Good News, and Not So Good News

Good News first. As of today DFO has lifted the previous closures on the Miramichi River, and along with the return to overall fishing, rain from recent storms has brought up river levels.

There is even more good news. Check out the bottom of the blog post for photos of the breaching of the Veazie Dam on the Penobscot, helping to give that river’s Atlantic salmon a fighting chance to increase in the years ahead.

Didymo mats on Duval River

Didymo mats on Duval River. Photo by Carole Anne Gillis/Conseil de l’Eau Gaspésie sud

Now the bad news. Alerted by a local resident regarding an unusual stream growth, the Conseil de l’Eau Gaspésie sud investigated the Duval River, a tributary of the Bonaventure, and found a thick mat of Didymo – as thick as those in New Zealand rivers.

The mats were 45 mm thick, and perhaps developed due to the relatively stable stream flows there. The thinking is that streamflows that change less might be more likely to allow thick mats to form, without breaking off . Undoubtedly bits will break off and float downstream, colonizing various areas in the Bonaventure.

Anglers need to be absolutely certain they thoroughly clean and sterilize their waders, equipment and boats so as not to transfer this plant that threatens the health of our Atlantic salmon rivers. There is particular nervousness that Didymosphenia geminata will eventually harm spawning beds. Waders without felt soles are definitely better for reducing the spread of this algal species, and ASF encourages switching to alternatives.

River Reports

Europe

A few general comments are in order on how rivers across the North Atlantic have been faring in 2013.

Iceland – 2013 is looking like a boom year for most Icelandic rivers with large numbers of well-fed salmon returning. From Orri Vigfusson:

“The rivers Haffjardará, Langá and Thvera/Kjarra all had record openings and the rivers Midfjardaraá, Blanda and Rangá(s) are also fishing extremely well.  Overall the catch is 40% better than average.”

Orri Vigfusson notes that the rivers of northeast Iceland have been delayed due to a particularly heavy snow year.

Angling in Iceland - water is always high enough... photo Martin Silverstone/ASF

Angling on Iceland’s Rangá River – water is always high enough… photo Martin Silverstone/ASF

Norway – There is now major concern about the numbers returning to Norwegian rivers in many regions, and as of tomorrow commercial fishing is being shut down along the coast of Nordmøre, in the Trondheimsfjord, in Nord-Troms and in Vest-Finnmark. In rivers of those regions all female salmon are to be released. We would certainly encourage this conservation approach, as it does help. Rivers such as the Gaula and the Orkla are of special concern. Meanwhile, on the Alta River, King Harald reportedly caught five salmon, releasing four of them, and in general the Alta has had returns that have been okay – but not great.

Ireland – The conditions of heat and drought impacting the UK have also affected Ireland, but in the Galway area the fishing has still been good. The warm temperatures and low water have definitely been impacting the Moy, but even here the reports have been optimistic on the number of salmon returning. Meanwhile everyone would like to see cooler temperatures.

Bann River near Kilrea, Northern Ireland

Bann River near Kilrea, Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland – The Bann has seen an especially good year for fish building up below the barrage at Carnroe, but the warm temperatures have made the actual angling slow.

Scotland & England – Some good to high water levels, but scorching heat this month has definitely slowed the action, with water reaching 22C/70F.  In the past week there have been occasional cooler days on rivers like the Tay, and salmon are coming in. Other reports have titles like “Difficult Week on Tweedside”. Below the border, in England, there have been a few thunderstorms helping drop the temperature and raise water on rivers like the Tyne. Anglers on the Wye in England and Wales are complaining of low water levels and warm temperatures, with minimal salmon action.

Bill Young (right) releases a salmon on the Ponoi in 2013. The Ponoi is having a spectacular year. Bil Young landed 23 in one day, and 67 in his time on the Ponoi this season.

Bill Young (right) releases a salmon on the Ponoi in July 2013. The Ponoi is having a spectacular year. Bil Young landed 23 in one day, and 67 in his time on the Ponoi this season.

Northwest Russia – The Ponoi has had a fantastic season, although it has warmed up somewhat in July. The Rynda as well has been doing well. However last week there was a tragic accident on the Rynda with two British anglers killed in a helicopter crash.

North America

New Brunswick

Northwest Miramichi Barrier Returns to July 21

Northwest Miramichi Barrier Returns to July 21

While the high temperatures and closures had reduced the salmon action, there were still reports of good fishing on the Miramichi. There may be an very nice weekend coming up! The overall numbers of returning salmon certainly show an improvement over last year. Great to see the temperature-related closures ended, but keep watch for a few conservation-related closures that may be put in place on Aug. 1

Northwest Miramichi – With 186 large salmon and 123 grilse to July 21, that is much better than the 112 large salmon and 85 grilse of last year. Overall numbers are up more than 50% from 2012 levels.

Southwest Miramichi - Numbers at Dungarvon Barrier to July 21

Southwest Miramichi – Numbers at Dungarvon Barrier to July 21

Meanwhile, on the Southwest Miramichi the numbers are also a great improvement over 2012. To July 21 there have been 205 large salmon at the Dungarvon Barrier, vs. 85 last year. And there have been 175 grilse vs. 107 last year.

Water temperatures, as measured by DFO, had reached as high as 23C/74F about a week to 10 days ago, but have since dropped back. Still, best for both the angler and the salmon to think about angling in the cool of the earliest daylight hours.

Jacquet River to July 21

Jacquet River to July 21

Jacquet River – Unlike the Miramichi, numbers at Jacquet River do not look promising this year. Only 19 large salmon vs. 45 in 2012, and 2012 numbers were already depressed. Equally, the grilse are largely missing with 49 this year vs. 104 last year.

Upsalquitch – Although the barrier numbers are only to July 15, they were posted late, so are worth remarking on. Especially as the large salmon total is 259 to that date vs. 225 in 2012. Grilse numbers are disappointing, being 153, even lower than last year’s 160. For comparison, the 2011 grilse number was 311, certainly a good year. Once again, it would appear that ocean conditions have not been kind to the grilse.

Nova Scotia

LaHave – The Morgan Falls Fishway continues to report a good year, with 99 salmon and 63 grilse to July 24, much better than the 27 large salmon and 18 grilse to July 17 last year.

Northeast Margaree River Level

Northeast Margaree River Level

Margaree – There has been some action on the Margaree, as a thunderstorm came through the other day raising water levels and some salmon are being landed. Meanwhile, the Cheticamp, known for a spring and fall run, is between seasons, so to speak.

 

Quebec

Rain is forecast for the last few days of July into early August.  This will make both salmon and anglers happy and potentially will improve already encouraging numbers for this season.

Matapedia Numbers to July 22

Matapedia Numbers to July 22

Matapedia River – To July 22, 768 fish had been reported landed (including 95 releases). On July 22 the river was flowing at 21 cubic meters per second.  The badly needed rain in the forecast for July 19 and 20 did not materialize in the quantities forecast.  What rain that did come down in the Amqui area helped stabilize the flow and levels.

At the same date in 2012, 556 fish had been reported landed (including 45releases).  The river was flowing at 20 cubic meters per second.

The CGRMP made the following graph available comparing total fish landings on July 22 2000 to 2013.

Causapscal River
Latest numbers, as of July 21 at the counting facility were 600 fish having entered the sanctuary pool.  “The vast majority of the fish are salmon and only a handful of grilse” reported Michelle Lévesque, DG of the CGRMP during an on-air interview with Radio-Canada. The graph below provides numbers to ponder. The 2013 returns are almost as good as the great 2011 numbers for this river, certainly an encouraging sign.

Causapscal Numbers in 2013 nearly match the best returns over the past decade.

Causapscal Numbers in 2013 nearly match the best returns over the past decade.

Matane River
A follow-up on illegal logging practices: After contacting the municipality of St-René-de-Matane as well as the appropriate provincial government departments, the Fédération québécoise pour le saumon atlantique (FQSA) was informed that a cease and desist order had been issued and mitigating actions begun.

As of July 23, 828 fish (668 salmon and 160 grilse) had migrated though the counting facility.  Also to that date, 162 fish were reported landed (118 salmon and 44 grilse).
Accurate comparative data to 2012 was not available.

Madeleine River
As of July 23 2013, ZEC representative Jocelyne Campion stated during a Radio-Canada interview, “if we can get a little bit more rain, we stand a chance of surpassing the 2012 run totals.  As of today 1,o11 fish have migrated through our fishway, we had a grand total of 1,062 for all of last season”.  This has translated into most of the available rod days being sold. Mandatory live release of mature salmon is in effect until July 31 in the limited rod section.

Aux Rochers River
To July 21, 466 fish had entered the trap for relocation further upstream.  To date, a total of 179 fish have been landed (125 salmon released, 4 grilse released, 19 salmon retained and 31 retained grilse).

À Mars River
To July 20, 31 salmon were reported landed and released with an additional 43 retained.  To date 224 salmon have been counted. At the same date in 2012, 61 fish had been reported landed (48 salmon released and 13 grilse retained).

York River

Angler on York River

Angler on York River

Mandatory live release of mature salmon for the remainder of the season was implemented following the in-river count early in July that revealed insufficient numbers of spawners and many fish afflicted with saprolegnia.  This disease has plagued this beautiful river on many occasions during the last 10 years.

To July 20, 201 salmon were reported captured (115 salmon released and 86 retained).

Newfoundland

Exploits – The July 21 numbers look great for this river that vies for highest salmon production in North America.  28,287 in 2013 vs 26,674 in 2012, and reasonably close to the 30,346 five-year average of 2008-2102.

Campbellton River is also doing nicely with 4,032 vs 3,304 in 2012. In general that is true of most of the rivers of Central Newfoundland. The Terra Nova has 2,889 to July 21 vs 2,445 last year and well above the 2008-2012 average of 2,400.

Harry’s River – The Didson Unit has counted 2,227 to July 21 vs 2,089 in 2012.

Northern Peninsula Rivers have continued to lag in returns for 2012. The Torrent has had 2,227 through its fishway to July 21, vs. 3,371 last year, and against the five-year average of 2,474.

ASF’s Don Ivany reports:

“Spoke to a number of anglers who informed me returns have been very low on River of Ponds, Portland Creek, and St. Genevive which is consistent with low returns on the Torrent River. All other rivers in western NL are very low and warm with poor fishing.”

Labrador

Forteau & Pinware – Both have had good runs of large Atlantic salmon recently, despite comparatively warm water and lower flows. Talk is of praying for rain. Mosquitoes doing very well indeed we hear.

Eagle River is apparently having a spectacular year, but as with most of the Labrador rivers, all the talk is of more rain. Pratt Falls is talking of an increase in angling by wading, due to the lower water levels. Recently the number of salmon being angled has dropped somewhat, but still good action.

Sand Hill – This is a river that is extremely volatile in numbers one year to the next. To July 21 this year it has had 1,427 grilse and 1,208 large salmon, with a total of 2,635. In 2012 it had 2,351 grilse and 626 large salmon, with a total of 2,977. Certainly the greater number of large salmon is a welcome difference this year.

English River – It would be interesting to know the story behind the very low numbers this year. A total of 8 grilse and 7 large salmon have been counted, as of July 21. Last year it was 107 small and 29 large salmon. Thus the river count is running at about 12% of last year.

Maine

Penobscot – The big news on this great river is of the breaching of the Veazie Dam on Monday. This is a major milestone for restoration of the Penobscot River and hundreds came out to watch from the Eddington side of the river. The machines demolishing the dam were the centre of attention as they pounded and ripped at the section of the dam closest to the western shore of the river. The Penobscot remains the last best chance to bring back healthy Atlantic salmon runs to the United States – an anchor river for the species.

Breaching the Veazie Dam on July 22, 2013

Breaching the Veazie Dam on July 22, 2013

People care about the Penobscot River - and its Atlantic salmon

People care about the Penobscot River – and its Atlantic salmon

The final number of Atlantic salmon returning to Veazie Dam was 372, and then the fish ladder was shut down for the final time as the dam and fishway demolition accelerated. The notes from Maine DMR on the site: Veazie fishway was opened on Tuesday 30 April 2013 and closed on Sunday July 14 due to the Veazie Dam removal. Fish passage at the Veazie site is expected in about three weeks. We will be video monitoring the Milford fishway.

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