The Atlantic Salmon Are Definitely Coming

Pulling Up Sonic Receiver in Baie des Chaleurs

Far out across the Gulf of St. Lawrence, smolts and kelts should be getting ready to pass through the Strait of Belle Isle that separates Labrador and the island of Newfoundland, at least that is what the past half dozen years of salmon tracking data predicts.

In the Baie des Chaleurs, ASF researchers have retrieved the sonic receivers anchored in positions that form a curtain from the NB to Gaspé shores, and downloaded the data. Some of these receivers are equipped with surface buoys while others release from the bottom on an electronic command.

This is an especially interesting year, as we also have an array of receivers across the Cabot Strait, as well as the mobile WaveGlider at sea in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

River Reports


Gaspésie Region

Cascapedia -Despite low water levels for most of June, the Cascapedia Society is reporting the second best June numbers since 1998.  During the month, 552 fish were landed (545 salmon and 5 grilse were released). Two didn’t make it, translating into a 99.9 % release rate.  Many fish were seen waiting in the estuary before the rains came last week.

Matane – To July 1, 430 salmon and 83 grilse migrated through the fish ladder, and overall there were good angling results also.  To June 30, the number of landed fish (75) broke the record set last year of 61.  Keeping in mind that the bigger part of the run comes through late in July and early August, these are great results.

Dartmouth – St-Jean – York Rivers – These rivers were not spared from low water conditions since the season opening of May 25.  Angling results have picked up since last week with badly needed rain greatly improving conditions.  With the large tides associated with a full moon (July 3), a fresh run of 2sw and grilse is expected.

Grande Rivière – Don Bourgouin, professional  guide and manager of the Barachois based Grey Ghost Destinations, reports action is turning on again on this jewel of a river.  Rain improved the fishing conditions during the last few days of June.  Known for its crystal clear water and interesting pools, it is especially interesting as fish are starting to gather in numbers.

Lower St-Lawrence Region

Matapedia River

Matapedia – To June 30, the CGRMP reported that 222 fish were landed in June.   Considering the low water conditions during the month, these numbers were slightly higher than the previous five year average of 210.

Causapscal – To June 30, 101 salmon were landed including 15 releases.  The June 2012 number was higher than the previous 5-year average of 86 for the month.  Season ends on July 15.

Mitis – The season started on July 1.  To July 3, 390 fish had been counted, 279 salmon and 111 grilse.  The Mitis Zec reports that 36 fish have been landed to date. No info on types of fish or releases. At the same date last year, 363 fish had been counted (247 salmon and 116 grilse). At July 3 2010, 235 fish had been counted ( 194 salmon and 41 grilse).

Charlevoix Region

Release of a LARGE Salmon on the Godbout

Malbaie River – To July 2, 65 salmon and 11 grilse  (total 76) have migrated through the fish ladder, a significant improvement over the 34 fish at the same date in 2011 and 73 in 2010.
As of July 1, 72 fish have been landed including the release of 53 salmon.  In 2011 at the same date, 115 fish had been landed which included 89 released salmon.

Saguenay Region

Sainte-Marguerite River – For the month of June, 86 salmon had been landed and released.  To that date, there were no reports of any grilse being landed.  During June, water levels and flow were a roller coaster, with the river flowing at 17 cubic metres per second at mid month and around 40 cubic meters per second at the end of June. As of June 30 2011, 62 salmon had been landed and released with 4 grilse being retained.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Big Falls – Humber Leaper – not every leaper is a perfect, graceful image

Exploits – This is continuing to be the super-river of North America. As of Tuesday, 12,756 Atlantic salmon had gone through the fishway, which is 7,500 more than in 2011.

Terra Nova – Something good is going on there, as 874 salmon had returned as of July 1, vs. 163 last year. There are continuing reports of improving heath in the marine ecosystem around Newfoundland, and perhaps this is one major result of the improvements.

Middle Brook – This is another river showing good numbers this year. There had been 791 salmon return as of July 1, vs. 27 last year. Given all the high water last year in June, it may be that is helping to skew the results this year.

Conne – The Conne River is doing rather well this year, with 1,888 reported as of July 1, which is double last year’s total to July 1 of 974, and is actually ahead of the total for all of 2011. There still are reports of Atlantic salmon laying off in some of the river estuaries.

Elsewhere on the south coast, some rain helped the Grey River reach medium flow levels, but they have been dropping again

Western Newfoundland remains dry with runs slow. Western Arm Brook, for example had only 20 salmon to July 1, but had 99 last year to the same date.

Harry’s River – Again this year, a DIDSON unit is being used to count salmon. But as with other west coast rivers, the numbers are down – 1,118 this year vs. 1,710 to July 1 last year.

Torrent – Fifty salmon by July 1 this year, compared to none last year. But 2011’s lack of fish was due to inspections being undertaken at the fishway regarding ongoing issues regarding problems of the fishway.

Sand Hill – This Labrador River had a phenomenal run last year. This year the July 1, numbers are 348 large and 730 small (1,078 total), which stacks up nicely against the total of 178 by July 1 last year.

Nova Scotia

Rain continues to be an issue – or maybe a desire – in Nova Scotia.

LaHave – the Morgan Falls Fishway reported 27 salmon and 17 grilse as of yesterday. It needs to be remembered that the fishway was closed for a considerable period in June due to the low water.

Margaree –  Both this river and the Cheticamp remain very low, and an extended period of rain would suit both the salmon and the anglers, if not the Cabot Trail tourists. ASF’s Director of Nova Scotia programs has only heard of a half dozen fish being brought in during the last week.

New Brunswick

Miramichi – The water level was great earlier in the week, but perhaps up a bit today. Keith Wilson remarked on 15 salmon brought in yesterday.

The Northwest Miramichi Barrier reports numbers of large salmon  very similar to last year – 83 in 2012 and 86 in 2011. However grilse are another matter – only 30 by June 30 vs. 114 last year. This is even considerably less than the 73 of the 5-year average.

The Southwest Millerton Trapnet is down as well, with 30 large salmon to June 30 this year vs 104 in 2011; and for grilse, 96 this year vs. 169 last year.

Saint John – This year’s run is rather lacklustre to date. There have been 32 large salmon against 85 last year, as of June 30. For grilse, we only have 12 as of June 30 vs. 190 last year.

Nashwaak – For large salmon, there were 19 to June 30, against 70 last year. Disappointingly, only 2 grilse to June 30 in 2012 vs. 150 in 2011.

Restigouche River – The Upsalquitch Barrier has a more promising story to tell, with 134 large salmon to June 30, slightly ahead of the 130 for 2011 and way ahead of the 73 for 2010. And even for grilse, the number is comparable, with 77 in 2012 to June 30 and 72 in 2011.


Penobscot – Numbers continue to be low in 2012, with less than 600 returning through Veazie by July 3.

Atlantic Salmon Returns at Veazie Dam – Penobscot

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