We all make predictions on Atlantic salmon returns, whether it be for a particular fishing week, for the size of a run in a particular river, or in some other way. And let’s face it – generally those predictions are soon forgotten as fickle weather or salmon behaviour sends those predictions into the waste bin.
Nevertheless, there are predictions being made that this August could be unusually good for returns of Atlantic salmon over an extended range that includes rivers flowing into the Gulf of St. Lawrence in New Brunswick, plus the Gaspé, and perhaps elsewhere. Cooler temperatures and all the rain we have had in the past week or so has had an impact. On the Cascapedia, for example, there are “chrome-coloured” fish this week, just in from salt water. Here is hoping the promising conditions do bring the Atlantic salmon.
We also like to be reminded that on both sides of the Atlantic there are some huge Atlantic salmon migrating back to rivers. Below is an absolutely amazing Atlantic salmon – 44 lb., brought in and then released by Chris Buckley. Atlantic salmon like this bring a sense of awe, that such fish continue to thrive in our oceans and rivers.
NW Miramichi – Returns to Aug. 4 continue to be ahead of last year, with 192 large salmon against 117 to that date in 2012, and 133 grilse vs. 108 last year. Several significant rain events boosted water levels, and dropped temperatures this past week, and is certainly likely to improve the angling in the next week or two.
SW Miramichi – The Dungarvon Barrier returns to Aug. 4 continue to be significantly better this year, with 218 large salmon, more than double last year’s 102, and with 186 grilse vs. 126 last year. The water level’s reported by Wilson’s are abougt six inches above normal, and for August that could mean exceptional angling.
Restigouche – The water levels have come up from rather low levels. Todd Kennedy of the Restigouche Salmon Club says,
“Salmon counts are up nicely over last year, Grilse are pretty close to last year. Water level has come up over the last couple of weeks and is staying relatively cool (high 50s).”
Mark Ramsay at Larry’s Gulch notes,
“This morning it was 51 degrees, last night 58 degrees. Water rose yesterday by about 8 to 10 inches. Fishing is not bad with still large salmon out numbering grilse by about 60/40.”
There are still no DFO numbers available for the Upsalquitch for Aug. 1.
There are reports of Atlantic salmon fresh from their ocean journeys in many rivers throughout the region, leading to the optimism for the month ahead.
Looking back at July, we have statistics for the month over the past few years on several rivers.
Cascapedia – The graph of levels indicates the good news for August angling.
The July statistics below show that this year’s salmon returns have indicated a good month, and interestingly do better than the 2010 year that was quite good.
2013 914 landed including 111 released
2012 617 landed including 52 released
2011 1,570 landed including 211 released
2010 896 landed including 121 released
2009 663 landed including 97 released
2008 905 landed including 165 released
Matane – The number of returning large Atlantic salmon in 2013 shows a good July when compared with other recent years.
Like most other areas, water levels have risen significantly. Below is the latest graph for the Gander River.
Exploits – The returns to Aug. 4 are up, and the 2013 total is 32,265, significantly above that of last year’s 29,584.
Middle Brook – With 2,939 to Aug. 4, that is above 2012’s 2,583, and significantly improves on the 2008 to 2012 average of 2,160.
Harry’s River – Has had 2,946 on their Didson counter, vs. 2,246 in 2012 to the same date.
The Northern Peninsula Rivers continue to lag, with 2,827 at the Torrent River fishway vs 3,754 to Aug. 4 in 2012, and well behind the 4,061 average between 2008 and 2012. Meanwhile, water levels have improved for the fish.
Main River and nearby streams – Barb Genge of Tuckamore Lodge notes on Aug. 7,
“The salmon in our rivers were at least 2 weeks late but when they arrived the rivers were filled. We have high water levels now for the past 10 days so many salmon have gone through the river systems. We have been busy with fishermen and fisherwomen, it has been nice.”
Eagle River – Gudie Hutchings notes,
“Angling is great –seeing lots of healthy fish – hard to hook some days, but not surprisingly as it has been warm and waters still low. Air Temperature has cooled the last few days (thankfully as it was HOT ), and water is up 4 inches – I ‘d like to see it about 8 – 12 inches higher though for this time of year. All in all for conditions, fishing is wonderful.”
Counting facilities are indicating lower numbers this year on a number of rivers. However, the difficulty in Labrador is that a greater range of rivers need to be assessed. Given government cutbacks, this doesn’t seem likely in the near term.
Sand Hill – This river has seen 1,243 large salmon to Aug. 4, an improvement over last year’s 716, but grilse numbers are down, with 1,506 this year vs. 3,386 last year. As always, a reminder that the Sand Hill is a particularly volatile river with regards to total returns of Atlantic salmon.
English River – So far this has brought 70 large salmon vs 61 in 2012, and 148 grilse , which compares unfavourably with the 309 in 2012.
Muddy Bay Brook – 18 large salmon and 212 grilse in 2013 to Aug. 4, vs. 10 large salmon and 253 grilse in 2012 shows the same pattern of returns as other rivers with counting facilities in Labrador.
LaHave – The Morgan Falls fishway continues to have salmon and grilse returning. As of Aug. 6, there were 103 large salmon and 71 grilse. These numbers are close to four times the return last year, a highly positive turn of events.
Penobscot – The Veazie Dam removal continues, as shown by the view below, taken Aug. 1, 2013.