Low Water in Rivers & Research at Sea Carries On

Before getting to the river reports, a short update on ASF and related Research.

This week an ASF researcher is in northwest Newfoundland, working with an area fishing crew to deploy the acoustic receivers across the Strait of Belle Isle. It takes 22 of these receivers to cover the 11km/7mi corridor of water that connects the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the seas off Labrador.

Wave Glider

In addition, on June 19 the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) deployed their Wave Glider that will be able to pick up smolt movements as it traverses a series of routes off western Newfoundland.

You can follow the route of this ingenious wave powered robotic craft as it follows its routes from one GPS point to another. It derives its power from the waves, and transfers it to the craft below, which has the directional fins. This craft has a VEMCO VR2 sonic receiver aboard that will detect salmon within .5 km or more.
Click here to follow its travels

With the OTN having completed the Cabot Strait line of receivers between Newfoundland and Cape Breton, plus ASF’s Strait of Belle Isle line and now the Wave Glider, it is a promising year for data to help unravel more mysteries of Atlantic salmon migration and mortality at sea.

River Reports

Unfortunately this is turning into a challenging year for both returning Atlantic salmon and anglers, making it exceedingly important that every Atlantic salmon that can be sent onward to spawning grounds is released.


Extreme low water in the Gaspé, North Shore and Lower St-Lawrence plays havoc in comparing 2012 returns to those of 2011.  Fish are being spotted in estuaries waiting for levels to improve.

Bonaventure River – To June 19, flow was 20 cubic metres/sec. and 40 salmon had been landed and released, compared to 103 at same date last year.

Cascapedia – Water very low, with a few fish being caught. Need rain.

Matane River – To June 19, 119 fish (117 salmon, 2 grilse) had successfully migrated through the fishway.  Only a few captures to report, very early for the Matane. June 19 2012 flow was 11 cubic metres/sec.  compared to 33 cubic metres/sec. on that date last year.

Matapedia River – To June 19, 90 fish had been landed (includes 7 releases). To the same date in 2011, 173 were landed, including 27 releases. Flow on the Matapedia on June 19 was 27 cubic metres/sec. compared to 68 cubic metres/sec. a year ago.

Interesting economic spin off from last season’s great runs: to date in 2012, 1,178 rod days have been purchased.  To June 19 2011, 749 rod days had been purchased.

Causapscal River – Season started on May 15, with first fish landed on May 20th.  To June 19, 83 fish had been landed (including 15 releases). To the same date in 2011, 74 were landed (including 2 releases)

Sainte-Marguerite River – To June 18, 20 salmon had been landed and released, compared to 8 released in 2011. Flow on the Sainte-Marguerite June 19 2012 was 19 cubic metres/sec., compared with 38 cubic metres/sec. a year ago.

Sainte Anne River – Angling very slow, not many fish in the river….fish in the estuary waiting for higher levels. To June 19 flow at 8.5 cubic metres/sec. compared with 32 cubic metres/sec. in 2011.

Godbout River – To June 17th, 51 salmon were landed and released.  It seems low water conditions are producing good numbers on rivers that have natural obstacles, counting facilities or fishways in the lower stretches . Flow at  June 17 at 19 cubic metres/sec.  compared with 59 cubic metres/sec. in 2011

Moisie River – Lower reaches have only produced eight fish landed since June 1.  To June 19, very low water flows at 320 cubic metres/sec.  compared with 800 cubic metres/sec.  on June 19 2011.

But further upstream the Moisie Nipissis Camp is reporting very good angling due to the number of fish stalled at the mile 13.5 pool because of the levels.

Aux Rochers River – No run numbers as of yet due to problems with the counting facility.  The fish are stacking up in the lower pools delighting anglers.  Since June 1, 76 salmon have been released.  No grilse yet.

Nova Scotia

Gold River, NS near the ocean with low water - June 21, 2012

In a word, dry, with too little water. Atlantic salmon are hanging out in pools, and preferring cold springs wherever they occur. These same conditions apply throughout Nova Scotia.

Lewis Hinks, ASF’s Director of Nova Scotia Programs, passed along two photos this week to illustrate the low water – the first of Gold River, the second Middle River, near Chester, NS.

Middle River, NS - water levels are low









New Brunswick

All reports are of low water levels and temperatures in the rivers climbing to 21 C. Salmon are hanging out in the coolest pools they can find, and seeking out cool springs.

A recent returnee from the Sevogle River noted the low water levels, with no fish taking flies.

At the NW Miramichi River Barrier the numbers are actually better than last year for multi-year salmon. As of June 19 32 salmon had been counted, vs. 28 in 2011. However for grilse the numbers are low – 5 as of June 19, against 21 in 2011.

The Dungarvon Barrier has a very different story to tell. There have only been 10 large salmon this year to June 19, vs. 62 last year. And there had only been 10 grilse vs. 37 in 2011 to June 19.


Following the pattern for 2012, the returns at Veazie Dam have been low after the large returns we have come to expect in recent years. Only 536 have returned as of June 20, vs. 2,066 by the same date in 2011. See notes below.

Veazie Dam - Penobscot - June 20


Exploits – 1,531 to date, more than 1,000 ahead of the 385 in 2011. Even better, as of Thursday when this is being written, Fred Parsons says there will be more than 1,000 fish counted today alone. Tributaries are dry, but the Exploits itself has plenty of water, with cool temperatures.

In western Newfoundland conditions are dry, and warming up. More water needed.

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