Continuing Good News on the Penobscot

In North America the Penobscot River salmon are among the earliest to return to their native river. Thus it is exciting to see the numbers continuing to climb, with 560 counted at Milford Dam fishlift on June 29.

Atlantic salmon at the Milford Dam on the Penobscot River, to June 29, 2015.

Atlantic salmon at the Milford Dam on the Penobscot River, to June 29, 2015.

With the water temperature still hovering at 69 to 70 F., and good flows of water, the conditions continue positive for Atlantic salmon returning to this most important of US Rivers. The look of the river is very different with the two lowermost dams gone, as indicated in the photo below.

Where Veazie Dam once stood a canoe breezes through a rapids. And where a canoe can be paddled downstream, an Atlantic salmon can easily swim upstream, towards spawning areas. Photo Penobscot River Restoration Trust.

Where Veazie Dam once stood a canoe breezes through a rapids. And where a canoe can be paddled downstream, an Atlantic salmon can easily swim upstream, towards spawning areas. Photo Penobscot River Restoration Trust.

Kennebec River – Seventeen large salmon and two grilse have been counted as of June 29, while the Saco has had two large salmon, and the Narraguagus a single large salmon, all by June 29.

New Brunswick

Restigouche Watershed

ASF’s Nathan Wilbur has been out on the Restigouche and nearby rivers for much of the past week. He notes:

Overall, the fishing has been excellent and anglers are seeing a good number of fish moving upstream. By all accounts, the run has been stronger than last year and some camps have landed two or three times the number of salmon this year for the month of June compared to June of 2014. Last year there seemed to be an underlying theme of “microgrilse” throughout NB; this year so far there has been an underlying theme of particularly large salmon and large males.

Camp employees and guests are excited about the improved runs over last year, and are certainly enjoying the better fishing. I got a sense that people were expecting to hook a salmon when they went fishing, rather than wondering if they would even see a salmon, which was the case at times in 2014.

Kedgwick Lodge (Restigouche River) – Danny Bird reported that some large salmon over 30 lbs and even over 40 lbs were being hooked and fishing conditions were good. He suggested the next few weeks will tell us if the returns are strong, as the July run makes its way upriver.

Nathan Wilbur with a fresh Atlantic salmon on the Kedgwick June 26.

Nathan Wilbur with a fresh Atlantic salmon on the Kedgwick June 26.

Larry’s Gulch (Restigouche River) – Anglers at the province’s lodge were seeing many salmon but having a difficult time hooking up. They reported that the fish were on the move, occasionally showing themselves. Despite low hookups compared to the number of salmon seen, catch statistics showed an improvement over last year for June. Fishing conditions were ideal, with the water cold, clear, and at a good level.

Kedgwick Salmon Club (Kedgwick River) – Anglers have been enjoying good fishing conditions and the catch for the month of June was 68 salmon compared to 52 in June last year, a 31% improvement.

Kedgwick River

Kedgwick River on June 27, 2015. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Glen Eden (Restigouche River) – The camp was hosting several media crews and outdoor writers. They were excited to experience and capture on film the very best wild scenery that New Brunswick has to offer. The camp’s guides reported that fishing to date has been substantially better than last year.

A nice underwater view of a 17 lb. salmon being released by William Pierce this week. It is great to see such healthy salmon. Photo: William Pierce

A nice underwater view of a 17 lb. salmon being released this week. It is great to see such healthy salmon. Photo: William Pierce

Mill Brook Camp (Upsalquitch River) – Guide Bill Murray reported that the camp’s guests have released 31 fish in June, 24 salmon and 7 grilse. This is compared to 10 fish in the month of June last year. Bill is enjoying an impressive 49th season as a guide on the Upsalquitch River. They are seeing larger fish than normal this year, with several over 20 lbs released, whereas typically they would only see one fish over 20 lbs every second or third year.

Release- Kedgwick

Ben Wallace releases a healthy grilse on the Kedgwick June 28th. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Miramichi –

Angling reports from individuals and camps are now very positive. In addition to the many comments about large salmon, this week there are more grilse moving into the rivers and upstream.

Casting - Dungarvon

Andy Miller casting in the morning mist on June 22, 2015 on the Dungarvon. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

As of June 28, the counting fence at Dungarvon has seen 26 large salmon vs. 14 in 2014, a substantial increase. However, for grilse, there have been to this point only 8 grilse, vs. 15 in 2014. During the week water temperatures remained cool, generally at 14 or 15 C., and water levels excellent for angling.

Dungarvon Salmon Count to June 28.

Dungarvon Salmon Count to June 28.

On the Northwest Miramichi, the barrier has counted 14 large salmon as of June 28, compared with 9 in 2014, and 3 grilse vs. 2 in 2014.

Stephanie Elson releases a salmon in one of the pools fished by Upper Oxbow Adventures. Photo submitted by Upper Oxbox Adventures.

Stephanie Elson releases a salmon in one of the pools fished by Upper Oxbow Adventures. Photo submitted by Upper Oxbox Adventures.

Debbie Norton, of Upper Oxbow Adventures notes that enough salmon are showing up to make her cautiously optimistic for the season. She also notes that river conditions are good, including cool temperatures, and river height is good for angling.

In general there as an excitement about the returns this year, and undoubtedly a measure of relief. Some camps have mentioned they have angled more salmon so far this year than in the entire season of 2014.

Brock Curtis from Blackville notes:

“The talk we are getting at the tackle shop is most anglers are catching salmon. They seem to feel there are many more salmon this year.

One of the guys said he has hooked and released 13 salmon and grilse so far this season, and claims it is one of the best seasons he has had in years. Another sportsman from upriver said we could use rain to bring the river up. He is staying in the Boisetown area and is hooking at least one a day.

Quite a few anglers were through the tackle shop this past weekend and they all seem to be enjoying the fishing. There are more anglers on the river and so we always get more stories of river conditions. The word so far is all the rivers here seem to have salmon in them and they are seeing them jumping and moving upstream.”

Mouth of the Renous River on June 23. Photo Nathan Wilbur.

Mouth of the Renous River on June 23. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Saint John River – The first count is in and the news is not good. DFO is reporting that as of June 30 there have been ZERO large salmon and ZERO grilse reaching the Mactaquac Dam, which is even worse than the critically low 2014 year that had 6 large salmon and 3 grilse by the same date. The average return by the same date in the 1997-2001 period was 429 large salmon and 454 grilse. The run is in truly serious jeopardy.

Nashwaak – The counting fence is reporting 4 large salmon and 1 grilse to June 30, vs. 5 large salmon and 2 grilse in 2014. The 5-year average 1997 to 2001 was 23 large salmon and 25 grilse.

Nova Scotia

LaHave – The Morgan Falls Fishway has been having a much better year in 2015, at least to June 30. There have been 84 grilse and 13 large salmon, compared with 27 grilse and 16 large salmon in 2014 to the same date. This has principally been a grilse river, at least back through the 1990s, so the numbers are certainly positive.

Sackvile River – The total of 11 grilse (and zero large salmon) by June 30 is something of an improvement over the 5 grilse and 1 large salmon in 2014.

Margaree River – Several angling reports have mentioned that in the past week increasing numbers of Atlantic salmon have entered the Margaree River. Some have said the run appeared to be about a week late in 2015.

Greg Lovely both lives near the river, and angles regularly. His notes for the week:

The last few weeks have provided some good angling. While there are now salmon in the Northeast Branch, predominantly they are, at the moment, found from the Forks down, which really crowds the lower part of the river.

Predominantly they are larger salmon, and some of the hens are absolutely beautiful – healthy and hopefully will stay that way through the summer and fall.

We do need rain in the Northeast Branch. But the water has remained cold, which is great for the fish.

Margaree River valley in autumn. Photo Greg Lovely.

Margaree River valley in autumn. Photo Greg Lovely.

Quebec

In general, water levels have been dropping improving the river conditions for salmon angling.

Comparisons with the past are always worthwhile, and this Rivernotes looks particularly at the recent history of the salmon angling through the past few years.

York River – Change may be somewhat slow, but Quebec is taking conservation more seriously. One action is to take counts earlier in the season to determine the health of the runs. In the case of the York, a decision was made to institute a regulation of live release only from Monday, July 6.

Matapedia River

To June 30, 2015: 185 fish have been reported landed (including 7 releases)
To June 30, 2014: 225 fish have been reported landed (including 37 released)
To June 30, 2013: 371 fish were reported landed (including 35 released)
To June 30, 2012: 222 fish were reported landed (including 23 released)
To June 30, 2011: 559 fish were reported landed (including 63 released)
The five year average of reported catches to June 30 = 312 fish landed

Causapscal River – season begins on May 15

To June 30, 2015: 123 fish have been reported landed (including 4 releases)
To June 30, 2014: 133 fish have been reported landed (including 7 released)
To June 30, 2013: 141 fish were reported landed (including 18 released)
To June 30, 2012: 101 fish were reported landed (including 15 released)
To June 30, 2011: 130 fish were reported landed (including 8 released)
The five year average based on reported catches to June 30 = 125 fish landed

Bonaventure River

To June 30, 2015: 192 salmon have been reported released and 27 grilse killed
To June 30, 2014: 45 salmon have been reported released and 11 grilse killed
To June 30, 2013: 337 salmon were reported released and 28 grilse killed
To June 30, 2012: 209 salmon were reported released and 68 grilse killed
To June 30, 2011: 359 salmon were reported released and 97 grilse killed
The five year average to June 30 based on reported catches =   274 fish landed

Live release the way it should be. A beautiful salmon sent on its way in a Gaspé river by a guest at Salmon Lodge.

Live release the way it should be. A beautiful salmon sent on its way in a Gaspé river by a guest at Salmon Lodge.

Matane – Season begins on June 15

To June 30 2015: 184 salmon and 12 grilse counted – 36 salmon released and 5 grilse reported landed
To June 30 2014:  103 salmon and 0 grilse counted – 5 salmon have been reported landed
To June 30 2013: 291 salmon and 4 grilse had been counted –   45 salmon and 4 grilse had been reported landed
To June 30 2012: 406 salmon and 69 grilse had been counted – 58 salmon and 17 grilse had been reported landed
To June 30 2011: 340 salmon and 35 grilse had been counted – 31 salmon and 7 grilse had been reported landed
The 5 year average migration to June 30 based on counted fish: 288

The 5 year average to June 30 based on reported catches: 41 fish

Charles Cusson notes:

The peak time for the Matane migration usually starts during the last 2 weeks of July.  The SOGERM has modified its management practice, a decision to harvest fish or not will be taken only if a “harvestable” surplus has been reached later on the season.

Mitis – Season begins on July 1

To June 30, 2015: 168 fish have been counted (88 salmon and 80 grilse)
To June 30, 2014: 60 fish have been counted (43 salmon and 17 grilse)
To June 30, 2013:  236 fish had been counted (205 salmon and 31 grilse)
To June 30, 2012:  261 fish had been counted (201 salmon and 60 grilse)
To June 30, 2011:  363 fish had been counted (247 salmon and 116 grilse)
The 5 year average migration to June 30, based on counted fish = 217

Rimouski River – Season opened on June 15

To June 30,, the APSSRR reports 9 salmon have migrated through the counting facility.  To date, 23 fish have been landed including 17 releases.
To June 30, 2014, 17 salmon had been counted and 10 salmon were reported landed and released.

Aux Rochers River

To June 28, the Association de protection de la rivière aux Rochers are reporting a total of 64 fish landed (61 salmon released, 1 grilse released and 2 grilse killed.  To date, 10 fish have migrated through the counting facility.
At June 28 2014, a total of 28 fish had been landed (27 salmon and 1 grilse released).  16 fish had migrated though.

Moisie River

APRM managed sectors are reporting 87 salmon have been landed including 27 released since opening day May 25.

ASF (Canada) Vice Chair Charles Langlois reports that angling at the Moisie Nipissis Camp has been generally good and has improved quite a bit since June 28, they are observing many new fish at the 13 mile pool, water levels are very good right now.
More rain is on the way, should make for continued good angling conditions until mid-July.

Godbout River

Manager of the Cap-Nord Camp, Elaine Ouellet is reporting to June 28, 94 fish have been landed on the river since June 1 (72 salmon released, 8 grilse released and 10 grilse killed)

To the same date last year, 72 fish had been landed on the river (68 salmon released, 3 grilse released and 1 grilse killed).

 Newfoundland and Labrador

Exploits – As of July 2, there were 1,548 counted at the trap, compared with 1,606 to the same date in 2014. Fred Parsons suspects the run is somewhat late this year, but also notes there have been more large salmon in 2015.

“There have been quite a number of 15 lb. and 16 lb. salmon and some have exceeded 20 lb.”

While DFO has not updated the counting fence page since June 21, accounts continue to find greater number of large salmon, overall.

Near the top of the Northern Peninsula, Tuckamore Lodge was reporting that local anglers were finding Atlantic salmon in the rivers south of St. Anthony.

On the Humber River, ASF’s Don Ivany reported some activity at Big Falls, which has attracted anglers there.

Below Big Falls on the Humber River, anglers wading and afloat wait patiently. Some of the salmon were seen jumping the falls. Photo ASF/Don Ivany

Below Big Falls on the Humber River, anglers wading and afloat wait patiently. Some of the salmon were seen jumping the falls. Photo ASF/Don Ivany

 Eagle River, Labrador – Pratt Falls was reporting the first salmon of the season this past week. They also note the salmon appear to be a little late this year.

Gabriel Cavallaro of Rifflin Hitch Lodge noted:

“The water levels are about average, and the salmon showing up at the mouth of the Eagle River are about a week late. Overall, fishing conditions are certainly okay.”

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3 Responses to Continuing Good News on the Penobscot

  1. Ed Belak says:

    The Matapedia and the Causapscal Valleys should be the target of an intense educational and public relations effort by ASF to stop the killing of salmon and grilse there. To avoid doing so would be an abrogation of responsibility to protect salmon in the rivers where they need the most protection.

    • Ford B Draper says:

      Ed, Completely agree. The Quebec authorities, camp managers, club members, and visiting anglers should be ashamed at the kill ratio on these rivers. It is outright irresponsible and appalling. As we know, no fish should be being killed, let alone MSW salmon. Ford.

  2. Thomas Ciardelli says:

    It appears that those Quebecois who fish the Matapedia and Causapscal practice their own brand of fisheries management. When the runs appear endangered just kill more fish. I once read that in response to being questioned as to why he had taken more than his limit, an old poacher replied “why should I stop, there are more out there”. This appears to be the mentality of many in Quebec. Maybe all the fish killers are being funneled to the few rivers where they can still kill salmon. If there is a hell, may they all be condemned to fish barren waters.

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