Tantalizing Numbers for Returns in Most Regions

A beautiful release of a salmon. Photo Dan Greenberg.

A beautiful release of a salmon. Photo Dan Greenberg.

Late June is still too early to gain any solid hints on how returns are going to be in 2015. Still, there are signs that both large salmon and grilse are doing better than last year, which is a relief.

As in the past we have invited readers to share photos of rivers and live release images. Note that for the benefit of the Atlantic salmon, we ask anglers to keep the fish in the water, and we will only share images where the salmon are at least partly in the water.

Release on the York

Nice Atlantic salmon being released by Mathieu Côté with his daughter Virginie, June 14 on the York River. Photo Julien Côté

This particular edition of River Reports has more detail than most, thanks to the wealth of information gathered by ASF’s Regional Directors. With the results broken up by province, the information is quite accessible.

Quebec

Dan Greenberg releasing a nice salmon a few days ago on the Grande. Photo Jim Lawley

Dan Greenberg releasing a nice salmon a few days ago on the Grande. Photo Jim Lawley

Overall, angling is picking up along with anglers’ hopes. Fish have started to show themselves which is most likely due to river temperatures rising a bit. Water levels are good to very good, and all signs are positive leading up to the full moon on July 1.

Matapedia River (season opened June 1)
To June 23, 80 fish have been landed including 3 releases.  At the same date in 2014, 133 fish were landed (including 20 releases).  Water levels have been dropping since June 18, 85 cubic m/s to 58 cubic m/s on June 23 and rising.

Causapscal River (season opened May 15)
Water levels have been very good on the “Causap” since the first anglers started on May 22nd.  First fish landed this year was on May 26 in sector 1.  To June 23, 84 fish have been landed including 4 released.  To June 22, 2014, 118 fish had been landed (including 10 released).

At the same date in 2013, 115 fish had been landed (including 14 releases), first fish landed on May 22 2013.  In 2012 to date, 86 fish had been landed including 15 releases.

Cascapedia River (season opened June 1)
ASF Canada board members Jim Lawley and Dan Greenberg are reporting very good conditions and cooperative fish during this week.  Angling with Cascapedia Society guides, the first few days of the week were very productive with fish in the 12 to 37 lb range.  Visual inspection of the landed salmon revealed healthy specimens.

Lawley - Scowbogan - Cascapedia

Jim Lawley releases a large salmon at Scowbogan Pool on the Cascapedia. Photo Dan Greenberg

Darlene Sexton reports:

“What a difference a week makes!! We are up to 128 salmon as of last Thursday, June 18, 2015 on the river but lots were taken over the weekend. Anxious to see the numbers this Friday. There have been at least four salmon caught over 40 lbs so far on the river and several in the 30’s, and  all were released.  On June 23rd the “branches were on fire!” Nine fish were released with the Society guides.

Aux Rochers River (Live Release for the entire season, opened June 1)
To June 23, 38 fish had been landed which included 36 salmon and 1 grilse released.  At the same date in 2014, 15 fish had been reported landed (14 salmon released and 1 grilse killed).

Moisie River (opened May 25)
Ginette Pelletier of the APRM (Association de protection de la rivière Moisie) reports ideal water levels.   To June 23 70 fish have been landed including 25 released in all of the APRM sectors of the river.

Manager of the Moisie Salmon Club Yvan L’Étourneau reported better angling this season with many 25lb+ salmon being hooked.  On one particular day early this week, five anglers had some wild action hooking 18 fish for their efforts.   On June 23, the Moisie was flowing at 480 cubic meters per second and dropping, down from 630 cubic meters per second on June 18.

York – Dartmouth – Saint-Jean (Gaspé) – (opened May 25)
Since the beginning of the week, angling success has picked up considerably with many 2sw salmon being landed and released on all three rivers.

One new cause for celebration is that the Saint-Jean is flowing free of that massive log jam that had been chocking the lower section of the river for many years.  It will be interesting to get reports on whether the salmon stay for some time in this newly opened length of the river.

The York is mandatory live release until June 23rd.  The Dartmouth and Saint-Jean are also until the in-river count is undertaken in late July, conditions permitting.
The management group has adopted a different reporting system that does not give cumulative or comparative figures for the time being.

Matane – (opened June 15 and Live Release until count on July 31)
To June 23, 72 salmon have made their way through the counting facility and 16 salmon have been landed and released.   The SOGERM (Société de gestion de la rivière Matane) undertook a bold conservation initiative this year by implementing Live Release until July 31st of large salmon in order to make an informed decision in regards to harvesting.

To date in 2014, 83 fish had migrated through the counting infrastructure and angling had resulted in 5 fish landed and killed. On average, the bulk of the Matane run does not start to appear until mid to late July.

Bonaventure – (opened June 1)

Bill Taylor releases a large salmon on the Bonaventure River earlier this week.

Bill Taylor releases a large salmon on the Bonaventure River earlier this week.

To June 22, 66 fish have been landed and released compared to 33 at the same date in 2014. Mostly 2sw salmon are cooperating with the anglers to date with some 3sw salmon being observed.  June 18 was a great “silver day” with 16 salmon hooked and released on that single day.  One angler was heard to say “The Bonnie is on Fire!”

Sainte-Anne  (opened June 15)
To June 23, 13 salmon were reported landed and released.  At the same date last year 14 fish had been reported landed and released.

Rimouski River (opened June 15)
To June 22, three salmon had migrated through the counting facility and seven salmon have been angled and released. By the same date last year, 10 salmon and 1 grilse had gone through the fishway and 33 salmon had been reported released and 1 grilse killed.

Pourvoirie La Corneille
The salmon started to appear in the pools of the camp on June 11, and since then fish are being landed and released on a daily basis.  Water levels are very good.

Maine & New England

Penobscot

The returns of Atlantic salmon in 2015 are definitely good news in 2015. As of June 22 there had been 417 large salmon and 14 grilse pass through the Milford Fish Lift. This is exciting when compared to the return of only 68 large salmon and 6 grilse to the same date in 2014.

Interestingly, a new study has just been published that looked at all aspects of the mortality and movement of both returning salmon and smolt moving downstream. Naturally it included the Veazie Dam and Great Works Dam impacts.

In total, 35 per cent of returning salmon were unable to pass the Veazie Dam, and of those that did, another 33 per cent failed to pass Great Works. Together this meant a large number of salmon that survived at sea and returned were not able to reach good spawning areas. Of these salmon failing to pass above the dams, about 3 per cent died due to Veazie, and 2 per cent due to Great Works. But the other part of the tragedy is that a significant just went back to sea without spawning, and most of the rest found lesser spawning areas between Verona and Veazie. Removing these dams should start to make an impact.

salmon numbers Penobscot

Penobscot Returns of salmon to the Milford Fish Lift to June 22, 2015

Other Maine returns have been very low so far. The Kennebec has had 12 large salmon and 1 grilse by June 22, and the Saco River 1 large salmon. Others are still without returning salmon.

Merrimack – There have been 9 salmon at the Essex Dam in Lawrence, MA as of June. 15.

Connecticut River – 19 salmon returned by June 19, 2015. No figures available for the Connecticut and Merrimack in 2014 to the same date.

New Brunswick

In both the Miramichi and Restigouche systems the runs appear to be significantly improved over the 2014 returns. Nevertheless, several individuals have said they feel the salmon are returning perhaps a week later than last year.

Restigouche and Nearby Rivers – David LeBlanc of the Restigouche River Watershed Management Council notes that the salmon numbers have picked up in the past few days, but are still below last year’s returns to the same date.

Great fish on the Kedgwick! A guest of Kedgwick Lodge brought in a 40lb+ Atlantic salmon. Here it is being released by guide Tommy Larocque of Listuguj.

Great fish on the Kedgwick! A guest of Kedgwick Lodge brought in a 40lb+ Atlantic salmon. Here it is being released by guide Tommy Larocque of Listuguj.

Kedgwick – Kedgwick Lodge is reporting conditions are ideal right now. They are getting fish most every session now with the first 1SW fish yesterday and there are big fish around also. On June 22nd, they landed 6, hooked 4 more, with one around 45 lbs. All were released, respecting the regulations now in place in New Brunswick for conservation reasons.

Restigouche – At the Ristigouche Salmon Club things were really slow to start.  Last year things picked up on the 14th.  This year it picked up on the 20th.  To June 23, the Ristigouche Salmon Club is at 80 fish for three camps.  Last season, on this date we were at 125.  The guides have been seeing fish…lots of them traveling and not hanging around long enough to look at a fly.

Grog Island

Salmon angling at Grog Island on June 16. The Grog Island Camp was owned by newpspaperman and passionate angler Joseph Pulitzer II for much of the first half of the 20th century. Photo Sterling Keays

 Miramichi

While DFO has not reported on the Millerton and Cassilis Trapnet counts, unofficial reports note they are finding 5 to 7 salmon per day on most days, with an occasional day having only 1 or 2.

Northwest Miramichi – The NW Miramichi Barrier was reporting for June 21 no grilse, but 10 large salmon, a vast improvement over the total of just 2 large salmon to the same date in 2014.

Syd Matchett notes:

Most pools on NW near Wayerton are producing well and the crown reserve stretches starting to fish well. Water conditions are perfect.

Big Hole Fishing Camp (NW Miramichi at confluence with Big Sevogle River) – So far they’ve caught 3 salmon and 9 grilse. Fishing has been better than last year but not as good as 2013. Things just picked up over the last few days.

Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures is also noting they are finding a few salmon in her area, which also includes the Little Southwest Miramichi.

Southwest Miramichi – The DFO counting fence at Dungarvon was reporting for June 21 a total of 3 grilse and 15 large salmon, an improvement over the 2014 count of 3 grilse and 11 large salmon. Still early days, however.

Brock Curtis of Blackville was noting there were now salmon around, but not taking a fly well. He also noted there were quite a number “going through” on their way upstream; that they were later this year, and that the cooler river temperatures to this point were definitely a benefit to the salmon.

One angler near Blackville on Wed., June 24 noted that 3 or 4 salmon had shown during the day in this location, which was not in a pool. It indicates there are considerable numbers moving upstream.

At Rocky Brook Camp Mark Moir noted that the number of salmon had picked up, most in the 10 lb. to 12 lb. range, with four released in the Home Pool on Saturday. Water levels have been low but were coming up, and temperatures on the cool side.

Petitcodiac River – A sampling net has been in place for a few weeks, but no Atlantic salmon found so far. The area was deluged in the past week, and the net will need some repairs when the water levels recede sufficiently.

June 22 - Upstream looking down at the sampling net in the Petitcodiac

June 22 – Upstream looking down at the sampling net in the Petitcodiac

Magaguadavic River – The fishway is presently closed, and will be monitored as of next week.

Nova Scotia

 Cheticamp – Fishing has been good on the Cheticamp, with good numbers of Atlantic salmon being seen and played.

Aucoin on Cheticamp

Rene Aucoin angling on the Cheticamp River. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

Margaree – Salmon are being reported in greater numbers this year in the lower section of the river, and water levels are higher – much better for angling. Salmon are being seen in the Northeast Margaree.

Striped bass are being seen in large numbers in the Seal Pool on the Margaree. DFO is conducting a striped bass stomach content survey this summer, but it is only on certain days of the month when DFO staff can be onsite.

Here is a report from one of the guides on the river.

  • One angler…10 casts…10 stripers
  • One angler…..30 minutes …upwards of 20 fish
  • Regardless of retention and release regulations, anglers are frustrated and seeing these as a threat to salmon and are not being returned to the water….
  • One final piece of trivia was that one angler filleted out five stripers and found salmon parr and smolt in 3 of the fish. That’s 60%…

Prince Edward Island

Morell River – There are a large number of juvenile salmon being reported as well as one grilse. The sea trout run is going strong which is a good indicator of watershed health.

Newfoundland & Labrador

It is still too early for Labrador salmon, but on the island of Newfoundland the numbers are coming up nicely. DFO is very good in Newfoundland on posting river counts, but tends to be slow for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

 Southwest Newfoundland –

Overall the runs were a little slow to begin with, but salmon returns have definitely improved in the past 10 days.

Harry’s River – To June 21 there have been 500 counted with the Didson unit, well above the 2014 return of 367 for the same date and above the 2010 to 2014 5-year average.

Harry's River in western Newfoundland is known for having high numbers of large salmon. Photo Tom Moffatt/ASF

Harry’s River in western Newfoundland is known for having high numbers of large salmon. Photo Tom Moffatt/ASF

ASF’s Don Ivany notes:

Early reports from anglers who fished Harry’s River this past week indicate that things are picking up and they are enjoying reasonably good angling success. Because of the long wet cold spring, water levels and water temperatures on Harry’s River, like all other rivers in Southwestern Newfoundland, are currently excellent for angling.

Don Ivany also noted that both Codroy and Crabbe’s have improved in the last 10 days or so.

DIDSON Monitors in Trailer, near Harry's River

DIDSON Monitors in Trailer, near Harry’s River

Western Newfoundland –

Humber – High water levels have hampered early fishing efforts. Reports from early last week at Big Falls indicate that water levels were still on the high side (70 cubic meters per sec ) and as such only a few fish had been hooked. Heavy rain during the latter part of last week caused water levels to rise sharply to flood conditions (140 cubic meters per second), all but preventing any angling from occurring on the river. Water levels have since started to drop back, but are still high. The water temperature have begun to rise and are currently hovering around 16-18 degrees Celsius.

Northern Peninsula –

Fish appear to be late this year. Up to Wednesday of last week the only report of any fish was on Big East River, just above tidal waters. Heavy rain late last week caused water levels to rise but they have since dropped back and are now at perfect for fishing.

Don Ivany, who recently travelled south from the Strait of Belle Isle, notes:

All other rivers on the Northern Peninsula are extremely high and there have not been any reports of fish being angled. Nor has there been any fish through the counter on Torrent River. Water levels on these rivers are starting to drop back and we should expect to hear some reports in the next few days. Water levels were high on St. Genevieve River last week and the river was fishable but because it was still a little early there were no anglers fishing on this river. Again, we should expect to get some reports from this river in the next week or so, as water levels begin to recede.

St. Genevieve River below the bridge, showing the high water - July 20. Photo Don Ivany/ASF

St. Genevieve River below the bridge, showing the high water – July 20. Photo Don Ivany/ASF

Central Newfoundland –

Exploits – The massive run of the Exploits that has given it the greatest salmon runs in North America in some recent years, is just beginning. By June 21 there were 274 through the Bishops Falls counter, well above the 139 in 2014.

Don Ivany notes:

Anglers started hooking a few fish on the Lower Exploits River last week but fishing was spotty at the time. There was a report from Dennis Rose of one angler releasing a nice fish below Bishop Falls that measured 102 cm long!

Campbellton – As of June 21, there were 119 salmon counted, against 75 to the same date in 2014.

Don Ivany does inject a note of caution on the future of this river, perhaps related to the extremely warm water observed in mid-summer in the past few years:

It is worth mentioning that the smolt run on the Campbellton this year was about two thirds less than it was in 2014. This is very alarming and does not bode well for next year’s returns to this river.

Dave Vardy motoring through Dark Angle Pool on the Gander River in a Gander River boat in late July, 2013.

Dave Vardy motoring through Dark Angle Pool on the Gander River in a Gander River boat in late July, 2013.

Gander – Central Newfoundland did not have a lot of snow during the winter plus a dry spring. Thus water levels on the Gander River are about 55 cubic meters per second, well below the daily mean for this time of year.

Although the Gander is one of the major Atlantic salmon rivers of Canada, DFO will not have a counting facility on the river in 2015, having switched resources to the Garnish River in the southeast of the province in order to check for aquaculture escapees entering that river.

South Coast –

Conne – The count to June 21 has been very disappointing – 187 salmon vs. 462 in 2014 and far below the previous 5-year average of 902, and the average in the 1980s of 2,240. As a result, the Conne is closed to angling this year.

Garnish River – The concerns for the Conne relate to aquaculture, and now for the first time there is a NL counting facility in the salmon farm region. As of June 21, 107 salmon entered the Garnish counting trap. No word on whether any are salmon farm escapees.

East Coast –

There is little action yet, although the first salmon had passed through the barrier on the Northeast River (Placentia).

Below is a screenshot of the full June 21 set of Fishway Counts. Click to see at higher resolution.

Fishway Counts - NL - to June 21

Fishway Counts of Atlantic salmon in NL to June 21, 2015

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