Cameras – Underwater and On High

A Pentax waterproof camera is used to photograph the release by Serge Cormier of a salmon in Green Brook Pool on the Grand Cascapedia River in Gaspé.

A Pentax waterproof camera is used to photograph the release by Serge Cormier of a salmon in Green Brook Pool on the Grand Cascapedia River in Gaspé.

There is a right way to take a live release photograph. It is with the Atlantic salmon in the water, able to breathe, and get its breath back, so to speak. While holding an Atlantic salmon close above the water for less than five seconds is okay, keeping it in the water is even better.

In the past few years taking that live release photo with the salmon in the water has potentially become more creative, with the production of excellent point-and-shoot waterproof cameras for both stills and videos. Given that rivers and ordinary cameras don’t mix well, take a hard look at some of the options.

Olympus Tough camera was used to photograph a salmon release on the Bonaventure River in early August of this year.

Olympus Tough camera was used to photograph a salmon release on the Bonaventure River in early August of this year.

The Olympus TG-2 iHS might be worth a look at. Check out reviews around the web and see what you think. There is also the Pentax cameras like the WG-2. Once again, check out reviews. Some complain the screen of the Pentax is difficult to see underwater. And then there is the GoPro, especially their model Hero3.  This one has taken the water world by storm for its high quality High Definition video, decent stills, and extremely light weight. It even produces high quality slow motion, if taken at 60 frames per second. A downside can be the length of time the video camera can operate with the standard battery. A second issue is that because the camera is so small, often the video is very amateurish and shaky. Good video needs to be held steady for extended periods, and most definitely not waved around. With care, it can produce beautiful results.

DJI Phantom with GoPro

DJI Phantom with GoPro. Anyone for an aerial view of a live release? Or is it as welcome during a salmon release as a buzzing horsefly?

The GoPro Hero3 has another trick up its sleeve however. At the beginning of 2013, a bargain-priced quadcopter “drone” went on sale that was specifically designed to carry GoPro cameras aloft. Called the DJI Phantom, this $600 to $700 device weighing 800 gm will lift one of the GoPro cameras, and is noted for being very responsive to control by the operator. The DJI phantom has an effective range of about 300 metres, will fly for about seven minutes on one battery charge. This device is a milestone – the first mass-market drone that has sophisticated and stable controls.

GoPro Hero3 with its underwater case. It takes fantastically good high definition video.

GoPro Hero3 with its underwater case. It takes fantastically good high definition video. Price about $400. You can even wear it on a headband sold by the company. It can also be used on a chest harness, but results for flyfishing are not satisfactory.

The rules for flying in Canada at present are that any device this size is classified as a model airplane. And as long as it is being used for non-commercial purposes, it can be flown on any property where there is permission to fly it. Remember it does take time to get to know the DJI Phantom operationally, and especially if it is being used over water. This is a rugged device, but does not float. And when it comes to others being in the area, it does making a significant buzzing sound.

Undoubtedly by next year we will start to see some flyfishing shots taken with this. But whether anglers use them somewhere to provide a new perspective on their release of an Atlantic salmon remains to be seen. Obviously it would require another individual dedicated to operating the camera-drone. Be aware that it does take practice to use effectively, and the operator needs to use caution around other people.  Plus don’t use where others will be annoyed at having it impinge on their own salmon and river experience. To understand the capabilities of the DJI Phantom with a GoPro camera, a video made in June in Finland helps – click here

River Reports


The island rivers have continued to be on the warm side, and some low on water. Fishing has slowed, overall. But just today (Aug. 28) the Aug. 25 counts are out, and the results are positive when compared with last year, except for the Northern Peninsula rivers.

Exploits – To Aug. 25 33,136 salmon have been counted, compared to 30,294 in 2012. This is a bit below the 2008-2012 average of 37,783, but those years included the record returns of 2010 and 2011.

Campbellton River – With 4,595 returning by Aug. 25, that is well above the 2012 4,191, and a few salmon ahead of the previous five year average.

Middle Brook – 2,994 to Aug. 25, ahead of 2,719 for 2012

Terra Nova – This river had 4,185 salmon, compared with 3,862 in 2012.

Conne – With 2,435 to Aug. 25, it surpassed considerably the 2012 return of 1,960.

Harry’s River – The Didson count remains just below 3,000, at 2,951, but above last year’s 2,248. The Didson units use a visual representation of a “radar-like” imaging of the fish. While the units are much appreciated in BC and Alaska, there have been issues in Newfoundland differentiating grilse and large salmon.

Torrent – This river on the Northern Peninsula has had a disappointing return of 2,984 to Aug. 25.  This is far below last year’s 3,836 and even further behind the five-year average of 4,615.

Western Arm Brook – Also down, with 777 to Aug. 25, against 1,170 in 2012 and 1,487 for the previous five-year average.


Flowers River – There are still reports of good fishing here, with Flowers River Lodge reporting six salmon hooked at Top Pool yesterday. Water levels medium to low, and great water clarity.

English River – The counting fence has 581 (145 large salmon, 436 grilse) which is an improvement for both over 2012’s 444 (67 large salmon, 377 grilse).

Sand Hill – This river has seen  a greater return of large salmon – 1,267, along with fewer grilse – 1,622, totalling 2,889. In 2012 there were 733 large salmon, and  3,526 grilse, totalling 4,259. This river has a run that is extremely volatile in numbers, one year to the next.

Muddy Bay Brook – This river has had 36 large salmon and 296 grilse, totalling 332. In 2012 there were 10 large salmon and 253 grilse, totalling 263, so a positive change in 2013.

Nova Scotia

Water levels are generally low. Overall attention is turning to the Northumberland Strait rivers, where the Atlantic salmon season opens on Sunday.

Gold River is showing the low water conditions that are now impacting large parts of Nova Scotia. Photo taken Aug. 28, 2013.

Gold River is showing the low water conditions that are now impacting large parts of Nova Scotia. Photo taken Aug. 28, 2013.


Cascapedia River – To August 22, Darlene Sexton has reported that 274 salmon had been released and two grilse retained.  The Cascapedia has also witnessed a dramatic reduction in the number of grilse observed and angled to date; only 12 in total. Water flow has dropped considerably and is registered  less than 13 cubic meters per second on the 27th.

Madeleine River – As of August 18, the Madeleine River Zec has reported  a total of  1,230 (997 salmon and 233 grilse) through the counting facility. The closest comparative date in 2012 is August 22 when a total of 1,016 (672 salmon and 344 grilse) had been counted.

Rimouski River – As of August 25, 507 fish had been counted (317 salmon and 190 grilse) compared to 381 (178 salmon and 203 grilse) at the same date in 2012. This year’s numbers are considerably higher than the entire 2012 season totals at September 30 of  385 (179 salmon and 206 grilse).

Captures to August 25 include 87 released salmon and 49 retained grilse for a total of 136.  The Rimouski grilse numbers continue to reflect a generalized trend on most rivers as well as the increase in salmon.
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Matane River – To August 26, 1,565 salmon and 579 grilse had been counted totalling 2,144 fish.  To date in 2012 for the season, 2,001 (989 salmon and 1,012) grilse had migrated through the counting facility. Reported captures to August 26 are 618 (329 salmon and 203 grilse).  At the same date in 2012 a total of 718 fish had been reported landed (305 salmon and 413 grilse).

Matapedia River – To August 26, for the 2013 season 1,183 fish had been reported landed which includes 142 released.  At the same date in 2012, 742 fish had been reported landed which included 55 releases.

Mitis River – As of August 26, 650 salmon and 350 grilse had been counted for a total of 1,000.  In 2012 at the same date, 918 fish (560 salmon and 358 grilse) had been counted.
Captures to date are reported to be 272 (26 salmon released, 118 salmon and 128 grilse reported deceased).  The reported captures at the same date last year were reported at 255 (22 salmon released, 101 salmon and 132 grilse deceased).

2007 to 2012 total run data:
2007    680 fish (345 salmon and 335 grilse)    74 % of minimum spawning requirement
2008    1,409 fish (464 salmon and 945 grilse)    97 % of minimum spawning requirement
2009    1,014 fish (634 salmon and 380 grilse)    126 % of minimum spawning requirement
2010    832 fish (470 salmon and 362 grilse)    92 % of minimum spawning requirement
2011    1,306 fish (516 salmon and 790 grilse)    109 % of minimum spawning requirement
2012    980 fish (580 salmon and 400 grilse)    103 % of minimum spawning requirement

New Brunswick

dungarvon-aug25-2013Southwest Miramichi – The Dungarvon Barrier is reporting to Aug. 25 a total of 225 large salmon vs. 107 in 2012, and 191 grilse vs. 131 in 2012.

Lower down the river the angling comments say the salmon are less interested in taking flies, but are present. Water levels are still above average for late August.

Judy Lutes, in the upper part of the system notes things this way:

“River levels are down and temperatures cool, with few anglers on the river. Not many salmon are being caught, but there is a lot jumping and rolling seen on the river, a bit unusual for late Aug. This is true for the main river from Napodogan Lake up (RT 107) and into Juniper on the south branch. But overall, the river is like a really rich fruit this year, by comparison to last year.”

Cains River, Hopewell Pool, taken Aug. 25. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

Cains River, Hopewell Pool, taken Aug. 25. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

 nwbarrierNorthwest Miramichi – There have been salmon arriving at the barrier this week, with eight grilse and a large salmon last Friday being a highlight, along with several individuals since.

Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures has this to say:

“We still have high water and catching was good on the weekend with some anglers limiting out. The water is cool and fall run must be on the way.”

Nepisiguit – We noticed that numbers seemed low last week. This is what we had last week:

“To Aug. 15, there were 43 large salmon against 35 in 2012, and for grilse only 38, vs. 105 for 2012.”  Upon enquiry, Bob Baker noted the following regarding numbers this year on the Nepisiguit:

The Nepisiguit fence was operational as of July 22nd, and out of operation from July 27- Aug 17 due to high water levels. To Aug. 21 it had approximately 80-90 fish in nine days operation.

There have been good numbers of fish evident in the river since water cooled down commencing around July 20, but no way to even estimate numbers. – Bob Baker

Too often this is the problem with counting fences – high water makes them actually dangerous to operate, and prone to fouling with debris.

Nepisiguit River Counting Fence. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

Nepisiguit River Counting Fence. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

Jacquet River – To Aug. 25 there have been a total of 225 large salmon and grilse, vs. 188 in 2012. In 2013 this has included 111 large salmon and 114 grilse, vs. 49 large salmon and 139 grilse in 2012.


Penobscot – The Veazie Dam demolition is proceeding, with a breaching of the main portion of the dam.

Veazie cofferdam breached Aug. 21.

Veazie cofferdam breached Aug. 21. Photo Penobscot River Restoration Trust


To all Readers – have a great Labour Day Weekend

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One Response to Cameras – Underwater and On High

  1. Jeff Hiltz says:

    Great report, and we are all doing rain dances around the NS Northumberland rivers!!

    As for waterproof point and shoots, we are very happy with the Olympus Tough TG1 for both above and below the water. Here is a little video my wife shot underwater around NS

    Happy fishing!

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