ASF RIVERNOTES Reaches 100th Blog Post

After the rains - Bill Haley plays a salmon on the Margaree on Aug. 13, 2015. Photo Bill Haley

After the rains – Bill Haley plays a salmon on the Margaree on Aug. 13, 2015. Photo Bill Haley

ASF RIVERNOTES has reached its 100th blog post since coming into the internet world in 2011. In that time it has provided readers a holistic overview of the situation on the rivers and the return of wild Atlantic salmon to the rivers of North America, with occasional coverage of other areas.

If the 100 postings of Rivernotes were printed as a book, they would constitute some 550 pages – and that is before the many photographs are included.

The interesting part of the story is that all the information is still available to every reader. On the right side of the blog is a list by month of the posts, and a calendar lower down gives that dates on which the posts were made. Anyone interested in seeing what was happening around a certain date can check. There is no other place on the web that passionate salmon folks can do this.

There have been some interesting changes in the five years. As digital photography has taken over the visual image universe, and especially with better smartphone images and inexpensive quality underwater cameras, photographs are sent to us by readers almost every week. Keep them coming – we love to see your views, and in the past year, probably 95 per cent of images were taken within the two weeks previous to a post.

Increasingly it has been shown to be important to keep Atlantic salmon in the water when photos are taken, and ASF RIVERNOTES has kept pace by publishing in-the-water photos. Along the way, we have seen the level of expertise in releasing those salmon increasing.

ASF RIVERNOTES has provided myriad small feature items along the way, profiling personal stories and also alerting all readers to trends showing up on the rivers on which ASF would like information, such as the matter of seal bites a couple of years ago, and the matter of very small “microgrilse” that were found in so many rivers last year. The information you provided alerted scientists to the scope of the issue.

The information ASF RIVERNOTES provides is anchored by the best scientific sampling available – when it is available. When not, we offer the important anecdotal information that comes from anglers and outfitters. But most important, ASF RIVERNOTES is actually an efficient team effort of ASF’s Directors of Regional Programs who are out in the field, together with synthesis of the material taking place back at ASF’s main office. Like a “well-oiled machine” the ASF RIVERNOTES team has put together a resource unlike any other on the web – and we hope you enjoy the results.

On Aug. 3, Ben Carmichael releases a 35lb. Atlantic salmon on the Cascapedia River.

On Aug. 3, Ben Carmichael releases a 35lb. Atlantic salmon on the Cascapedia River.

Quebec

Charles Cusson, ASF Director of Quebec Programs notes:

Significant rain on the horizon for the Gaspé and Lower St-Lawrence regions. If what is forecast for this week happens, it will inject new oxygenated water maintaining very good angling conditions. Don’t look now but…some rivers are hovering close to the 2011 season numbers. What did Alice say? Things are getting curiouser and curiouser…

This week ASF is focusing attention on a number of the more remote Quebec rivers, down the lower St. Lawrence region, and including Anticosti Island.

Lower North Shore Region

Old Fort River
To August 6, a total of 705 fish had been counted on this prolific Lower St-Lawrence River which included 47 salmon and 658 grilse. For the season in 2014, the Old Fort seemed to have bucked the general Quebec trend of lower returns, recording a migration of 1,975 fish (78 salmon and 2,105 grilse).

Mecatina River – Norman Bobbitt is reporting:

“We are having a fantastic run. Most of our anglers since the beginning of July have released 3 salmon per day in addition to the much smaller numbers that were killed. We had a relatively good run last year but it was mainly grilse. This year, however, we have many large fish. In short a very encouraging run.”

Anticosti
Reports from long time Anticosti angler Claude Rochon of Quebec City are very encouraging. Over a period of five days from June 30 to July 4, his group of eight anglers landed 110 fish on the Jupiter River consisting of 90 grilse and 20 salmon. All large salmon were released and the vast portion of the grilse were released.

North Shore Region

Moisie River
From August 6 to 11, the rugged Moisie River has seen its flow drop from 800 cubic meters per second to 600. At this time in the season, angling is happening further upstream.

Aux Rochers River
To August 10, a total of 700 fish (411 salmon and 289 grilse) had been counted. To date, 312 fish had been landed including 148 salmon and 20 grilse released, 144 grilse killed.
The closest comparative date is July 14, 2014 when 115 fish had been counted. Anglers had reported landing 84 fish (51 salmon and 7 grilse released, 6 salmon and 22 grilse killed.

Lower St-Lawrence and Gaspésie Region

Matapedia River
At August 11, a total of 1,062 fish had been reported landed including 164 releases. A total of 43 salmon had been released since August 5 when mandatory live release for large salmon was implemented.

By comparison, to August 7 2014, a total of 675 fish had been reported landed including 112 releases. To the same date in 2013, 1,043 fish had been reported landed including 124 released.

Matane River

Fishway count: At August 11 2015, 1,945 fish (973 salmon and 972 grilse) had been counted, while in 2014, as of August 7 there were 823 fish (345 grilse and 478 salmon) counted entering the system.

For the season at August 11, angler results are as follows: 151 salmon and 34 grilse released, 344 grilse and 53 salmon killed for a total of 582.

At the same date in 2014, reported catches were as follows: 26 salmon released, 82 grilse and 38 salmon killed, for a total of 146.

In 2013 at the same date, 1,841 fish (484 grilse and 1,356 salmon) had been counted. The catches were reported to be 234 salmon killed and 147 grilse killed for a total of 381.

Mitis River

As of August 11 2015 the migration is as follows:  1,315 fish (442 salmon and 873 grilse). These migration numbers are approaching the 2011 record levels. For the 2015 season, it is mandatory to release all large salmon.

The 2014 migration for the season to August 7, 287 fish (174 salmon and 113 grilse).

To August 7 2013, the migration was made up of 943 fish (631 salmon and 312 grilse)

Madeleine River

To August 9th, there were 1,087 salmon counted (502 large salmon and 585 grilse).

To August 7 in 2014, 466 fish had been counted through the fish-way (269 salmon and 197 grilse).

Live release the way it should be, on a beautiful day on a Gaspe river this past week. Photo Salmon Lodge

Live release the way it should be, on a beautiful day on a Gaspe river this past week. Photo Salmon Lodge

Cascapedia River

Darlene Sexton reported with great pride

“Finally have all the numbers for July, at least I hope so. We have 1,054 salmon released on the Cascapedia for the month!! Amazing! Unfortunately 7 grilse were killed but that is not bad considering how many there were caught in the river – 133 grilse for July. Thanks to everyone involved and keep it up for August.”

The July 2015 numbers are ahead of the very prolific July 2011.

For the month of July in 2014, 548 fish had been landed and released.

Upper Reaches of the Cascapedia River, in early August this year. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF

Upper reaches of the Cascapedia River, in early August this year. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF

Newfoundland

Much of the island could use some rain except for the western side, where several rainstorms in the past few days have brought up river levels. Temperatures had been creeping up. On the Humber they reached 22 C about a week ago, but with the rain have dropped to 18 C, which is certainly better for the Atlantic salmon.

It is interesting to note that the temperatures have not reached the same level this year as they did in 2013 and 2014, and there have been no closures of rivers in Newfoundland.

The latest counting fence data is available, to Aug. 9.

Exploits – Finally the returns in 2015 are above 2014, with 28,852, vs. 27,595 to the same date in 2014.  But with two superb years in 2011 and 2010, the five-year-average for 2010 to 2014 is higher, at 34,605.

Campbelltown River – There are 4,492 this year, a considerable increase from the 2,645 to the same Aug. 9 date in 2014.

Middle Brook – 3,442 to Aug. 9, compared with 2,892 in 2014. It is interesting that this number compares very favourably with the overall 1992-2014 average of 1,750.

Terra Nova – Another river doing well, with 4,424 to Aug. 9. This is far above the 2,639 in 2014, and beats any of the five-year-averages.

Garnish River – This river on the Avalon is being checked for aquaculture escapees, but no word on those. There have been 613 salmon counted at the fence.

Conne River – There have been 2,353 counted, vs. 1,183 last year. Prior to 1984 the average return was 6,116, thus indicating something is impacting the returns.

Harry’s River – The river is closing fast on the magical 5,000 mark, with 4,955 to date. Last year there were 3,731 returning to this west coast, Stephenville-area river by Aug. 9.

Hughes Brook in western Newfoundland on Wednesday, Aug. 11. Photo Don Ivany/ASF

Hughes Brook in western Newfoundland on Wednesday, Aug. 11. Photo Don Ivany/ASF

Torrent River – Water levels remain low here. There have been 4,064 Atlantic salmon compared with 3,646 in 2014.

Western Arm Brook – While this has been a laggard in the returns for 2015, it is improving. There have been 1,218 returning, compared  with 1,439  to the same date in 2014. The 2010 to 2014 five-year-average is 1,242.

Labrador

English River – Returns remain lower with 415 grilse and 188 large salmon, totalling 603. This compares with 604 grilse and 120 large salmon, totalling 724, in 2014.

Sand Hill River – Numbers continue to improve, with 2,218 grilse and 958 large salmon, totalling 3,176. Note that the percentage of large salmon is higher than in any other year reported. In 2014 there were 1,803 grilse and 581 large salmon, totalling 2,384.

Muddy Bay Brook – With 288 grilse and 24 large salmon, totalling 312, there are more than double the return of 2014 that had 115 grilse and 18 large salmon, for a total of 133.

Paradise River – There are 195 grilse and 32 large salmon for a total of 227 to Aug. 9, compared with 167 grilse and 34 large salmon in 2014.

Forteau River – ASF’s Don Ivany notes:

“I spoke to Cecil Butt on Saturday and he tells me there is still a great sign of fish on the Forteau River with  fresh bright fish with sea lice still coming in.  He took a couple guests to Army Pool the evening before and they had great success and saw a number of large fish along with the many grilse in the pool.”

Nova Scotia

Margaree – The rain came in buckets, and with the small catchment area, it flooded, but much of it has already gone. But now the fishing conditions are close to excellent.

NW Branch Margaree - water levels to Aug. 13

NW Branch Margaree – water levels to Aug. 13

Greg Lovely wrote earlier in the week:

“Boy did we get rain!!! The gauge(hydrometric) went from measuring .45 meter to 1.7 meters and very dirty. The water is dropping nicely and clearing. I am just about to go out and give it a try. I’m confident this will improve things at least for a few days. More rain forecast for Wednesday and Thursday…oh boy!!!!”

Bill Haley sent photos of the flooding, and the river levels subsequently. Also note his photo at the beginning of the blog:

The massive rainfall flooded fields along the banks of the Margaree, but now the water levels are perfect  for salmon angling. Photo Bill Haley.

The massive rainfall flooded fields along the banks of the Margaree, but now the water levels are perfect for salmon angling. Photo Bill Haley.

LaHave – Morgan Falls Fishway is reporting that as of Aug. 8 they had 167 salmon in total, that included 150 grilse and 17 large salmon.

New Brunswick

The Bartibog River may be one of New Brunswick's lesser known salmon rivers, but is magical all the same. Photo Aug. 7 by Nathan Wilbur/ASF

The Bartibog River may be one of New Brunswick’s lesser known salmon rivers, but is magical all the same. Photo Aug. 7 by Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Miramichi –

Rivers and salmon are a deep part of our heritage, and many, like Greg Patterson, aim to keep it that way. He writes:

My family of 4 girls-ages 8-14, had a lovely trip to the Southwest Miramichi recently.  My little girl Sarah Paterson; age 11, hooked this bright grilse on a #8 green machine/white tail while wading, played it successfully, landed and released all on her own.

My other girls hooked a grilse on a Same Thing Murray and a grilse on a Brown Bomber/white tails and lost them both. Family time on the river, passing on the tradition of live release, and exposing children to New Brunswick’s most precious resource are all important.

Release of grilse by Sarah Patterson, 11, above Norrad’s bridge, Southwest Miramichi, on Saturday, Aug. 1. Photo Greg Patterson

Release of grilse by Sarah Patterson, 11, above Norrad’s bridge, Southwest Miramichi, on Saturday, Aug. 1. Photo Greg Patterson

Grilse especially appear to be continuing to move in and are travelling upstream. The Dungarvon Counting Fence. We now have 141 grilse and 143 large salmon, as of Aug. 9, compared with 64 grilse and 54 large salmon in 2014 to the same date. In total that is 143 this year and 54 last year.

A longer time frame provides perspective on the present levels however, ASF’s Geoff Giffin made the comparison to 2011, first year of the ASF RIVERNOTES Blog Posts:

“With the numbers being very much a topic of discussion in various circles, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the barrier counts from 2011 to see where we sit relative to that particular year which we all recognize as having been a very good year.  The spreadsheet also provides comparative data from 2010 as well.  So below I’ve assembled the counts for both barriers to roughly the same point in the season (to Aug 2 in 2015 and to July 31 in 2011).  As you look at this data keep in mind the following.

In 2011 – the SW Miramichi exceeded its CL.  I recall it being in the 250% range.  The NW Miramichi just scraped over the minimum CL at 108%, for about the second year in a dozen or so.  Part of this was attributed to a fairly strong grilse run and a relatively high proportion of female grilse in the NW run that year, according to information from the Native fishery.  Female component among grilse was 30-35%.

A comparison of returns of 2011 (to Aug. 2) and 2015 (to Aug. 9).

A comparison of returns of 2011 (to Aug. 2) and 2015 (to Aug. 9).

The Northwest Miramichi Barrier provides a similar lesson:

Northwest Miramichi Barrier - comparison of 2011 and 2015

Northwest Miramichi Barrier – comparison of 2011 and 2015

Back to 2015. There do appear to be signs of salmon holding in the deep pools at this time.

Brock Curtis of Blackville noted this a couple of days ago:

Anglers coming into the Tackle shop over the past couple of days are commenting on the large numbers of salmon they are seeing in the deep pools along the Miramichi, how low the water is and river temperatures creeping up again. Even with conditions being as they are they are still hooking into the odd salmon.

Everyone is commenting on the need for rain and our prayers were answered as a significant amount of rainfall came down last night and continues today. The early part of the week had a touch of fall in the air. This could mean cooler evenings and better angling conditions during the day. Everything is pointing towards more favorable conditions in the next couple of days. With this kind of rain it can change within hours. This is everything the doctor ordered.

Nepisiguit counting fence, photo taken about a week ago. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Nepisiguit counting fence, photo taken about a week ago. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Restigouche Region

Kedgwick – Danny Bird of Kedgwick Lodge says:

“Intermittent periods of rain have kept the water at good fishing height. Some MSW fish are being released along with a good number of 1sw fish (grilse). Most of 1sw fish appear to be in excellent condition, good weight and fresh run. Both dry fly and wet fly fishing have been productive.”

Upsalquitch

The counting fence notes significant numbers of grilse going through most days. The total as of Aug. 9 is 545 grilse and 150 large salmon, making a total of 695. Thirty-three of the grilse were counted in the week up to Aug. 9.

Arnold Vautour of Larry’s Gulch Lodge reported they had a 38lb salmon this week. The count for the week of Aug. 2 to 9 was 20 large salmon and 6 grilse. Total fish for the year so far is 190.

He also reported the numbers for July: 55 grilse and 55 large salmon. He noted the number was down somewhat from previous years. There were 69 salmon and 44 grilse caught and released in 2014 in July. He did note that some of the guests were still having problems adjusting to barbless hooks, and were losing them off the line. Also, the camp fished fewer days this year.

Restigouche

David LeBlanc of the Restigouche River Watershed Management Committee discussed the year to date:

“Fishing and water condition still good for most of the watershed’s northern rivers (Little Main and Kedgwick) which received more rain than the Upsalquitch river. Water condition for these rivers, and subsequently the Main Restigouche still good, with adequate levels and cool temperature. For the Upsalquitch, fishing slowed down because of low levels, but water still cool with cold nights recently, where temperature dropped as low as 9 degree C. The 512 grilse that reached the Northwest Upsalquitch 10 Mile Pool barrier to date confirm that 2015 is a really good run of grilse which is also confirmed in other rivers.”

Salmon lazing in the pool at the Jacquet River Counting Fence on Aug. 7.   Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Salmon lazing in the pool at the Jacquet River Counting Fence on Aug. 7. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

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One Response to ASF RIVERNOTES Reaches 100th Blog Post

  1. Kerry Taylor says:

    I caught a nice grilse on the Upper Margaree Sat Aug 15 . It was shiny . Water level was good . I caught it on the biggest fly in the box that my little brother told me to try. The fish was pointed out to me by my son in law who had raised it a few minutes earlier . As I was about to release it the hooked popped out. A happy fisherman . Kerry Taylor

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