Saving the Miramichi

This week’s ASF Rivernotes draws attention to an increasing number of reports of poaching on the Miramichi. It also highlights the wonderful stories that take place on our salmon rivers; stories that are part of our soul. Atlantic salmon conservation and restoration needs to have a priority at this time.

Layout 1New Brunswick Rivernotes

Miramichi –

Nathan Wilbur, ASF’s Director of New Brunswick Programs notes:

Last week’s great water conditions continued to produce good fishing on the Miramichi system, with a few reports of success on the lower part of the SW and on the Dungarvon.

Fish were on the move with the improved water level and cooler temperatures.

A report from one angler who had fished the NW Miramichi and Big Sevogle Rivers suggested fishing was quite slow in the pools he fished.

On the Dungarvon River on July 23,  Julia Carpenter with her first salmon and caught on the first fly she tied. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

On the Dungarvon River on July 23, Julia Carpenter with her first salmon and caught on the first fly she tied. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

There was a memorable outing for Julia Carpenter last Thursday evening on the Dungarvon when, after 4 years of salmon fishing, she finally hooked, landed and released her first Atlantic salmon. Better yet, she hooked it on the very first fly she tied. Good perseverance, Julia, and hopefully the seal has been broken.

Although numbers for the Cassilis and Millerton trap nets will not be released until next week at the earliest, there are encouraging numbers being assessed on some days, with the high being 138 one day for Cassilis.

The Millerton trap is showing somewhat lower numbers, but overall still has encouraging returns.

The Miramichi Salmon Association is also operating a trap net near the Chatham bridge this year, and there have been some banner days. The peak was on Tuesday, when 96 grilse and 43 large salmon, totaling 139, were noted. The fish are being tagged for the mark and recapture program of DFO.

Northwest Barrier – The count to July 26 has been 135 grilse and 55 large salmon, making a moderately positive comparison with the 2014 numbers to the same date of 103 grilse and 55 large salmon. Still, low numbers.

On July 26 the water was dropping on the Dungarvon River. Photo: Nathan Wilbur/ASF

On July 26 the water was dropping on the Dungarvon River. Photo: Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Dungarvon Barrier, Southwest Miramichi – The total of 106 grilse and 105 large salmon compares somewhat favourably to the 43 grilse and 42 large salmon counted to the same date in 2014. A continued sense of optimism is in order, but everyone needs to remember that any modest increase in returns this year is set against a record low year in 2014.

Everyone needs to help  by obeying the conservation regulations and otherwise working to protect the future of the species.

It is worth noting that First Nations have also been taking an active part in helping to safeguard the future of the Miramichi salmon. The gill nets have not been in at Red Bank all season, and have been out at Eel Ground since June 13th.

Restigouche –

ASF’s Geoff Giffin, working on the Resigouche noted early on July 30:

“Water is on the low side on the Restigouche at this point, but even still there have been some fresh grilse and salmon entering the system which is great to see in late July. Guides are saying the grilse numbers have improved a lot over the past few years, and many appear to be quite chunky.”

Nathan Wilbur, ASF Director of NB Programs, adds, “A report from the confluence of the Matapedia and Restigouche Rivers suggests that there are some salmon around but that fishing is slow in that section of the river. The water level is good but a little low.”

On the Kedgwick, Danny Bird of Kedgwick Lodge notes:

“Water is dropping. Rain is in the forecast, but guests are continuing to release fish every session. Grilse numbers appear to be up and they seem to be in excellent condition ranging from 3.5 to 5 lbs and very bright.

There is little or no protection or enforcement on the river, and this continues to be a major concern among anglers on the river.”

Bright 36-inch female released on the Upsalquitch. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

Bright 36-inch female released on the Upsalquitch. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

Nova Scotia

Margaree – By Thursday, July 30 the water level had risen somewhat, but the consensus is that more water would be a good thing. There are salmon throughout the system, but with many still holding in the lower pools.

Margaree is rising. Rose Bridge Pool, photographed Thurs., July 30. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

Margaree is rising. Ross Bridge Pool, photographed Thurs., July 30. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

Bill Haley notes:

“During the past week (Wed. night) we had 25+ mm of rain. The river was off-colour and rose a few inches, especially below the Forks. With the exception of the tidal area, fishing was slow. The weather remains cool and the water temperature is 15C-16C. Fish continue to arrive daily, but not in large numbers. Salmon are holding in many of the lower pools and a few are caught daily.”

Greg Lovely adds:

The river has cooled down with the cloudy/rainy weather and as a result, the fishing has improved. We still need more water for the Northeast branch of the river, so the fish can continue their journey up river to their birthplace and spawn successfully. There continues to be fresh fish entering the system and the anecdotal evidence seems to suggest a fairly good run of fish for 2015.”

Alex Breckenridge of The Tying Scotsman reports:

“Lowish water this week but still fish, the majority at Tompkins and below but others caught up river too. River still coming up, still raining as I write so hopefully will have a decent level in a day or so.”

From time to time we share an interesting story that has come our way, and such is the following account from last week that included seven children

Seven Children, Two Adults, and the Margaree

“Rob, our brother-in-law John, and I, along with 7 kids (that’s right, there were 10 of us – kids ranged in age from one of Rob’s older boys Riley who is 19 to my youngest son Mason who is 5) went to the Margaree this past Thursday for a couple of days fishing.

I had promised my boys that I would get them back to Cape Breton again this summer over their vacation to fish for salmon again.

At John Doyles, Margaree River. Left to right are  Tyler Harlow (10yrs), Mason Harlow (5yrs), Gavin Harlow (10yrs), Lucas deMolitor (12yrs) – standing in back w/ red cap), Rob Harlow (holding the salmon), Colby Harlow (10yrs) and Tait Harlow (7yrs). Photo: Alan Harlow

At John Doyles, Margaree River. Left to right are Tyler Harlow (10yrs), Mason Harlow (5yrs), Gavin Harlow (10yrs), Lucas deMolitor (12yrs) – standing in back w/ red cap), Rob Harlow (holding the salmon), Colby Harlow (10yrs) and Tait Harlow (7yrs). Photo: Alan Harlow

We had a blast with the kids, and managed to hook 3 salmon, 1 microgrilse and a trout during the “festivities”.  We landed 2 of the salmon by noon on Thursday. One was estimated at 7-8lbs and another that was about 14lbs. Both were fresh fish with sea lice on them.

Between the two salmon, all of the kids had a turn fighting a fish… it was quite a circus to say the least, but I loved every minute of it.  We’ve definitely got some up-and-comers on the salmon fishing scene, as the kids were starting to get the hang of casting their fly rods.  Even my five-year-old Mason was doing a pretty good job of casting two-handed with my fly rod at the Forks on our last morning.

People definitely knew when we were coming, but there were some that were happy to discover some kids on the river. We fished with Peter that had the gift shop there at the Forks on Friday evening, at the Forks, and were his cheering section while he had a salmon on.

Mason Harlow (Age 5) fishing at The Forks, with his Uncle Rob Harlow, cousins Tait Gavin Harlow, and brother Tyler Harlow in the background, all making a pass through the pool. Photo Alan Harlow

Mason Harlow (Age 5) fishing at The Forks, with his Uncle Rob Harlow, cousins Tait Gavin Harlow, and brother Tyler Harlow in the background, all making a pass through the pool. Photo Alan Harlow

The boys fished until dark, and Peter insisted that we drop by his shop the next day as he wanted to give the kids a t-shirt to remember their trip by – very kind and very much appreciated by all our kids!  On our last morning, Saturday, there was a gentlemen from Glace Bay that hooked a salmon as we were about to pack up, and immediately called to the kids to come out and have a turn on the rod fighting it. Sadly the salmon jumped and threw the hook before the boys got the chance, but I was impressed that a complete stranger would extend this offer.  This really shows the mindset of at least some of the salmon fishermen on the river; I think that a good many are realizing the importance of getting some younger people hooked on fishing if our salmon are going to have anyone looking out for them in the future.

On the trip home, when we came through Antigonish, I commented to my boys how it would have been a great night on the river again.  We had to be home Saturday evening.

Immediately they responded, “Let’s turn around! Let’s go back!” I think that they’ve definitely caught Fishin’ Fever!

– Alan Harlow

La Have – Morgan Falls reported on July 29 a total. 160 in total, including 144 grilse and 16 large salmon.

Newfoundland

DFO in Newfoundland deserves praise for updating the counting fence numbers weekly for most of this season. It helps most of us gain a better picture of what is happening.

It would appear that in general the runs of grilse have continued to be strong in the past 10 days. In addition, the unseasonably cool temperatures have been to the liking of the Atlantic salmon. The fish have been more interested in rising to an angler’s fly and are undoubtedly preferring the higher dissolved oxygen levels on their way upstream.

Exploits – as of July 26 there were 21,535 salmon counted, compared with 22,240 in 2014.

Campbellton River – As of 26 July 2015 a total of 3,715 salmon had been counted, compared with 2,488 in 2014.

Middle Brook had 2,045 to July 27, vs 1,850 last year to the same date.

Conne River – This river on the south coast now has had a return of 2,310 compared with 1,177 in 2014. The 2010-2014 5-year average for 2010 to 2014 was 1,725.

Harry’s River – The total has now reached 4,628, compared with 3,652 to the same date last year. The 2010-2014 5-year average was 3,144.

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

Humber – The west and central portions of the island received considerable rain last Friday, and again on Tuesday night. The water levels rose considerably with the rain, and the water remained comparatively cool. The fishing was actually good, and ASF’s Don Ivany on Sunday released 5 grilse. He noted there were comparatively few anglers at Big Falls on the Humber, but he expected more after this weekend.

Gander River – It also received the recent rain, and levels rose, but have started to drop. Together with the cool water temperatures, the conditions have been excellent for angling.

Northern Peninsula

Torrent River Fishway. Photo Tom Moffatt/ASF

Torrent River Fishway. Photo Tom Moffatt/ASF

These rivers appear to continue to lag, and did not receive the rain other regions experienced. Torrent River had 2,417 salmon by July 26, down a little from the 2,675 in 2014. The 5-year average 2010-2014 is 2,834.

Western Arm Brook is also lower, with 1,058 compared with 1,405 last year. The 2010-2014 5-year average was 1,141.

Labrador

English River is down considerably, with 80 grilse and 39 large salmon by July 26, compared with 167 grilse and 40 large salmon in 2014.

Sand Hill – The numbers appear to have come up somewhat this week, with 1,521 grilse and 746 large salmon, totaling 2,267. In 2014 there were 1,657 grilse and 521 large salmon, totaling 2,178.  As with so many other areas, 2015 is very much a large salmon year.

Muddy Bay Brook has had 140 grilse and 13 large salmon, totaling 153, up in grilse from last year. In 2014 to the same date there were 100 grilse and 13 large salmon, totaling 113.

Paradise River – There have been 116 grilse and 17 large salmon counted to July 26, totaling 133. In 2014 there had been 141 grilse and 28 large salmon totaling  169.

Forteau RiverCecil Butt, in a conversation with Don Ivany was noting that the fishing was good, and especially so in the Ladies Pool area.

Eagle RiverPratt Falls Lodge notes not only a strong run of large salmon this year, but that many grilse are rather large and healthy, a very good sign that conditions on winter feeding grounds were good, unlike the year before.

Gabe Cavallaro of Rifflin Hitch Lodge sent a text message that reads like poetry:

“River levels continue to above average.
Strong and cold current making river very active.
big fish, big grilse
late start paid off.”

Flowers RiverMike Crosby notes, “Water conditions on the river are on the low side of medium with good numbers of fresh salmon and grilse entering the river daily. Anglers are experiencing good fishing with multiple hook ups daily.”

Quebec

Unseasonably cool weather and cold water conditions during the first half of the season have contributed to very good angling…stronger salmon runs in 2015 make it all possible.

Cascapedia River

To July 24, the Cascapedia Society is reporting “Wow is all we can say, over and over again!!” 872 salmon have been released this month  and with the 705 in June, we have surpassed the total for June and July of 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014.  Congratulations to all and keep up the good work.

Cascapedia Society employee and student Sarah Nellis, was very excited to get a chance to fish and even happier to land her first salmon!! It was safely released and weighed approximately 18 lbs. Both fish and angler were smiling from ear to ear. Photo by Kenny Labrecque.

Cascapedia Society employee and student Sarah Nellis, was very excited to get a chance to fish and even happier to land her first salmon!! It was safely released and weighed approximately 18 lbs. Both fish and angler were smiling from ear to ear. Photo by Kenny Labrecque.

à Mars River

To July 28, 262 fish have been counted (breakdown not available).  Anglers have released 41 salmon and harvested 30 grilse for a total of 71 fish.

At July 31 2014, 92 fish had been counted and anglers had released 13 salmon and harvested 7 grilse.

Saint-Jean River (Saguenay)

To July 28, 39 salmon have been reported released and 45 grilse harvested for a total of 84 fish landed.

For the entire 2014 season, 35 fish had been reported landed (19 salmon released and 16 grilse killed).

Matapedia River

For the season at July 28, a total of 873 fish have been landed (including 114 releases).  To July 28 2014, 598 fish were reported landed (including 88 releases).

Please see captures comparative graph at July 22 2000 to 2014.

Matapedia - Graph of capture to July 22, for years 2000 through 2014.

Matapedia – Graph of capture to July 22, for years 2000 through 2014.

The 2014 mid-season in-river count was completed during the 3rd week of July, and at that time CGRMP management decided to use a precautionary approach based on the results. 

Majority of fish observed were 3 SW salmon with few 2 SW and fewer grilse than usual.  Live release had been mandated for all large salmon from August 1 until the end of the angling season at September 30.

To July 30, 2013, a total of 907 fish had been reported landed (including 108 releases); on the same day the river was flowing at 15 cubic meters per second early in the AM and by midnight was flowing at 23 cubic meters per second.

To July 30, 2012, a total of 612 fish had been reported landed (including 52 releases).  In 2011, to date, 1,557 fish were reported landed which included 208 reported releases.

Causapscal River – Season is to July 15

An update to end of 2015 season data that was reported earlier:  156 salmon were landed (including 7 releases)

To July 15, 2014, a total of 160 salmon had been landed (including 9 releases).

Please see captures comparative graph at July 15 2000 to 2014

Causapscal - Captures graph to July 22, from 2000 through 2014.

Causapscal – Captures graph to July 22, from 2000 through 2014.

As of July 23, 2014, 445 salmon and 20 grilse had migrated to the “Marais” sanctuary pool.  One individual was estimated at 45 lbs.  For the season in 2014, 479 migrated to the sanctuary pool.

For the 2013 season, 866 migrated to the sanctuary pool; in 2012 there were 481 and in 2011 a total of 1,224.

Matane River

To July 28, for the season, 1,544 fish (884 salmon and 660 grilse) had been counted at the fishway.  As of the same date, 138 salmon and 13 grilse have been released, 188 grilse killed for a total of 339 reported landings.

As of July 29, 2014, a total of 622 fish (393 salmon and 229 grilse) had migrated through the fishway.  As of July 28, for the season, 78 fish were reported as landed, 38 salmon killed to July 22, 2 salmon reported released and 38 grilse killed.

As of July 30, 2013, 1,388 fish (1,059 salmon and 329 grilse) had migrated though the counting facility.  Also to date, 240 fish were reported landed (156 salmon and 84 grilse).

As of July 30, 2012, 1,375 fish (766 salmon and 609 grilse) were counted.  Landed to that date totaled 438 fish (225 salmon and 213 grilse).

Aux Rochers River

To July 28, a total of 512 fish have returned to the river (350 salmon and 162 grilse.  To date, 144 salmon and 18 grilse have been released, 111 grilse harvested for a total of 270.

To July 29, 2014, a total of 298 fish migrated through the trap (181 salmon and 198 grilse).  Also to July 29, a total of 103 fish have been landed, 57 salmon released, 6 salmon killed, 5 grilse released, 35 grilse killed.

To July 30, 2013, 494 fish had entered the trap (377 salmon and 77 grilse) for transport around the falls.  To date, 186 fish have been landed (122 salmon released, 25 salmon retained, 4 grilse released and 35 grilse retained).

Trinité River

At July 19, 2015, a total of 413 fish (111 salmon and 302 grilse) had migrated to the river.  To date, 79 fish have been reported landed (18 salmon and 1 grilse released, 60 grilse harvested).

As of July 29, 2014, a total of 247 fish (69 salmon, 178 grilse) had migrated through the fishway.  To date, 10 salmon and 1 grilse were reported released and 10 grilse killed.  Total run for 2014 was 300 fish (65 salmon and 235 grilse).

The total migration for 2013 was 398 fish (226 salmon and 172 grilse).

Godbout River

To July 19, there were 290 fish counted (207 salmon and 83 grilse).  Anglers have landed and released 115 salmon and 56 grilse, while 114 grilse were killed.

To July 28 2014, anglers had landed and released 60 salmon and 11 grilse, while 28 grilse were killed.  Migration numbers were not available.

Mitis River

To July 28, 395 salmon and 680 grilse had been counted.  Anglers have reported releasing 30 salmon and harvesting 116 grilse.

To July 29 2014, 129 salmon and 54 grilse had been counted and 5 salmon and 3 grilse retained. Live release had been implemented on July 23.

To the same date in 2013, 612 salmon and 282 grilse had migrated to the counting facility and 137 had been killed, 3 released and 91 grilse retained.

Madeleine River

To July 28, 849 fish (434 salmon and 415 grilse) had migrated to the river.  It was announced as of August 1st a harvest quota of 50 large salmon will be implemented.

To July 29 2014, 219 salmon and 129 grilse had been counted via the fishway for a total of 348. Total run for 2014 was 582 fish (308 salmon and 274 grilse).

At July 23 2013, 1,011 fish had migrated via the fish-way.  Total run was 1,374 (1,060 salmon and 314 grilse).

Rimouski River

To July 28, 329 fish (114 salmon and 215 grilse) had reached the counting facility.  58 salmon have been reported released and 114 grilse killed.

To July 29 2014, 50 salmon and 6 grilse had reached the counting facility.  To date 10 salmon had been released and 2 grilse killed.

To July 30 2013, 386 fish had been counted migrating through (269 salmon and 117 grilse).  Also to date, 101 fish had been landed (73 salmon released and 28 grilse retained).

To the same date in 2012, 339 fish were counted (166 salmon and 173 grilse).  84 fish had been landed to that date (22 salmon released and 62 grilse retained).

Maine

Salmon continue to come in to the Penobscot. As of July 27, 2015 the total at the Milford fish lift was 645 large salmon and 70 grilse, a total of 715.

In 2014 to July 29, the number was only 174 large salmon and 78 grilse, totaling 252. Thus in 2015 the run is very close to 3 times that of 2014.

The Kennebec, as of the same date has 25 large salmon and 2 grilse. Last year to about the same date the Kennebec had 13 salmon.

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