Continued Signs of Better Runs

Bringing in a salmon at Bentley's Pool on the Forteau River in Labrador. Photo Don Ivany/ASF

Bringing in a salmon at Bentley’s Pool on the Forteau River in Labrador. Photo Don Ivany/ASF

An ATV accident in Newfoundland involving salmon anglers headed for a favourite stream happened far from areas of cell coverage, and a satellite phone saved the day. We would like to hear any stories you might have that combine wilderness salmon angling and any of the four satellite phone systems. Satellite phones are coming down in price, and even can be rented – but are they worth the cost?

As an interesting comparison to the salmon returns in North American rivers detailed below, you may wish to view the overview of European returns of Atlantic salmon that was the subject of last week’s Rivernotes. For that post, click here:
http://atlanticsalmonfederation.org/rivernotes/?p=2853

Two further European reports have come our way this week –

Adour River, France
At the fishway of Massaye on the Adour River in southwest France, a total of 1,914 salmon had been counted by Aug. 23, 2015. This is best return since the fishway was built at Massaye. The salmon runs of these rivers of southwest France are described by Pliny the Elder, who died in the Vesuvius eruption of 79AD. Good to know that salmon restoration is proceeding nicely more than 19 centuries later.

Brittany Salmon Rivers, France
Elorn – Return is lower in 2015. So far about 400 salmon returning, vs. about 600 to 800 in 2014 and 2013, notes Jean Baptiste Vidal, an angling guide in the region.

He also notes that overall in these short rivers of Brittany, the spring run of salmon was tremendous this year, perhaps the best in the last 20 to 25 years. The quota had been reached on every salmon river in Brittany before June 15, when spring salmon fishing closed. The Léguer closed 15 days after it opened, with 41 salmon declared by the anglers. The Ellé closed around May 1 when it reached its quota of 87. The Aven River closed even earlier.

There are many small salmon rivers in Brittany, a peninsula in westernmost France.

There are many small salmon rivers in Brittany, a peninsula in westernmost France.

A great site for more information on the salmon rivers of Brittany:
http://www.observatoire-poissons-migrateurs-bretagne.fr/bassins-versants

Newfoundland

There is no way around the fact that Newfoundland is having a very good year. Perhaps the Exploits is not reaching the high point of a few years ago, but these facts are important, as of the 23 Aug. Counting Fence reports:

  • EVERY assessed river on the island is better than 2014
  • All but two rivers (Exploits and Campbellton) are better than the recent 5-year-average
  • All rivers but the Conne are better in 2015 than the pre-moratorium 1984-1991 average

The hot weather finally descended on Newfoundland, and this has been having its impact on the rivers in the past week especially.

Exploits – The count to Aug. 23 is 30,462 salmon, ahead of the 28,841 in 2014, but not quite reaching that 2010-2014 average of 35,722.

Campbellton River – With 4,504 salmon, it beats out the 4,413 of 2014 to the same date, but below the 4,575 for the most recent five-year-average.

Middle Brook has reached 3,710, well ahead of 3,076 in 2014, and far ahead of the recent five-year-average of 1,529.

Terra Nova has 5,086 compared with 3,527 in 2014.

Garnish – This river in the Avalon is a new fence, put in place to be a NL index river of wild/escapee interactions, and so far has 626 entering the river.

Conne – The 2,400 in this south coast river is definitely better than the 1,184 in 2014 an even ahead of the 1,727 of the most recent five-year-average. However, it is far below its traditional numbers. The 1984-1991 average was 6,120.

Harry’s River has 4,957 salmon, compared with 3,755 in 2014 to the same date, and certainly a fairly good year for the past generation. Temperatures up to 22 C

Harry’s River was affected by a deluge last weekend, with 40 mm. in a few hours, but water levels down below medium levels again.

Humber – good signs of large salmon on the lower Humber River. Expect more large fish in near future, notes Don Ivany. Next week is supposed to be cooler.

Northern Peninsula Leaper, on the Big East River at Hawke's Bay - photo Tom Moffatt/ASF

Northern Peninsula Leaper, on the Big East River at Hawke’s Bay – photo Tom Moffatt/ASF

Torrent River is finally getting up there, with 4,959 salmon to Aug. 23, more than 1,000 ahead of the 3,930 in 2014. Also ahead of the 4,040 of the 2010-2014 five-year-average.

Western Brook has 1,592 salmon, and this compares favourably with the 1,461 in 2014.

Gander RiverTolson Parsons notes:

“Fishing has slowed quite a bit due to the very hot weather we’ve had in the past couple of weeks. However, latest counts through the various fishways in central are showing this to be a very good year. It will be interesting to see how the fall fishery will go on the Gander River once the weather cools.”

On the Avalon Peninsula rivers, Rick Maddigan notes:

“Good runs earlier but few fresh fish now. The water is now very low and warm with few anglers active. There are many reports of jigging.”

Labrador

Angling on the St. Charles River in Labrador this year.

Angling on the St. Charles River in Labrador this year.

Three of the four counting fences have improved numbers in 2015, and angler accounts say that Atlantic salmon are still coming in from the ocean.

English River – To Aug 23 there have been 632 grilse and 240 large salmon, totaling 872. In 2014 there were 778 grilse and 168 large salmon, totaling 946.

Sand Hill River – This extremely variable river has 2,538 grilse and 1,080 large salmon counted, totaling 3,618. In 2014 this was 1,813 grilse and 585 large salmon totaling 2,398.

Muddy Bay Brook has 427 grilse and 34 large salmon, totaling 461, vs. the 2014 return of 131 grilse and 20 large salmon, totaling 151.

Paradise River has 292 grilse and 55 large salmon, totaling 347 to Aug. 23. In 2014 there were 180 grilse and 38 large salmon, totaling 218.

Eagle RiverGabe Cavallaro of Rifflin Hitch Lodge notes:

We are seeing an exceptional number of fish in late summer now. Lots of silver fish still active on the Eagle. Lower water levels and slightly warmer temps slowing things a bit, but up and down the river the activity remains high.

Dwight Lethbridge, Pratt Falls Lodge, also on the Eagle River:

We left the river on Aug 21, finished for the season. Up until then fishing was still good and river conditions were still very good with cold water and plenty of pools. We were seeing fresh fish right up to the day before we left camp and it was no trouble to have multiple hook ups in a day.

Flowers River – Mike Crosby, Flowers River Lodge:

We had a few pretty good rains last week and water levels have improved. Fishing continues to be good with new fish entering the river daily. Most anglers are hooking multiple fish daily and still catching a lot in dry flies.

Flowers River looks good. Salmon being released by ASF's Don Ivany

Flowers River looks good. Salmon being released by ASF’s Don Ivany during a visit prior to 2015.

New Brunswick

Miramichi –
Most importantly to anglers, the morning-only angling restriction has been lifted, while the pool closures remain in force. Check GVO-2015-067:

http://www.inter.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Gulf/Orders-Registry/Report?order_id=4238

The trapnet and counting fence data continue to indicate improvement this year – and certainly every salmon is needed in the spawning streams to help put the Miramichi on the way to recovery.

ASF’s Nathan Wilbur notes:

Widespread significant rains on Wednesday are providing a very much needed flush of water into our salmon rivers. This is raising levels and lowering water temperatures, creating the conditions that both anglers and salmon want going into the fall season. Hopefully the rains continue off and on into September to set up conditions for a good fall run.

Northwest Miramichi
The Cassilis Trapnet has had some very good numbers this year, To Aug. 15 there were 1,257 grilse and 284 large salmon, a vast improvement over last year’s ultra-low return of 61 grilse and 41 large salmon to the same date.

The Northwest Barrier Counting facility, located far up the NW branch, has not seen the same vast improvement. To Aug. 23, there were 185 grilse and 64 large salmon, vs. the 2014 returns of 135 grilse and 56 large salmon.

Little Southwest Miramichi – Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures notes:

“River was warm and we had morning only fishing but it opened back up today (Aug. 25) for fishing all day since water temps have dropped, and fishing will once again be good. We are currently enjoying fishing over the run of fish that recently came in and we are polishing up our boots for the upcoming fall run!”

Southwest Miramichi

In the headwaters of the Cains River on Aug. 22. In 2014 this branch of the Miramichi did better than most. It remains to be seen what 2015 brings. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

In the headwaters of the Cains River on Aug. 22. In 2014 this branch of the Miramichi did better than most. It remains to be seen what 2015 brings. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

The Millerton Trapnet had 1,139 grilse and 421 large salmon to Aug. 15, far above the ultra-low 2014 number of 283 grilse and 185 large salmon.

The Dungarvon Barrier had very few salmon headed upstream between Aug. 15, and Aug. 23. The total numbers to Aug. 23 are 154 grilse and 147 large salmon, vs. the 2014 returns of 71 grilse and 56 large salmon.

Brock Curtis in Blackville notes:

The heavy rains Aug. 26 sent river levels up. Way up.

The heavy rains Aug. 26 sent river levels up. Way up.

Angling has been slow here on the Miramichi. Now that morning restrictions have been lifted we are seeing more anglers coming through the Tackle Shop. The river still remains low and warm. Salmon are holding in cool water pools. Cloudy and cooler here today, the forecast for rain and cooler temperatures is exactly what we need for the river. Predictions from anglers is that a good rain should raise the river, cool it down, and with a full moon on the weekend we could see a fresh run of salmon. Anticipate fishing to pick up later in the week.

Saint John – A total of 596 grilse and 86 large salmon were counted by Aug. 15 at the Mactaquac Dam, against 126 grilse and 66 large salmon in 2014. These numbers are only a fraction of the thousands that traditionally ascended the Saint John River.

Nashwaak – There were 183 grilse and 36 large salmon to Aug. 15, compared with 46 grilse and 14 large salmon in 2014 to the same date.

On Aug. 26 the massive rains across NB caused the Nashwaak River to rise significantly. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

On Aug. 26 the massive rains across NB caused the Nashwaak River to rise significantly. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Magaguadavic – The ASF has monitored the fishway at St. George for 23 years as an index river of wild/aquaculture interactions. As of Aug. 26 there have been 6 grilse, 2 large salmon, plus 3 aquaculture escapees. As of the same time in 2014 there had been 5 grilse, 1 large salmon and

Restigouche – ASF’s Nathan Wilbur notes:

Rains in northern NB provided a nice raise in water on the Restigouche. A report from low in the system informed us that there was even a little run of salmon drawn in over the past few days.

Tabusintac River in northern New Brunswick, on Aug. 25, 2015. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Tabusintac River in northern New Brunswick, on Aug. 25, 2015. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Nova Scotia

Margaree – The clouds have opened and the rains have come. On the weekend there was a major deluge last weekend.

Margaree – Alex Breckenridge, The Tying Scotsman
River came up overnight on Saturday, and Sunday was unfishable. By Wednesday the NW Branch of the Margaree was running clear and all the lower pools were being fished.
Regarding numbers last week, 23 salmon were successfully angled that I know of, but I can only pass on what I hear. It was a busy week in the shop and I imagine there were more fish landed than I heard of. With the river at present level we should have good fishing for a while.

This past weekend the NW Branch of the Margaree rose with heavy rains, and these are now receding.

This past weekend the NW Branch of the Margaree rose with heavy rains, and these are now receding. Photo Alex Breckenridge/The Tying Scotsman

Greg Lovely

Bill Haley, myself and a couple of other volunteers have been doing the STRIPER study and always manage to hook the required 30 or so each time we go for each month’s “gathering” of fish for study of stomach contents. It will be interesting to read the results when they are made available.

Cheticamp River
The same intense rain events hit the Cheticamp River, even requiring evacuation of the national park’s campground. The waters have now somewhat receded, but certainly have set up some good conditions for angling.

On Aug. 27, Rene Aucoin and Jillian Baker of the Cheticamp river salmon association looking at the channel formed on the lower Cheticamp after a major rain event. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

On Aug. 27, Rene Aucoin and Jillian Baker of the Cheticamp river salmon association looking at the channel formed on the lower Cheticamp after a major rain event. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

Cheticamp River flooded last weekend, with a rise of more than 1.5 metres in height.

Cheticamp River flooded last weekend, with a rise of more than 1.5 metres in height.

LaHave River – Morgan Falls Fishway is not reporting any new fish since early August. The total remains 150 grilse and 17 large salmon, against 42 grilse and 21 large salmon to Aug. 15, in 2014.

Sackville River – To Aug. 15 there were 29 grilse and 2 large salmon, compared with the 2014 count of 7 grilse and 3 large salmon.

Quebec

Madeleine River, just above the fishway. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF

Madeleine River, just above the fishway. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF

Badly needed rain has graced a certain number of rivers over the last few days. Mother Nature seems to have missed other rivers that could benefit from a gift from the sky. With the overall good numbers of fish to date this season, angling success should improve very soon.

Madeleine River

The last reported data was on August 9, 1,087 fish (502 salmon and 585 grilse). Certainly this compares favourably with the 544 fish (299 salmon and 245 grilse) counted in 2014 to Aug. 26.

Rimouski River

Rimouski River Fishway. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF

Rimouski River Fishway. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF

The Count: At August 21 for the season, 805 fish (168 salmon and 637 grilse) were counted. For comparison, to August 26 2014, a total of 284 fish (176 salmon and 108 grilse) had been counted.

Angling: Captures to August 21 include 81 salmon released and 173 grilse retained for a total of 254. Captures to August 26 2014 included 23 salmon released and 19 grilse retained for a total of 42.

Matane River

The Count: For the season to August 22, a total of 2,157 fish had been counted (999 salmon and 1,158 grilse). Meanwhile in 2014, to August 25th, 1,228 fish have been counted (650 salmon and 578 grilse).

Angling: Reported captures to August 22 are 703 (81 salmon killed and 425 grilse killed). 197 releases have been reported (158 salmon and 39 grilse). Reported captures to August 25 2014 totaled 223 (38 salmon and 185 grilse killed). 60 releases had been reported ( 50 salmon and 10 grilse).

Matapedia River

For the season at August 22, 1,133 fish had been reported landed including 188 subsequent releases. Since implementation of mandatory live release of large salmon as of August 5, 63 fish have been released. This compares favourably to 2014, when by August 25, 830 fish had been reported landed including 206 releases.

Mitis River

The Count: At August 22 for the season, 1,394 fish have been counted (448 salmon and 946 grilse). Last year, by August 24, 438 fish had been counted (252 salmon and 186 grilse).

Angling: Reported catches to August 22 stand at 246 (45 salmon released and 201 grilse killed). Reported catches to August 24 2014 stand at 22 (5 salmon killed, 17 grilse killed) plus 12 salmon released.

Early morning mist and canoe on the Bonaventure River in Gaspé. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

Early morning mist and canoe on the Bonaventure River in Gaspé. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

Aux Rochers River

The Count: To August 16 for the season, 732 fish (418 salmon and 314 grilse) had migrated through the counting trap. The closest comparative date is September 15 2014, when 408 fish (218 salmon and 190 grilse) had been counted.

Angling: Captures to August 16 for the season, 309 fish (148 salmon and 20 grilse released, 141 grilse killed). Captures to September 15 2014, 110 fish (58 salmon and 5 grilse released, 6 salmon and 41 grilse killed).

Godbout River

Gadabout River in its deep gorge. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF

Godabout River in its deep gorge. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF

The Count: For the season to August 20, 739 fish have been counted (salmon and grilse breakdown not available). For the season to August 26 2014, 195 fish had been counted (breakdown not available). Thus there are more than 3 ½ times as many in 2015!

Angling: Angling results to August 20 are as follows: 347 fish landed (118 salmon and 65 grilse released, 164 grilse killed). Reported angling results to August 26 2014: 131 fish landed (78 salmon and 16 grilse released, 37 grilse killed).

Maine

Penobscot The return of Atlantic salmon through the Milford Fish Lift has essentially stopped, with only a single fish on Aug. 18, the first since Aug. 2. The Total stands at 722, significantly better than the very low 259 in 2014, and the best year since the spectacular return of 3,025 in 2011.

The 2015 migration of Atlantic salmon through the Milford Fish Lift is just about at an end.

The 2015 migration of Atlantic salmon through the Milford Fish Lift is just about at an end.

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