Summer Heat Slows Activity

Overview of Quebec Angling in 2015

A very nice salmon being released by a Salmon Lodge guest in Gaspe.

A very nice salmon being released by a Salmon Lodge guest in Gaspe.

This year and last there has been a strong response to the kill figures showing for some Quebec rivers.

Charles Cusson, ASF Director of Quebec Programs, discusses some of the issues surrounding the topic.

How can Quebec be persuaded to increase its conservation commitment? In some ways it already is. Here are a few facts about what is happening now:

  • As of early July, 2015, there remain 11 out of 109 registered rivers in Quebec where a large salmon (>63 cms) can be harvested.
  • Special measures implemented by the MFFP (Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks) for the 2015 season are forcing counts on these rivers sooner in the season than would usually be done.
  • Data from an in-river count done on the York River in Gaspé late last month revealed a deficit in the number of large spawners to that date.  Consequently, live release of large salmon was implemented for the rest of the season as of July 6.
  • Of the remaining rivers data from counting facilities or in-river counts will be completed in the next week, conditions permitting.

New Plan

Looking towards the near future, the MFFP has announced a new Atlantic salmon management plan will be in effect for 2016 which should contain more accurate procedures on calculation of minimum spawning requirements, a reduction in the number of harvest tags, and likely an improved decision process in regards to harvesting of large salmon. These are just a few of the expected modifications.

According to the MFFP, the plan will be available to the FQSA, affiliates, ZECS and others for consultation and comment during autumn 2015.

Are Quebec’s existing rules of salmon retention better or worse than in other provinces?

For better and worse, here are the numbers of grilse and large salmon killed, and those released:

  • From the 2005 to 2014 angling seasons, the following numbers have been reported: 46,556 grilse harvested, 29,871 salmon harvested and 83,027 fish (salmon and grilse) released.
  • During that same period, the sale of Live Release license resulted in steady growth in both the resident and non-resident classification from 3,305 in 2005 to 4,142 last year.

Should the harvest be reduced further?  Certainly there are persuasive arguments related to success of the runs in total – issues such as multi-sea- winter salmon successfully returning to sea and then back to their rivers. Nevertheless, great progress has been made over the past 10 year period using the river by river management system.

In the interim, FQSA, our regional council in Quebec promotes wild Atlantic salmon conservation and has close relations with the government.

Are anglers becoming more conservation oriented?

Data results from a poll directed at a credible sample of salmon anglers that fish in the province of Quebec in 2014 revealed a major shift in thinking for the long term benefit of the resource.

The direction the Quebec government takes in regards to conservation should be guided by these results and will hopefully be reflected in the management plan.

Photo by Christopher Minkoff of female Atlantic salmon

Photo by Christopher Minkoff of female Atlantic salmon

Quebec Rivernotes

With all rivers in operation now and encouraging signs, we will get a more precise outlook for the rest of the season by next week.

Reminder for all anglers in Québec: Please register your releases. This data is very important in the calculation of the success rate of rivers, and the number of unreported releases is a concern for all river management groups.  The number of reported releases has risen considerably since 1997 when only a few hundred were registered in comparison to 6,512 in 2014.

Atlantic salmon release in Gaspe

Atlantic salmon release in Gaspe

Bonaventure River
Anglers have reported landing and releasing 238 salmon and harvested 69 grilse to July 7.
As of July 7, 2014 for the season, 78 salmon had been reported released and 44 grilse killed.

Last year the flow jumped considerably over that week-end thanks to Hurricane Arthur from 45 to 110 cubic meters per second during a period of 24 hours on July 5.

To the same date in 2013, 422 salmon had been reported released and 52 grilse killed.

Madeleine River
The Madeleine ZEC is reporting to July 7 that 215 fish have migrated through the underground fishway, 167 salmon and 48 grilse.

At July 7 2014 for the season, 70 fish (60 salmon and 10 grilse), had been counted.
The closest comparative for 2013 is as of July 11, 842 fish (755 salmon and 87 grilse) had migrated upstream.  At July 12 2012, 406 fish (344 salmon and 72 grilse), in 2011, 390 (331 salmon and 59 grilse).

Aux Rochers River
The Aux Rochers River association are reporting to July 6 that 64 fish have migrated to the counting facility, 52 salmon and 12 grilse.  Also to date, 140 fish have been landed, 113 salmon and 9 grilse released, 18 grilse harvested.

To July 7 2014, 70 fish ( 51 salmon and 19 grilse) had migrated to the trap for relocation up stream.   As of July 7 2014, 46 salmon and 1 grilse were released, 9 grilse have been retained for a total of 57 fish landed.

To July 11 2013, 333 fish had entered the counting facility and  a total of 149 fish had been landed (125 salmon released, 2 grilse released, 4 salmon retained and 18 retained grilse).

Matapedia River
CGRMP is reporting to July 8 that anglers have landed 360 fish including 26 releases. The reported numbers to the same date for the 2014 season were 301 fish landed (including 51 releases.  The total reported numbers to date in 2013 were 475 fish landed (including 50 releases).

Causapscal River
Anglers have landed 143 fish including 4 releases to July 8.

The reported numbers to date for the 2014 season were 142 fish landed (including 7 releases).  To date in 2013, 159 fish had been reported landed (including 20 releases).

Matane River
The SOGERM reports 631 fish counted to July 8, 494 salmon and 137 grilse.  Also to July 8, 91 fish have been landed.  This includes 69 salmon and 4 grilse released, 22 grilse harvested.

As of July 7 2014, 149 fish (144 salmon and 5 grilse) had migrated through the counting facility.  To date in 2014, 8 salmon have been reported landed.

To that date in 2013, 467 fish (439 salmon and 28 grilse) had migrated though the counting facility and to date 99 fish (86 salmon and 13 grilse) had been reported landed.

Cascapedia River
Darlene Sexton, manager of the Cascapedia Society reports very encouraging  numbers for the first quarter of the 2015 season with comparatives going back to 2011.
To June 30 2015, 705 (702 salmon and 3 grilse) were landed and released.
To June 30 2014, 485 (475 salmon and 10 grilse) were landed and released.
To June 30 2013, 763 (752 salmon and 11 grilse) were landed and released.
To June 30 2012, 555 (548 salmon and 5 grilse) were landed and released plus 2 grilse were retained.
To June 30 2011, 998 (953 salmon and 41 grilse) were landed and released plus 4 grilse retained.

Mitis River
As of July 9, the Mitis River Zec reports 271 salmon and 207 grilse for a total of 478 have migrated through the counting facility.  To date, 19 fish have been reported landed (12 salmon released and 7 grilse harvested).

At the same date in 2014, 78 salmon and 35 grilse for a total of 113 fish had migrated through.

This season’s data is very encouraging when we consider the total run for this river in 2014 was 529 fish (290 salmon and 239 grilse)

George River, Ungava – Unlike most rivers in Quebec, the level has risen quickly in the past few days. see chart below. If you are an angler on the George River we would very much like to hear from you.

Water levels on the George River have been rising quickly this week.

Water levels on the George River have been rising quickly this week.

New Brunswick

Water Levels have dropped and the angling has become more challenging on the SW Miramichi. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Water Levels have dropped and the angling has become more challenging on the SW Miramichi. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Miramichi – Nathan Wilbur, ASF Director of NB Programs notes:

Summer has hit on New Brunswick rivers and the water levels have dropped. Fishing on the SW and NW Miramichi systems has slowed from the previous week due to poor water conditions. However, fishing was decent over the weekend before the water dropped and warmed too much. At least 1 or 2 angling parties at Wilson’s Sporting Camps in McNamee on the SW Miramichi saw or hooked fish most sessions, but conditions deteriorated over the weekend and salmon seemed to stop being interested in a fly. Reports from downriver, below the mouth of the Cains were very encouraging, with good numbers of fish waiting for the right water conditions to move upriver. We now need rain.

A Great 4 July - Julia Carpenter releases a salmon on the Southwest Miramichi. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

A Great 4 July – Julia Carpenter releases a salmon on the Southwest Miramichi. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

The MSA Salmon Classic took place from July 5-8, an event that draws people from near and far to enjoy the variety of fishing that the Miramichi River watershed has to offer. Fishing was tough, as water levels continuously dropped and water temperatures warmed to the mid 70s (F) throughout the days. Reports from around the rivers were that fish were starting to move to cold water areas, or at least staying nearby to cold water sources. However, the drive to migrate upriver was still evident – I witnessed three large salmon swimming upriver over a bar with their backs out of the water. With fish still coming into the river under these poor conditions, anglers are hopeful activity will increase greatly when we get some rain.

At the end of last week DFO posted the numbers for the trapnets, and the numbers are definitely better than last year, although it is clear that numbers of grilse are particularly depressed again.

Dungarvon Counting Fence – The returns remain low. To July 5 there have been 26 grilse and 39 large salmon, compared to 40 grilse and 39 large salmon in 2014.

Millerton Trap Net – 56 grilse and 78 large salmon to June 30, 2015 compared with 49 grilse and 31 large salmon last year. The five-year average 2007-2011 was 151 grilse and 49 grilse. It is far too early in the season to make any long term predictions. Certainly the Millerton numbers are better than those at Dungarvon.

Millerton Trapnet on the Southwest Miramichi, showing LARGE SALMON numbers to June 30.

Millerton Trapnet on the Southwest Miramichi, showing LARGE SALMON numbers to June 30.

Northwest Miramichi – Cassilis Trap Net – There were 64 grilse and 33 large salmon counted to June 30, compared with 29 grilse and 11 large salmon to the same date in 2014. The five-year average 2007-2011 was 206 grilse and 36 large salmon. Overall, numbers are better at the trapnet, but still low. Numbers were less promising at the Northwest Barrier, below.

Northwest Barrier – There were 15 grilse and 20 large salmon to July 5, compared with 48 grilse and 35 large salmon in 2014 to the same date. Given that last year’s numbers were so low, this does not bode well for the year.

Restigouche Area

David LeBlanc of the Restigouche River Watershed Council notes:

“The Restigouche area is doing 25% to 30% better this year over last. But with the new requirement to use single, barbless hooks, guests in the camps are losing about 20% of the salmon they connect with.

“Now the water is getting low, but temperatures are still low.”

David LeBlanc noted some of the programs the Council is involved in this year, including bank restoration along the Little Main Restigouche, maintenance of Crown Reserves, and they begin electrofishing assessments next week. In between those projects, they operate boating and safety programs along the Restigouche as well.

Larry’s Gulch – Arnold Vautour is reporting that the fishing has slowed. But for the month of June Larry’s Gulch was reporting a total of 37 large salmon and grilse for the month of June 2015, compared with 27 for the same month in 2014.

Kedgwick – Danny Bird reports from Kedgwick Salmon Lodge that while the water had been lower:

“Water is up after yesterday’s rain. Guests are catching fish on a regular basis.”

Nova Scotia

Margaree – The water level is dropping, but decent numbers of fish throughout the Margaree system. Unfortunately they are not “taking”, according to Greg Lovely.

Alex Breckenridge, who has a fly shop called “The Tying Scotsman” near Margaree Forks, also notes there are fish to be seen but water levels need to come up.

Cheticamp – The water is low, but there are good numbers of salmon in the river

North – Anecdotal information is saying there are good numbers of fish in the North, with high numbers of grilse in particular, according to Lewis Hinks.

LaHave – Morgan Falls Fishway is continuing to report significantly better numbers this year. On July 8, the counting facility had 111 grilse and 14 large salmon. We do not have an exact comparison from 2014, but last year to June 30 it had 27 grilse and 16 large salmon. Thus grilse numbers running about 400% above last year’s, but still below the 5-year average 2007-2011 of 190 grilse and 50 large salmon.

Newfoundland

Returns to July 5 have been posted by DFO and in a number of rivers the returns are lower this year.

Exploits – There were 3,976 grilse and large salmon to July 5, compared with 4,800 in 2014 and a five-year average between 2010-2014 of 12,509. In some recent years the Exploits has had the highest returns of Atlantic salmon in North America, but likely this will not be so in 2015.

Campbellton River – 799 to July 5, compared with 1,421 in 2014 and the 2010-2014 five-year average of 2,214.

Terra Nova River – 242 to July 5, compared with 413 in 2014 and the 2010-2014 average of 707.

Garnish – This new river counting facility checking for salmon farm escapees had 302 to July 5.

West Coast Rivers appear to be having mixed results this year.

Harry’s River – The return is up, with 2,426 vs 2,025 in 2014. The five-year average 2010-2014 is 1,855.

Western Arm Brook – This river had been doing very well in recent years, but in 2015 there have only been 23 counted, compared with 168 in 2014, and the 2010-2014 average of 275.

Torrent – 35 to July 5, compared with 15 last year and the 2010-2014 average of 275.

Watching the Atlantic salmon in the Torrent River Fishway and Interpretive Centre. Well worth a visit.

Watching the Atlantic salmon in the Torrent River Fishway and Interpretive Centre. Well worth a visit.

Don Ivany, ASF’s Director of Newfoundland & Labrador Programs, notes there have been nice salmon in the Lomond River, but they are hard to catch. Part of the reason may be the rising temperatures.

Don Ivany also asks that if anyone sees seiners operating close to the mouth of River of Ponds, to contact him. There are concerns that Atlantic salmon could be picked up as bycatch.

For many of these rivers, it could be that salmon are delayed, but that remains uncertain.

Labrador

In general, most are saying the Atlantic salmon have been about a week late this year.

Muddy Bay Brook – To July 5 there have been only 1 grilse and 2 large salmon compared with 40 grilse and 3 large salmon to the same date in 2014. Counts over the next month should provide some insight.

Sand Hill River – To July 5 there were 65 grilse and 53 large salmon, totalling 118. This is below last year’s 52 grilse and 74 large salmon totalling 126.  It is far below the 2009 to 2014 five-year average of 423 grilse and 284 large salmon totalling 707.

Eagle River – Pratt Falls Lodge is reporting considerable numbers of salmon, almost all large salmon. On July 6 they were noting that guests had connected with 27, almost all large salmon. Earlier in the week there was talk of an angler connecting with a 25 lb. salmon.

Maine

Penobscot – Although water temperatures have passed 70 F., the Milford Fish lift has been counting 20 to 30 Atlantic salmon each day, and the July 6 total is 659, the best return since 2011’s spectacular 2,879 to this date. See details in the chart below for returns year by year.

Penobscot returns to July 6, 2015.

Penobscot returns to July 6, 2015.

The July 6 reporting of salmon returns in Maine shows how critical it is for the Penobscot to do well, as an "anchor" river for the species in Maine.

The July 6 reporting of salmon returns in Maine shows how critical it is for the Penobscot to do well, as an “anchor” river for the species in Maine.

 

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One Response to Summer Heat Slows Activity

  1. william Kent says:

    The kill numbers for the Matapedia are disgusting. How about ASF turning up the heat on the Quebec Government. Only laws with teeth will stop those selfish Quebecers from destroying this precious resource.
    It seems the truth that grilse are almost as precious as large salmon has not sunk in looking at what is killed on all the rivers. Again, ASF has a role to play in getting the word out and convincing the govt. to stop all killing of salmon.

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