When Photographs Tell the Story

Returning a powerful fish to the river, to go on and spawn. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Returning a powerful fish to the river, to go on and spawn. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

From time to time special photographs can bring a river experience to life, and for some of us the image above succeeds. The water rippling, the sun glinting off the salmon, the beauty of the scale patterns and beauty of the day itself all play a part in allowing this image to tell the tale.

It is all about connections such as these. This fish that can jump waterfalls 3.5m/11ft high, and that can successfully navigate thousands of kilometres at sea, in order to return to the same stretch of stream where they were born, and that is capable of bursts of speed of 20kph or more – this is an animal we should be proud to share the planet with.

Notes from the Rivers

Quebec

Good numbers are overshadowed by two tragedies, one on the Sainte-Anne reminding us all to be aware of changing river conditions, the other that working to restore Atlantic salmon runs, such as on the Nipissis, can suddenly result in life-threatening events. In both cases ASF staff’s thoughts are with the families of those involved.

Sainte-Anne at normal flow. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF

Sainte-Anne at normal flow. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF

Sainte-Anne River – Extreme water level change and flow takes the life of a local angler. Recovery operations are still on-going, but details of the event are few, except that it happened near the Castor Pool.

On August 27, conditions changed in a very dangerous way following an extreme storm. At approximately 10 am the Sainte-Anne was flowing at 25 cubic meters be second. At 1:00 pm the flow had reached over 250 cubic meters per second.

The storm also severed route 299 at the 92km marker which resulted in a stop of vehicular traffic for 24 hours until repairs were performed. A similar event happened on December 14, 2010 when just about the same amount of flow changed the river over a period of 24 hours instead of 3 hours last week.

Flash flood on the Sainte-Anne proved deadly.

Flash flood on the Sainte-Anne proved deadly.

Nipissis
The fishway at McDonald’s Falls on the Nipissis has been earmarked for restoration. On the morning of Wed., Sept. 2 a Bell 206 helicopter was taking a team to examine the work needing to be undertaken at the fishway when something went wrong. Two on board died, with three others transported to hospital in Sept Iles. We will know more in the days and weeks ahead.

Cascapedia River
As we await the final numbers for the third month of the 2015 season, as of August 28, the Cascapedia Society is reporting 325 releases. In 2014, the total for August was 213 released fish. To August 22 2013, for the month, 274 salmon have been released and two grilse retained.

Madeleine River
To August 31 2015, a total of 1,307 fish (535 salmon and 772 grilse) had been counted, making this far better than 2014.
As of August 26 2014, a total of 544 fish (299 salmon and 245 grilse) had been counted.

Rimouski River
To August 31 for the season, 820 fish have been counted (171 salmon and 651 grilse).
In 2014 to August 26, a total of 284 fish (176 salmon and 108 grilse) had been counted.

To August 31 anglers have reported landing and releasing 94 salmon and harvesting 188 grilse for a total of 282.
Captures to August 26 2014 included 23 salmon released and 19 grilse retained for a total of 42.

Matane River
To August 31, 2,323 fish have been counted (1,038 salmon and 1,285 grilse)
For the season to August 25 2014, 1,228 fish had been counted (650 salmon and 578 grilse).

To August 31 for the season, 829 fish have been reported captured (161 salmon and 41 grilse released, 107 salmon and 520 grilse killed).
Reported captures to August 25 2014 totaled 223 (38 salmon and 185 grilse killed). 60 releases have been reported (50 salmon and 10 grilse).

Matapedia River

Matapedia - photo by Charles Cusson

Matapedia – photo by Charles Cusson

For the season as of August 31, 1,188 have been reported landed including 204 releases.
For the season at August 25 2014, 830 fish have been reported landed including 206 releases.
To date, river conditions have not permitted the in-river count. Mandatory live release of large salmon was mandated as of August 5. Since then, 79 salmon have been released in addition to the 127 released prior to August 5.

Mitis River – 2011 record year numbers have been surpassed to August 31 2015
To August 30 for the season, 1,429 fish have been counted (451 salmon and 978 grilse).
At August 24 2014 for the season, 438 fish had been counted (252 salmon and 186 grilse).

Captures for the season at August 30 stand at 257 (48 salmon released and 257 grilse killed). Reported catches to August 24 2014 totaled 22 (12 salmon released, 5 salmon killed, 17 grilse killed).

2007 to 2014 total run data: as per the annual report published by the Quebec government
2007 680 fish (345 salmon and 335 grilse) 74 % of MSR
2008 1,409 fish (464 salmon and 945 grilse) 97 % of MSR
2009 1,014 fish (634 salmon and 380 grilse) 126 % of MSR
2010 832 fish (470 salmon and 362 grilse) 92 % of MSR
2011 1,306 fish (516 salmon and 790 grilse) 109 % of MSR
2012 980 fish (580 salmon and 400 grilse) 103 % of MSR
2013 1,098 fish (692 salmon and 406 grilse) 122 % of MSR
2014 529 fish (290 salmon and 239 grilse) 74% of MSR

Newfoundland

The season closes Sept. 7 on most salmon rivers, with the fall season continuing on the Humber, Exploits and Gander for another month, to Oct. 7.

In the centre of the province the temperatures were late in warming up, so now most are hoping for more rain and cooler temperatures to prevail.

Tolson Parsons, who usually fishes the Gander River noted earlier this week:

Fishing has slowed for the past week. Water is low and warm. Cooler air and rain today so that may help. Season closes for most rivers on Sept. 7 but fall season will continue on the Gander. Overall it was a good year after a slow start.

The counting fence data for Aug. 30 has been posted, and backs up the talk of 2015 being a better year.

Exploits – Bishops Falls has now counted 30,616, still ahead of last year’s 29,153.

Rattling Brook, just east of the Exploits, has had a good run this year apparently. Reports are that about 250 wild fish have come back. It is only about five years since the effort to restore the river started.

Campbelltown River – 4,504 to Aug. 30 is on a par with last year’s count of 4,522 to the same date. Perhaps there will be more in the cooler temperatures ahead.

Middle Brook – Solidly ahead with 3,729 this year vs. 3,099 in 2014 to the same date, and well above the 2010-2014 average of 2,778.

Terra Nova as well is doing well, with 5,132 vs 3,723 last year and significantly ahead of the 4,329 five-year average for 2010 to 2014.

Conne River is certainly better, with 2,400 counted, vs. 1,184 in 2014. But one needs to remember the pre-1991 average of 6,144 to realize this and other south coast rivers have problems.

Harry’s River is still tantalizingly close to 5,000, with 4,957, vs 3,755 in 2014. An angler this week connected with five salmon.

Lower Humber is still fishing well. One angler connected with about five fish in the past week.

Corner Brook Stream – So far there have been 84 salmon go through the fishway, and that is better than last year.

Northern Peninsula

Torrent River is doing well with 5,084 vs. 3,993 last year.

The Torrent River has an excellent viewing facility set into the side of the fishway, a short drive off the main highway.

The Torrent River has an excellent viewing facility set into the side of the fishway, a short drive off the main highway.

Western Arm Brook has 1,593, which is well ahead of 1,461 in 2014.

Even further up the Northern Peninsula, Barb Genge of Tuckamore Lodge remarked this week:

I have 4 fishermen here and the river is filled.  We went to one pool and the guide/fisherperson said that there were at least 400-500 salmon in the pool. Lots of salmon here.  He fished another pool yesterday and they hooked and released three fish and there was the same kind of condition in that pool…lots of salmon.”

Labrador

The season in Labrador has another couple of weeks to go, ending on Sept. 15. All indications are that extra rain and cool temperatures are making for some excellent conditions.

Generally reports have indicated a higher proportion of large salmon in 2015.

Gabe Cavallaro of Rifflin Hitch Lodge says this week:

“Above average water levels and temperature from days of rain have continued to make fishing conditions ideal. Into early September here we are still seeing an abundance of fresh silver and big fish.”

The counting fences are showing the levels at or above last year.

English River has 696 grilse and 252 large salmon totalling 948, compared with 807 grilse and 177 large salmon (totalling 984) in 2014.

Sand Hill River is definitely ahead this year, with 2,580 grilse and 1,093 large salmon, totalling 3,673, compared with 1,813 grilse and 585 large salmon (total 2,398) in 2014.

Muddy Bay Brook has had 551 grilse and 44 large salmon, totalling 595, far better than the 2014 return to same date of 152 grilse and 22 large salmon.

Paradise River has had 305 grilse and 58 large salmon, to total 363. In 2014 there were 182 grilse and 38 large salmon, for a total of 220 to same date.

Nova Scotia

Cheticamp River – the massive downpour that hit the Cheticamp area weekend before last caused all sorts of issues, rearranging salmon pools and trapping some salmon, as shown by the photo below of a salmon being rescued.

Staff from Cape Breton National Park worked alongside staff of the Cheticamp River Association to rescue stranded Atlantic salmon. Photo Jillian Baker/Cheticamp River Association.

Staff from Cape Breton Highlands National Park worked alongside staff of the Cheticamp River Association to rescue stranded Atlantic salmon. Photo Jillian Baker/Cheticamp River Association.

Margaree River –

Alex Breckenridge, the Tying Scotsman, notes:

Rivers been at a good level this week, it’s on it’s way up as I write. Not many fishing really. At the weekend only a handful on the lower river. Still hearing of steady catches; heard one angler had 4 at Big McDaniel on Saturday.

Greg Lovely says:

We just got some more rain….time will tell how much, or if, the river comes up. The last 4-5 days, have been good fishing. Still seeing fresh fish. However,I have not seen the big males yet. They should be here soon. Last year it was the end of August when fishermen started seeing them.The water is warming up again, so hopefully the nights start cooling off and make the salmon happier.

LaHave River – Morgan Falls Fishway staff are reporting 150 grilse and 17 large salmon, the same number as previously this year, but certainly well ahead of the 42 grilse and 21 large salmon to Aug. 31, 2014.

Sackville River – A total of 29 grilse and 2 large salmon to Aug. 31, compared with 7 grilse and 3 large salmon to the same date in 2014.

Prince Edward Island

As with most other regions nearby, PEI rivers could use some cooler temperatures and more rain.

West River, PEI, taken on Sept. 2, 2015. Lewis Hinks/ASF

West River, PEI, taken on Sept. 2, 2015. Lewis Hinks/ASF

New Brunswick

Miramichi – The big news is that the restrictions on angling have been lifted on all but three of the salmon pools. The three that remain are:

  • Confluence of Sutherland Brook and Northwest Miramichi River, including the waters of Sutherland Brook upstream to the Highway 420;
  • Waters of the Southwest Miramichi River in Quarryville, 300 m upstream and 300 m downstream of the Quarryville Bridge, including Indian Town Brook from its confluence with the Southwest Miramichi River, upstream to Highway 108 bridge;
  • Confluence of Wilson Brook and Southwest Miramichi River, including the waters of Wilson Brook 100 m upstream of its mouth, an area locally known as the Bear Den.

The water levels are low, and rain is definitely needed. Nights are getting chillier, and that is helping with the temperatures.

ASF’s Nathan Wilbur was on the river on Sept. 2.

This is Merlin's 58th year at Burnthill Brook. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

This is Merlin’s 58th year at Burnthill Brook. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

I had the opportunity to meet some veteran guides during a camp visit at Burnthill Brook in the upper reaches of the SW Miramichi this week. Merlin, camp caretaker and true river man, has been there a year or two, he admitted. I later found out this is his 58th year working at the camp. With such a history, I asked what his take was on this season and how it compared to seasons he’s experienced in the past. He said 2011 was good, it stacked up with the best of years at Burnthill. This year has been better than the last few but it’s been slow for the past month, picking up now with cooler temperatures. His wife, who helps Merlin run the kitchen, also mentioned it’s been slow and they’d like to see another run of fish come through. As Merlin set out to pole back across the bony section of river toward the camp, he mentioned he’s aiming for 60 years working at the camp.

Brock Curtis in Blackville notes:

Angling has been better here on the Miramichi. Cooler temperatures at night have made a difference. Now that all restrictions have been lifted we should be seeing more anglers coming through the Tackle Shop. A good rain is needed to raise the river and cool it down a little more. Everyone in the shop today has hooked fish. Fall fishing should be good.

Southwest Miramichi’s Dungarvon Barrier has only had one salmon counted in the week up to Aug. 30, so the numbers now stand at 154 grilse and 148 large salmon, vs. 72 grilse and 129 large salmon in 2014.

Dungarvon Barrier count to Aug. 30, 2015.

Dungarvon Barrier count to Aug. 30, 2015.

On the Northwest Miramichi the numbers at the Barrier are less exciting. Only two grilse were counted in the week up to Aug. 30, giving totals of 187 grilse and 64 large salmon, very slightly ahead of last year’s 138 grilse and 56 large salmon.

Are the salmon laying in pools further down the river? Too early to say exactly what is going on. Certainly the Trapnet numbers in the lower part of the river have been far higher.

Bay of Fundy Rivers

Magaguadavic – ASF monitors the fishway at St. George. As of Sept. 2 there have been 6 grilse, 2 large salmon and a total of 9 salmon farm escapees.  Thus salmon farm escapees outnumber wild salmon at this time, in 2015.

Saint-John River – Mactaquac is reporting 603 grilse and 88 large salmon to Aug. 31, vs. 126 grilse and 66 large salmon in 2014 to the same date. While these numbers are perhaps an eighth of those a couple of decades ago, it shows there is a run of salmon left, worth protecting for the future.

Nashwaak River – To Aug. 31 a total of 195 grilse and 30 large salmon, vs the 2014 count of 46 grilse and 15 large salmon to the same date.

Restigouche Watershed

David LeBlanc of the Restigouche River Management Committee says:

Most of the camps are “done fishing” for the year. The ones
that are still fishing report a few grilse here and there. Water is at its lowest level, but lucky we have cool nights resulting in the water being not too warm.

View of the Restigouche River looking downstream from the Matapedia Interprovincial Bridge showing that the river clearly needs more water! Taken Sept. 2. David LeBlanc

View of the Restigouche River looking downstream from the Matapedia Interprovincial Bridge showing that the river clearly needs more water! Taken Sept. 2. David LeBlanc

Danny Bird of Kedgwick Lodge noted early this week:

We’ve had some rain and the water is up about 3 inches this morning and the water temperature has dropped a bit. Fish are still being caught on both dries and wets.

The Upsalquitch Barrier is reporting that to Aug. 30 there have been 580 grilse and 155 large salmon, totalling 735. While 2014 data was not collected,the average for 2007 to 2011 was 562 grilse and 356 large salmon.

The Jacquet River Counting Fence numbers to Aug. 30 just came out today. The 2015 number remains at 57 grilse and 20 large salmon, vs. the 2014 count of 35 grilse and 44 large salmon.

Maine

Mitch Simpson, DMR Fisheries Biologist, notes the following:

As of today, September 2, we have caught 726 Atlantic salmon on the Penobscot River.  Since my last report, no Atlantic salmon have been observed in the Milford fishlift.  My last report reported the total salmon to date of 722, however, after completing the review of the video data from the denil fishway, 4 Atlantic salmon (3 grilse, and 1 MSW) were observed moving upstream through the Milford Project.  River temperatures remain high, but are dropping slightly due to several rain events and cool evenings.

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