs, talked to guides on Saturday at the RRWMC's Matapedia Guide Night. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Charles Cusson, ASF’s Director for Quebec Programs, talked to guides on Saturday at the RRWMC’s Matapedia Guide Night. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Maine

Penobscot

This year’s return of 101 Atlantic salmon to Tues., June 2 is a major improvement over returns of the past few years, and offers some space for optimism this year. Certainly it does not compare favorably with the better returns of 2008 to 2012, but still is a positive sign.

Penobscot Catch Summary to Tues., June 2, 2015.

Penobscot Catch Summary to Tues., June 2, 2015.

Kennebec – As of May 31, seven salmon had reached Lockwood Dam on the Kennebec.

River Updates and 2015 ASF “In the Water” Live Release Contest

Atlantic Salmon In A Living Context

ASF's Geoff Giffin angles for kelts on the Northwest Miramichi. The fish will have sonic transmitters inserted. Eleven will have satellite tags as well. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

ASF’s Geoff Giffin angles for kelts on the Northwest Miramichi. The fish will have sonic transmitters inserted. Eleven will have satellite tags as well. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Atlantic salmon rivers are complex interacting living ecoystems. As spring is unfolding, Atlantic salmon smolt hormone changes are already altering both the look and the physiology of the fish, preparing them for life in a totally alien environment, the ocean. The rising water temperatures are also triggering changes in their behaviour, and soon they will be turning down-current to make that migration into their new world.

We all know how vulnerable they are as hungry predators aplenty are waiting in their path – striped bass, and cormorants  among them. They need the cover provided by some of the other members of the ‘complex’. They need to have smelt and alewives moving in the rivers, providing cover and attracting their share of attention from predators. They need to have ice jams gone that might impede migration.

To have all the components in place we need to make sure we have those healthy rivers. We need to see that nature has the chance to maintain that balance among species, to give Atlantic salmon runs their opportunity to recover.

ASF's Jonathan Carr and his son Evan carefully release a kelt implanted with an acoustic transmitter on the Northwest Miramichi. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

On Monday, May 4, ASF’s Jonathan Carr and his son Evan carefully release a kelt implanted with an acoustic transmitter on the Northwest Miramichi. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

ASF’s research through the past decade has also shown that healthy kelts may be very important to the population as a whole. In the tracking at the Strait of Belle Isle, ASF’s sonic tracking has shown the kelts passing through in the same period as smolts from different rivers. Do they have some role in the overall successful migration? No one knows at this point.

This week several ASF staff have been on the rivers angling for kelts in order to insert acoustic transmitters. In addition, eleven will have satellite pop-off transmitters attached. Last year some of the satellite transmitters showed salmon from New Brunswick travelling in waters near Baffin Island, and Greenland.  Nathan Wilbur had this to say about the Northwest Miramichi work this week:

Up on the Northwest and Little Southwest where we were set up for kelt tagging, the ice had only gone out on Friday (May 1) and so it was still very early. Geoff Giffin and I hooked 13 kelts on Monday but we heard from guides that fishing had been even better upriver, suggesting many of the fish were still upriver and hadn’t moved down to feed on smelt yet.

There was a heavy run of smelt in the lower river and gulls, eagles, osprey, loons, cormorants, and other predators were abundant and catching the tiny fish. The area was alive with wildlife, including all of the above and Canada geese, beaver, muskrat – all were enjoying the freshly opened river and spring time.

The large salmon kelts we caught were in particularly good shape, thick through the back and bright. Geoff and I thought this might suggest they came into the river fairly late last fall. Sometimes they brighten up from eating smelt, but since the ice had only gone out a few days earlier, we felt it was too early for them to have re-conditioned on smelt.

This is an interesting start to the Atlantic salmon’s 2015 year in the Miramichi River system.

New Brunswick

Southwest MiramichiBrock Curtis noted at midweek:

“A quick update of the river from my location in Blackville. We had a late start due to ice still in the river. Shortly after it flowed though the guys were hooking salmon. It was quite good for the first few days considering the rain and snow we got. Lots of rain and cold temperatures were the norm up to this past weekend. Slow this week. The wind is unreal the last two days. Snow is disappearing fast and the melting has brought the river up again. A few salmon being caught but scattered. River looked quite dirty last night and high. Smelts were in Quarryville last Sunday. Salmon are probably feeding on them up here now. We had word in the tackle shop yesterday that a salmon was caught in Doaktown area so more kelts to come down this way yet. Should get another weekend or two out of it.”

Derek Munn of The Ledges noted that the kelts or black salmon were in particularly good condition this year.

Little Southwest Miramichi Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures noted that the ice was out of the river now, but that the warm days mid-week caused the water to rise. But by Friday it was dropping again.

Boats at the Oxbow on Monday, May 4. Photo Debbie Norton/Upper Oxbow Adventures

Boats at the Oxbow on Monday, May 4. Photo Debbie Norton/Upper Oxbow Adventures

Prince Edward Island

The far northeast corner of the province is proving to be quite interesting for salmon. Genetic work is indicating that North Lake Creek and Cross River have genetically distinct populations of Atlantic salmon that may be original, not impacted by hatchery stock.

Fred Cheverie and others involved with the Souris and Area Branch of the PEI Wildlife Federation are asking everyone to be very careful to return all smolts to the river.

The Souris group is asking all to take care to return all smolts to the river unharmed.

The Souris group is asking all to take care to return all smolts to the river unharmed.

Newfoundland

ASF’s Don Ivany notes that west of Deer Lake the heavy snowfalls this past winter have combined with a late spring to put things back a couple of weeks. Meanwhile east of Deer Lake the snow load was much less, so that late spring conditions may advance more quickly.

Leddingham Shoals as seen earlier this week. This is a popular salmon angling location on the lower Humber River. Photo Don Ivany/ASF

Leddingham Shoals as seen earlier this week. This is a popular salmon angling location on the lower Humber River. Photo Don Ivany/ASF

Maine

While fishway counting facilities are now in place, there has been no reported activity yet.

Atlantic Salmon In A Living Context

A River for All Seasons

Every river needs to be celebrated. Like magic carpets, rivers flow from highlands to the sea and we are fascinated by them our entire lives. Rivers with runs of Atlantic salmon take that magic to a different level entirely.

In salmon rivers we have creatures that grow and then at the right moment of their life development, length of day and water temperature they turn downstream and swim into the seemingly trackless oceans to swim their way unerringly to feeding grounds, and eventually back to the self-same river where they were born. It is almost like every fish has a personal sat-nav system – but one developed long before the rest of us even thought of the idea.

This early in the season the thoughts flow to the kelts; salmon that spawned last autumn, and spent the winter in the rivers, not eating. Soon they will be returning to the ocean to travel off to far feeding grounds again, repeating a miracle of migration.

Upsalquitch River Day

Last Saturday, April 25, was just such a day when we celebrated a river. ASF’s new Director of New Brunswick Programs, Nathan Wilbur, took part in Upsalquitch River Day that drew together almost 200 adults and children to celebrate that river and its salmon.

“There was still ice floating on the river, so folks were not out on the river yet.”

Nathan Wilbur was set up with a display, along with DNR, First Nations, Restigouche Watershed Council and CPAWS. It was a sharing of all that the Upsalquitch promises for the warmer months ahead. Plenty of children learning about the river in a new way, and their parents and grandparents, including river guides and camp owners sharing the latest news and the hopes of the season to come.

It was Upsalquitch River Day at the Robinsonville Fire Hall, with many coming out for the celebration. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

It was Upsalquitch River Day at the Robinsonville Fire Hall, with many coming out for the celebration. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

This was a remnant of an ice jam on the Upsalquitch on Saturday. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

This was a remnant of an ice jam on the Upsalquitch on Saturday. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Many Kelts in the Miramichi

Nathan Wilbur was out on the water on Sunday, April. 26.

“We put in at the Priceville Foot Bridge and motored upriver a few kilometres to the area near Wilsons, checking out the edges of the river. There was a bit of ice here and there on the shore, but none floating down the river. The water level was high but had come down about a metre in the previous three days, and it was perfect spring fishing levels.”

“We released three smaller kelts, and hooked a couple of others. One had a hook in its mouth from last fall that we removed as well. The condition of the fish looked normal for kelts. One was quite colourful, and a couple were looking quite bright.

“We ran into friends and they said they had released about a dozen kelts. And the folks we talked to at Wilson’s were all catching fish. It was a great day, and an interesting start to the season.”

Nathan Wilbur connects with his first Atlantic salmon of the 2015 season on the Southwest Miramichi on Sunday.

Nathan Wilbur connects with his first Atlantic salmon of the 2015 season on the Southwest Miramichi on Sunday.

Obviously both water and air temperatures were on the cool side, but that just adds to the spring experience.

Northwest Miramichi – Reports are that ice is still holding back the angling.

Maine

Penobscot – The Milford fish lift went into operation on Monday. This year there are apparently some small changes being made to smooth the operation there – adjustment of stop logs, etc.

Nova Scotia

Cheticamp – While there is no salmon season yet, ASF’s Director of Nova Scotia programs did note that anecdotally there were more kelts than usual in the river this year.

A River for All Seasons

As Winter Ebbs on Atlantic Salmon Rivers

Check below for links to the LIVE RELEASE Video available in both Eng. and Fr.

Check below for links to the LIVE RELEASE Video available in both Eng. and Fr.

With warmer temperatures, one’s thinking turns to Atlantic salmon and wild salmon rivers. This year the big news is the requirement to live release ALL salmon in those salmon rivers open in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

There was good reason for this change, with last year’s return of salmon to the Miramichi, Northumberland Strait rivers and elsewhere being the lowest on record. With this in mind, it is worthwhile polishing techniques involved with live release, and one good way of doing this is to view a few times the video produced by ASF and FQSA with the assistance of the Quebec Government.

Check it out, with links to YOUTUBE lower resolution versions in English and French, and a link to VIMEO high resolution on ASF’s website. CLICK HERE:
http://asf.ca/live-releae.html

New Brunswick

Rivers are slowly opening up, and more often than not the ice is floating around enough to be a hazard to any boats or wading anglers yet, especially with temperatures still low and water levels high.

The big news of course is the change in the regulations this year. The formal notice is at:

http://www.glf.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Gulf/FAM/Recreational-Fisheries/2015-Salmon-Angling-Gulf-Region

Besides total live release, there is now a requirement to use single barbless hooks wherever it was previously necessary to use an artificial fly.

The other change is that STRIPED BASS retention season has been extended and modified. For full details:
http://www.glf.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Gulf/FAM/Recreational-Fisheries/2015-16-Multiyear-plan-Striped-Bass

The extended retention season for striped bass in 2015 is:
1.    May 11 to 31
2.    August 1 to 23
3.    September 4 to 7
4.    October 24 to October 31

Certainly concern has been noted in the past few years that striped bass predation on Atlantic salmon smolts has increased greatly. While research on this is still ongoing, most will be glad to see an extended season.

Miramichi

Debbie Norton notes that there has been considerable ice buildup and movement on both the Little Southwest Miramichi and Southwest Miramichi. With considerable scouring taking place there is a potential for alteration to pools in the river. At the same time the hope is that things will loosen up quite a bit by the coming week.

On the Little Southwest Miramichi the ice has begun to move this week Photo: Debbie Norton/Upper Oxbow Adventures

On the Little Southwest Miramichi the ice has begun to move this week Photo: Debbie Norton/Upper Oxbow Adventures

Restigouche

David Leblanc is reporting that the Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft has been breaking up the ice below the interprovincial bridges in Matapedia, and that the Kedgwick and Little Main Restigouche are largely free of ice.  But there has also been a report that there has been a backup into the Kedgwick from ice downstream in the Restigouche.

Certainly many anglers are anticipating getting onto the rivers in the next week to fish for kelts.

Coast Guard Hovercraft breaking ice slabs on the Restigouche River.

Coast Guard Hovercraft breaking ice slabs on the Restigouche River this week. Photo: David Leblanc

Nova Scotia

Cheticamp – While Atlantic salmon season doesn’t open until mid-May, trout season is open on some parts of the river.

Rene Aucoin notes:

“The river has opened quite a bit since opening day of trout season last Wednesday when there was only one open section and lots of ice floating down. I had to trudge through a foot of snow to get to the river. I believe that that may be a first for this time of the year and – have been fishing here since the early 1970s.  We are at least 4-5 weeks behind our normal Spring temperatures. The Spring thaws have yet to start and that the river is only of normal height.”

From Terre Rouge looking downstream, taken on Mon., Apr. 21. Photo: Réné Aucoin

From Terre Rouge looking downstream, taken on Mon., Apr. 21. Photo: Réné Aucoin

It is certainly that tantalizing moment, when winter will finally lift its grip on the rivers. Depending on water temperatures, they may not be heading downstream to the ocean for another month or so.

As Winter Ebbs on Atlantic Salmon Rivers

Live Release “In the Water” Contest Winners

ASF had 90 entries for the Live Release “In the Water” Photo Contest.

After deliberations the WINNER of the 2014 ASF Live Release Photo Contest has been chosen and this was a VERY difficult decision

Congratulations to Leon Garneau Jackson for submitting his first-prize winning photo taken by Christian Kirouac on the Petite Cascapedia. He was the winner of a new Sage rod!! The 1st Runner Up is Quentin Condo with his incredible photo of his two sons, Aidan, 13, and Liam, 9, releasing a beautiful salmon at Alder Island Pool on the Cascapedia River…look at those smiles! Honourable Mention goes to Christopher Minkoff for his GORGEOUS underwater shot! Thank you so very much to all who entered!

We are already making plans for our 2015 Live Release Photo Contest so please stay tuned for further details in the New Year!

First Prize

Leon G. Jackson releases a salmon on the Petite Cascapedia on 22 July. Photo Christian Kirouac.

Leon G. Jackson releases a salmon on the Petite Cascapedia on 22 July. Photo Christian Kirouac.

The winning photo had fascinating tones, and unusual visual lines that all drew attention to the Atlantic salmon. In addition the reflections on the water’s surace added yet another dimension to the image.

First Runner Up

Quentin Condo

Photo taken by Quentin Condo of his sons Aidan 13 and Liam 9

The quiet sense of pride and excitement is palpable in the smiling faces as the boys prepare to release their salmon. The eyes of the closest boy being sharp, and making contact with the viewer is an important element of the image. For the eye, the triangular movement from the tail of the salmon to the heads of the boys, down to the head of the salmon and along the salmon is part of the appeal of it. The image is quite large, which helps the sense of detail. Note that the perspective is from somewhat closer to the water surface than that of a standing individual, which helps give a sense of immediacy as well as providing better perspective on the faces.

Honourable Mention

Photo by Christopher Minkoff of female Atlantic salmon

Photo by Christopher Minkoff of female Atlantic salmon

There is very much a sense of both a very healthy salmon and gorgeous colour on its flank, as it is gently held as it recovers from the angling battle. This female is most certainly full of eggs, and one can easily sense it will go on upstream to spawn successfully. Patterns of light on the surface and the bottom frame the salmon, with bright lines of light just behind its head the initial focus for the eyes.

River Notes

New Brunswick

Saint John River – DFO has been busy with other things, so there was some delay in posting numbers from some of the counting facilities, but the Oct. 31 reports are now available. But they don’t make happy reading.

To Oct. 31, the Mactaquac Dam had only 134 grilse and 77 large salmon, vs. 291 grilse and 134 large salmon in 2013 – and we thought 2013 was a poor year. As comparison, for grilse, the 1996 – 2000 average was 4,062 and large salmon 1,656. This is most definitely a river with major problems, and certainly dams are part of it.

Nashwaak – To Oct. 31 there were 48 grilse and 15 large salmon this year, vs. 55 grilse and 39 large salmon in 2013. The 1996 to 2000 averages were 497 grilse and 243 salmon, incidentally.

Magagudavic – ASF continues to monitor this river in southwest New Brunswick and to Oct. 31 there were 7 grilse and 3 large salmon, something of an improvement over 2013’s 3 grilse and 3 large salmon.

Northwest Miramichi – The Northwest Protection Barrier had 202 grilse and 66 large salmon to Oct. 31, vs the 2013 240 grilse and 252 large salmon. The 1996 – 2000 averages were 661 grilse and 253 large salmon.

The Northwest Cassilis Trapnet to Oct. 31 had 117 grilse and 94 large salmon, vs 401 grilse and 203 large salmon in 2013. No numbers are available for the 1996 – 2000 average.

Southwest Miramichi – The Millerton Trapnet has been intriguing this year, with those 746 grilse and 592 large salmon to Oct. 31, vs 468 grilse and 383 large salmon. Did many of these salmon move up into the Cains this year? Anecdotal information says they did, but we need to wait for the scientific assessments.

As a matter of interest, the 1996 to 2000 averages for the Millerton Trapnet were 1,420 grilse and 585 large salmon.

For the Dungarvon Barrier, with its issues of failure during the Tropical Storm, there were 114 grilse and 83 large salmon counted, vs. 244 grilse and 292 large salmon in 2013.

Nova Scotia

Sackville River – To Oct. 31 there were 7 grilse and 3 large salmon, vs. 5 grilse and 3 large salmon in 2013. By comparison, the 1996 to 2000 averages were 157 grilse and 20 large salmon.

LaHave – The Morgan Falls Fishway reported 43 grilse and 21 large salmon to Oct. 31, against 75 grilse and 111 large salmon in 2013. By comparison the 1996 to 2000 averages were 750 grilse and 143 large salmon.

 

 

Live Release “In the Water” Contest Winners

Binocular Thoughts

We have a Special Report on Binoculars for the Rivers at the end of this week’s ASF RIVERNOTES. Don’t Miss it!

liverelease1Also, remember that the deadline for your submissions to the “Salmon in the Water” Live Release Photo Contest is coming up Oct. 31. Send along any last minute entries to savesalmon@asf.ca

Meanwhile, there are some very interesting late runs of Atlantic salmon occurring in some rivers. But with government cutbacks on assessments, how widespread are these late arrivals?

New Brunswick

Southwest Miramichi in Autumn.

Southwest Miramichi in Autumn.

Northwest Miramichi – Grilse continue to travel upriver in some strength, with the Northwest Barrier counting 17 for the week as well as a single large salmon. To say the fall run has brought numbers of grilse nearly to last year’s total is faint praise indeed, for last year was a poor year as well. The number of large salmon, at 66 to Oct. 19, 2014 vs 252 to the same date in 2013 is disturbing.

Northwest Barrier returns to Oct. 19.

Northwest Barrier returns to Oct. 19.

Southwest Miramichi – For the week ending Oct. 19, there were 8 grilse and 5 salmon, not exactly a continuation of a fall run. Thus to Oct. 19, the 2014 total is 114 grilse and 83 large salmon, against 244 grilse and 292 large salmon in 2013.  These numbers continue to be of great concern. The full impact will need to await later fall analysis, and one needs to remember that perhaps another hundred salmon should be added to the 2014 total due to the lack of count following Tropical Storm Arthur, but the collapse of large salmon returns appears to require greater action to protect runs.

Dungarvon Barrier, Southwest Miramichi, to Oct. 19, 2014. Note that no fish were counted for about 19 days in July.

Dungarvon Barrier, Southwest Miramichi, to Oct. 19, 2014. Note that no fish were counted for about 19 days in July.

Millerton Trap –

An extra comment needs to be made on the numbers being counted in the Millerton Trap on the Southwest Miramichi.

There have been 743 grilse and 568 large salmon counted at the Millerton trap to Oct. 15, 2014. That compares favourably with the 466 grilse and 377 large salmon in 2013.

One is left wondering what exactly is going on with the numbers. Certainly there have been many reports of large numbers of Atlantic salmon going up the Cains River.

Below is the multi-year graph for large salmon at the Southwest Miramichi Millerton Trap Net.

018

Guide wading in Southwest Miramichi, near sunset.

Guide wading in Southwest Miramichi, near sunset.

Jacquet River – There has been an interesting run taking place on the Jacquet River recently. For the week ending Oct. 12, there were 26 grilse and 30 large Atlantic salmon counted, basically a 50% increase over the entire run up to Oct. 5, 2014!  In total numbers, there have been 83 grilse and 92 large salmon to Oct. 12, compared with 114 grilse and 112 large salmon in 2013 to the the same date.

There is no Upsalquitch Barrier this year, so one naturally wonders if other rivers beyond the Jacquet in the north of New Brunswick are experiencing a late “rush hour” of salmon.

Nova Scotia

Margaree

John Hart of the Margaree Salmon Association provided an update today on salmon and river conditions.

Northeast Margaree taken last week, Sky Lodge area. Photo Lewis Hinks

Northeast Margaree taken last week, Sky Lodge area. Wouldn’t binoculars be wonderful, to see what is happening, and to check out the hills in detail? Photo Lewis Hinks

 “The latest on salmon fishing here on the Margaree: It continues to be a challenge.

Fish are being seen in most pools on the river although the vast majority seem to be dark fish, and to date there have been very few males and or grilse reported over the run of the season.

Some visitors have been quite happy with the number of observed fish while the number of hookups have left them not quite so enthused.

Up until recent rains, water levels were at summer levels although levels are currently closer to seasonal. More rain forecast so hopefully moving fish and catch rates will improve.

Special Report on Binoculars for the Rivers

Zeiss Vicrtory T FL 8x32 may be the best binoculars ever made. But they are possibly too bulky for most salmon anglers, except around a cabin or tent. Weight 19 oz.

Zeiss Vicrtory T FL 8×32 may be the best binoculars ever made. But they are possibly too bulky for most salmon anglers, except around a cabin or tent. Weight 19 oz.

Is it time to consider having binoculars in your wilderness and salmon angling kit?  There can be good reasons to have them along, whether it is the “fun” aspect of watching that family of otters or mergansers down the river, the moose grazing at the water’s edge, or if you are canoe angling, to get a good look at the water conditions or the edge of the river for a place to land.

ASF’s President Bill Taylor takes a small pair along when salmon fishing from a canoe for the last reason mentioned.

With the holiday season not far away, perhaps this is a good opportunity to look more closely at what is out there for binoculars. They have CHANGED in the past 15 years, and one can say the general mid-price model is now better than the top models were then.

In part it is the eyepieces, which are now likely to be sophisticated, with wide angle of view, and exceptional eye relief for those who wear glasses. The in-line prism design has reached full maturity with phase-coatings that provide near total transmission of light. Best of all for you salmon anglers out there, most models are now waterproof and fogproof.

So which model? Here are some points to consider.

Modern roof-prism binoculars with wide-angle eyepieces are incredibly sharp, with wide field and long eye relief. Plus waterproof.

Modern roof-prism binoculars with wide-angle eyepieces are incredibly sharp, with wide field and long eye relief. Plus waterproof.

The standard size binoculars beloved by birders and others, such as 8×42 are just too heavy and bulky, weighing in perhaps at 22 to 27 oz., and besides, they are more than you need. Remember that the first number is the magnification and the second number the objective lens diameter.

There are now superb mid-size binoculars such as 8×32, and the really good ones, made by Zeiss, Leica and Swarovski are perhaps the best binoculars ever made. Period. They may suit you, but still weigh from 18 to 22 oz. They have wonderful clarity, and are sharp virtually from edge to edge. The focus is internal, and no problem if you drop them in the water for they are waterproof and fogproof. Use them in the rain all you like.

Opticron Discovery WP PC 8x32 are only 14 oz., and just 4.3 x 4.6 in., but too big for a vest pocket. Tackle Box size instead.

Opticron Discovery WP PC 8×32 are only 14 oz., and just 4.3 x 4.6 in., but too big for a vest pocket. Tackle Box size instead.

But for the salmon angler the smaller 8x32s are still the bulkiest most salmon anglers should consider. For example, there is an ultra compact Opticron Discovery 8×32 that has an almost entirely carbonate construction to reduce weight, is sharp across 75% of the reasonably wide field of view, and weighs 14 oz. But with a single hinge, it will fit in a field coat, but it is unlikely to go into anyone’s vest pocket.

The best of the modern compact binoculars, generally 8×25, offer the best set of features for a salmon angler. They weigh in at 10 to 12 oz, and the marvelous modern wide-angle eyepieces with 17mm of eye relief or more make them relatively easy to use. It needs to be noted that generally compact binoculars require a little more care in placing the eyes in relation to the eyepieces. But the two models listed below are among the easiest to use.

Swarovski CL 8x25 fold to a compact size, yet are easy on the eyes and are sharp optically.

Swarovski CL 8×25 fold to a compact size, yet are easy on the eyes and are sharp optically.

Binoculars are very individual, so it is a good idea to try them if you can. Two models that you might look at are the Pentax DCF 8×25 that sells for about $100, and the Swarovski CL 8×25 that sells for about $800. That’s right – two good binocs that fold up into a small package, and have good optics – one eight times more expensive and both good. But good is relative, and the Swarovski 8×25 is probably the best compact ever made,  at least according to some. The Pentax is nearly as good, but it is like comparing a Honda Civic to a Mercedes top end convertible.

Pentax DCF 8x25 is even lighter, and 1/8th the cost of the Swarovski binocs. Not quite as wide a view, and just a little fuzzy at the edge, but extremely good value.

Pentax DCF 8×25 is even lighter, and 1/8th the cost of the Swarovski binocs. Not quite as wide a view, and just a little fuzzy at the edge, but extremely good value.

Both binoculars have great eye relief for those who wear glasses, and fine wide angle eyepieces. All of these compact binoculars have narrower fields of view, and the Swarovski is certainly better, but the Pentax acceptable. The Swarovski is clear and bright from edge to edge, the Pentax close, but not quite as good and not quite as bright.

With two hinges, both of these binoculars fold into a small package that will fit in jacket or even large shirt pocket.

Both binoculars are well made and rugged. The Pentax says it is waterproof to a depth of 3 feet. The Swarovski is good to 13 ft. In both cases, if you are using them in a canoe, consider tying the binocular’s strap to a thwart just in case… and both models will do fine if there is a dunk.

One benefit of the small Pentax or Swarovski 8x25s is being able to use them one-handed.

One benefit of the small Pentax or Swarovski 8x25s is being able to use them one-handed.

Are there even smaller alternatives? Yes, but as the optics get smaller, it becomes harder to position them in front of the eye, and without a certain weight to the binoculars, the scene jumps around a little more, and the binoculars harder to hold steady. Also, note that if you don’t wear glasses, you can check out binoculars with less than 15 or 16 mm of eye relief.

What about those Tasco 8x21s that cost $11?  Definitely useable. Not too sturdy, and forget about wearing glasses with them. The central area has reasonable clarity, and they weigh less than 7 oz. But most find them difficult to use, being in that ultra-compact range of binoculars. Great care is needed to place the eyes just right, with some way to support the arms to reduce motion of the binoculars.

Some will say they love monoculars – and they are cutting the weight in half. But many of us find that image just isn’t as satisfactory as binoculars, with that special integration our brains allow us.

Swarovski CL 8x25 extended

Swarovski CL 8×25 extended

Where to look for binoculars? If you have a local store, it provides you the opportunity to try them out. Check whether they fit your hands well, whether the optics suit you, and if they will be rugged enough. Internet stores like Eagle Optics have both US and Canadian outlets, and most definitely your favorite outdoor emporium like Orvis, L.L.Bean, Cabelas and REI has considerable selection. Other sources from Amazon to B & H increase the possibilities further. Finally, there are occasional bargains to be had on Kijiji or Ebay.

One last thing is to check the warranty. Most of these binocular makers have warranties extended from five years to a transferable lifetime warranty.

Binocular Thoughts

Atlantic Salmon Anglers, Happiness and Beauty

Atlantic Salmon anglers don’t see the world as others do. They  have an altered sense of happiness and sense of beauty that is different from others. They dream of quiet or roaring rivers, and fantasize on opportunities to stand in waist-deep water or sit in a canoe gliding softly across a river. Those are the delights of the Atlantic salmon angler.

They are focused on a creature that remains invisible much of the time, a fish beneath the surface that is capable of bursts of speed to 20 mph, yet has an unpredictability of behaviour that some would call disconcerting.

C. D. Clarke releases a beautiful fall Atlantic salmon this September on the Miramichi

C. D. Clarke releases a beautiful fall Atlantic salmon this September on the Miramichi

Salmon anglers spending hours on the edge or in the middle of the river, see beauty in the glorious colours, shape and sheen of these wild Atlantic salmon – so much so it sometimes startles them. They see scales that change colour with the light and the shadows. They marvel at the sleek profile and sense of purpose delineated by every feature of the fish.

The fish become individuals – at least some of them do.

A beautiful profile - Atlantic salmon released in July on the Cascapedia River by Richard Barbacki.

A beautiful profile – Atlantic salmon released in July on the Cascapedia River by Richard Barbacki.

The salmon above is a good example. We had some email conversations with the angler on which of the two salmon he photographed was the most beautiful. Not which was the better photo – but which was the most beautiful salmon. We will leave you to decide, with the second salmon in the image below.

In years like 2014 the numbers of Atlantic salmon have been lower, causing concern among anglers and alarm among scientists. The concern is important for the future of the species. But to anglers the sense of concern is filtered through those extra memories of the  river encounters, and the sense of wonder at having such a beautiful creature inhabiting its waters.

That is what makes a passion. It is having the knowledge, but also the inner understanding. And make no mistake, Atlantic salmon angling is a passion.

Richard Barbacki releases an Atlantic salmon in July at the Alder Pool on the Cascapedia.

Richard Barbacki releases an Atlantic salmon in July at the Alder Pool on the Cascapedia.

River Notes

Quebec

Cascapedia – Totals for the Year 2014

Final Statistics are available for the year, below them are the numbers for 2013 and 2012. As most are now aware, the Cascapedia has been a live release river, and the numbers of this river’s runs has been very reassuring.

In the 2014 season, note that numbers are down from 2013, as they have been for the majority of Atlantic salmon rivers in North America.

2014 numbers for Atlantic salmon of the Cascapedia.

2014 numbers for Atlantic salmon of the Cascapedia.

2013 numbers for the Cascapedia River.

2013 numbers for the Cascapedia River.

cascapedia-2012

Nova Scotia

Northumberland Strait Rivers –

Gerry Doucet sends along this report:

Conditions for the Northumberland rivers remain poor with little to no rain again last week.

However the Harvest Moon produced giant tides and salmon just started showing up in the tidal pools on the River Philip and the West in Antigonish County and the East in Pictou County.

The forecast looks promising as anglers await the arrival of predicted moisture over the next few days. At the mid-point in October, the 2014 salmon season has been as poor as we have had on record.

Margaree –

John Cameron on the Margaree at Ross Bridge Pool on 1 Oct. 2014.

John Cameron on the Margaree at Ross Bridge Pool on 1 Oct. 2014.

On Monday there was a nice bit of rain to temporarily bring up the levels somewhat, but overall the low water conditions have continued, with many Atlantic salmon now throughout the system, but especially in the lower part.

Dr. John Chaisson with salmon on the line, Ross Bridge Pool on 1 Oct., 2014. Note the low water levels.

Dr. John Chaisson with salmon on the line, Ross Bridge Pool on 1 Oct., 2014. Note the low water levels.

 New Brunswick

Wednesday was the last day of the Atlantic salmon angling season in most of New Brunswick, and there were a couple of spectacularly warm and wonderful days at the end. From now until Oct. 29 the Tabusintac, Burnt Church and Bartibog remain open.

Northwest Miramichi –

The Northwest Barrier count for the week ending Oct. 12 has interesting numbers. In the week there were 30 grilse and 4 large salmon. That preponderance of grilse ties in with the comment last week by Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures that anglers were catching about three grilse to every large salmon.

To Oct. 12, 2014 overall for the year, the numbers are less impressive. The barrier count is 185 grilse and 65 large Atlantic salmon, vs. 227 grilse and 250 large salmon in 2013.

The Northwest Miramichi, Sevogle, Little Southwest Miramichi, and related watersheds are such beautiful, captivating waters to spend time on that we need to make sure there will be Atlantic salmon there for the future. Continued total live release would be a start.

Paul Elson releases a 24-pounder on 9 Oct. 2014 on the Little Southwest.

Paul Elson releases a 24-pounder on 9 Oct. 2014 on the Little Southwest.

Paul Elson fished much of the last week of the season on the Little Southwest Miramichi, Northwest Miramichi, and nearby.

In the last couple of days of the season I didn’t see very many fish. I suspect they were moving up the rivers rather than lazing in the pools. Went to a couple of favourite pools on the Northwest and saw a couple of fish jump, but overall there weren’t many there.

Same went for the Little Southwest. The fish seemed to be moving up the river.

8 Oct., 2014 on the Miramichi - the leaves still on the trees. Paul Elson

8 Oct., 2014 on the Miramichi – the leaves still on the trees. Paul Elson

Southwest Miramichi –

Not a lot of activity at the Dungarvon Barrier. For the week ending Oct. 12 there were 21 grilse and 12 large Atlantic salmon.

Considerable thought is going into making the best estimate for the period the Dungarvon Barrier was destroyed by Tropical Storm Arthur. Various estimates have been put forward, but it looks like the number of fish not counted might have been in the order of 100. Click on the image below of the spreadsheet, with the estimates in yellow.

Dungarvon Barrier counts. Numbers in YELLOW box are likely numbers not counted during the period in July when the fences were down.

Dungarvon Barrier counts. Numbers in YELLOW box are likely numbers not counted during the period in July when the fences were down.

Restigouche

David LeBlanc on Thursday noted fairly heavy rains that should help bring up water levels throughout the system, and facilitate the upstream movement of the Atlantic salmon.

Rain is coming down in northern New Brunswick and Gaspe, and should help Atlantic salmon on their way upstream.

Rain is coming down in northern New Brunswick and Gaspe, and should help Atlantic salmon on their way upstream.

 

Atlantic Salmon Anglers, Happiness and Beauty

A Fall Run on the Southwest Miramichi

It is time to sharpen the pencils, dig out a stray notebook from under the clutter of your desk, plus perhaps open Excel on your computer, and crunch some numbers.

New Brunswick

Southwest Miramichi

New numbers have come in regarding the Miramichi.

Most interesting were the Millerton Trap numbers from Sept. 30, especially when compared to both last year, and to the numbers for Sept. 15 of this year.

To begin, the Sept. 30 count at Millerton was 631 grilse and 426 large salmon. Compared with 443 grilse and 358 large salmon last year.

Thus the grilse numbers were up by 46% over last year at Millerton

More interesting is the influx of grilse and large salmon this year. The Sept. 15 numbers were 379 grilse and 289 large salmon.

Thus there were 252 grilse counted at the trap over that 15 day span, meaning 16.8 grilse per day in the trapnet.

It also means that 40% of the grilse count for the year, up to Sept. 30, was in that roughly two-week period in the last half of September.

For large salmon, 137 came into the trap in the last half of September, or 9.1 large salmon per day. Plus this constituted 32% of the 2014 numbers, up to Sept. 30.

Does all of this constitute a significant fall run of salmon for the Southwest Miramichi at least? It appears the answer is a profound “yes”, as long as one calls the last half of September part of the fall season.

Looking at the graph provides another, more sobering perspective. The numbers of grilse and salmon may have come up significantly, but when compared over the past generation, the low return is sobering. Some combination of predation that includes striped bass in the estuaries and some predators at sea, plus perhaps winter survival conditions is impacting the numbers for the Southwest.

Count of grilse numbers at the Millerton Trap through the past generation.

Count of grilse numbers at the Millerton Trap through the past generation.

What do the Dungarvon Barrier numbers have to say about the state of runs? Not too much. The latest numbers, from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5 are just in and there were 4 grilse and 3 large salmon in that period. As a reminder, seasonal totals are not reliable this year for the Dungarvon Barrier, with it out of commission for more than two weeks due to Tropical Storm Arthur in July.

The histogram for large salmon at the Millerton Trapnet reflects the same situation as that of grilse.

Large salmon numbers at the Millerton Trapnet on the Southwest Miramichi as of Sept. 30, 2014

Large salmon numbers at the Millerton Trapnet on the Southwest Miramichi as of Sept. 30, 2014

Little Southwest and Northwest Miramichi

The other facility of note is the Cassilis Trapnet, located on the south bank of the Little Southwest Miramichi a few kilometres upstream from the Miramichi Salmon Conservation Centre.

The Cassilis Trapnet numbers are just not there this year. To Sept. 30 there were 89 grilse and 73 large salmon counted, compared with 379 grilse and 181 large salmon last year to that date.

Cassilis is not showing this year any real sign of a fall run. The Sept. 15 figures were 71 grilse and 58 large salmon.

Thus the facility counted 18 grilse over the 15 days, which was 1.2 grilse per day. The segment of the run from Sept. 15 to Sept. 30 constituted 20% of the grilse return, not enough to say there was a major Fall run. Do remember that there were actually more fish entering the Little Southwest and Northwest symbol at this time.

As to large salmon, the Cassilis Trapnet had 15 large salmon in that 15 day period, so an average of one per day. It constitutes about 21% of the large salmon returns for the year, again constituting a comparatively week fall run – so far.

Meanwhile the Northwest Barrier numbers were encouraging this week, the Sept. 29 to Oct. 5. There were 8 grilse and 5 large salmon – 13 for the week. Numbers are down year over year however – 155 grilse and 61 large salmon in 2014 vs 191 grilse and 220 in 2013.

On the actual fishing, it has been improving in the past few weeks. Water levels were low, but a nice big rainfall on Oct. 6 and 7 made a big difference, and it looks as if more might be falling on Oct. 8 and 9.

Howard Gould releases a nice salmon as the water rose on the Little Southwest and Northwest Miramichi. Photo Upper Oxbow Adventures

Howard Gould releases a nice salmon as the water rose on the Little Southwest and Northwest Miramichi. Photo Upper Oxbow Outdoor  Adventures

Hopefully this will encourage another surge of Atlantic salmon into the river, and will almost certainly result in more salmon that have been holding in the lower river to move upstream. This should be true of the Southwest, Little Southwest and Northwest Miramichi.

Nice rain on the weekend for the Little Southwest Miramichi.

Nice rain on the weekend for the Little Southwest Miramichi.

Two major statements on the Little Southwest and Northwest Miramichi are evident: live release is essential for the future of these rivers, and the pressure from striped bass predation needs to be addressed in a more comprehensive way.

Nova Scotia

Northumberland Strait rivers – Unfortunately a picture is worth 1,000 words when it comes to near-drought conditions. The photo below was taken on Wednesday, showing that these rivers are still in need of heavy rain. Predictions are for only small amounts of rain to hit this area.

The theme this fall has been of low water on the Northumberland Strait rivers. This was taken Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2014. Photo: Lewis Hinks

The theme this fall has been of low water on the Northumberland Strait rivers. This was taken Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2014. Photo: Lewis Hinks

Margaree – Water levels continued to drop on Wed, but stabilized somewhat on Thursday morning. A few good soakings are needed, and it doesn’t look like that is going to happen for the next week. Still, the photo below, taken 7:40 am on Thurs. Oct. 9, shows how magical the Margaree can be this time of year. Plus, the water level does not look all that low…

Northeast Margaree River, taken Thurs., Oct. 9 at 7:40 am

Northeast Margaree River, taken Thurs., Oct. 9 at 7:40 am

nw-marg-levelQuebec

While the salmon angling is over, considerable rain throughout the lower St. Lawrence and Gaspe regions should keep the salmon happy, which is, after all, very important.

We are still awaiting year-end numbers from the Cascapedia.

Peter Bennett released 21 and 24 pounders at Forks Pool on  the Grand Cascapedia the last week in September.

Joe Coletta releases a gorgeous Atlantic salmon on the Cascapedia near the end of September.

Maine

Rain fell on the weekend. The river levels were low, and more rain would be appreciated as spawning season comes closer.

Remember the Photo Contest

liverelease1ASF’s “In the Water” Live Release Photo Contest has generated many entries so far, and we invite all of you to submit your entries. Remember that the salmon being released needs to actually be in the water.

A Fall Run on the Southwest Miramichi