It has been approximately three weeks since the Atlantic salmon season opened on New Brunswick’s Miramichi, with anglers seeking out spring salmon (alias black salmon) before they return to sea to feed and recondition.
“The first two days were excellent, with the water low and clear,” said Keith Wilson of Wilson’s Sporting Camps. “There was still ice in the headwaters and occasional pieces on the shore. Then the water rose, became dirtier, and it was still good normal spring fishing.”
“Almost all of our anglers caught and released one MSW salmon, and many had several each day. The conditions called for sinking line, and smaller flies, of course.”
Keith Wilson went on to note that as of 5 May anglers were still landing and releasing fish in the 30 to 34 inch range. Overall, he rated the black salmon season as similar to last year’s.
Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures noted that by May 6 that the spring salmon were moving out and fewer were being angled.
“It was a great season, with the right level of water, and no snow to interfere with the angling,” she noted.
Tagging Kelts – On May 6 ASF researchers led by Jonathan Carr were on the Northwest Miramichi, working as a team with staff from the Miramichi Salmon Association. With the help of First Nations fishermen catching the salmon, the researchers have been implanting acoustic tags into kelts. These transmitters produce a sound that will be recorded by anchored receivers as the fish swim down river, out through the Miramichi estuary, and across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The researchers are also attaching satellite tags that are designed to release from the salmon and transmit to satellites when they reach the surface.
ASF staff have already deployed arrays of receivers on the Miramichi system, and across the mouth of Miramichi Bay.
Striped Bass – New this year has been a striped bass season in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. The fish were at a low point about 2000 and received protection, but in the past few years have been present in high numbers. Concerns were rising that with the lower returns of salmon and grilse in 2012 that the smolt-eating habits of the striped bass could be having a devastating effect. With this in mind, DFO opened a very limited 1-fish per person per day limit, with the season May 1 and May 15.
Many have been out catching the striped bass, and the centre of that fishery has begun moving slowly upstream towards the main spawning area in the Miramichi system. Debbie Norton, like others, appreciates the season being open.
“DFO has said they are allocating $100,000 for research, so hopefully that will lead to a more liberal season next year,” she notes.
Weatherwise, the Miramichi system, like much of the region, has had more than a week of bright, blue-sky days, and most are now hoping that significant rain will fall, but it appears it won’t be this week.
ASF Researchers have already implanted acoustic transmitters in 25 kelts at the Rafting Ground on the Restigouche with the assistance of members of the Gaspe’gewag Mi’gmaq Resource Council . Arrays of receivers have now been deployed in the Restigouche and the inner Baie des Chaleurs, and a line of transmitters across the mouth of Baie des Chaleurs. Unlike last year, the winds were calm and temperatures moderate for this open-water research.
Next on the ASF Research agenda will be tagging smolts on both the Miramichi and on the Restigouche, and then the Cascapedia.