Tropical Storm Arthur battered the Maritimes over the weekend, knocking out power to camps, and raising rivers to near spring-like levels. Water temperatures also plummeted which came as a welcome relief to many outfitters who had been anticipating some closures due to low water levels and warm temperatures. Many roads are still impassible due to downed trees with reports of more cutting than fishing. But with higher water levels and cooler temperatures, Arthur’s arrival wasn’t all bad—especially for fishing conditions.
Reports say salmon runs are down throughout the North Atlantic, with the exception of a few rivers such as the Ponoi in Russia and Big Laxa in Iceland.
Message from Geoff Giffin, ASF Director of New Brunswick Programs:
(July 8, 2014) “I am en route to fish Crown Reserve at Squirrel Falls on the North Branch Sevogle. High water everywhere from the storm. Everyone scratching their heads as to where the fish are. All hoping this will bring them in but the situation is concerning.
Here is a pic of the Cains running high which I just took on our way to Crown Reserve. People fishing Crown Reserve and elsewhere should be prepared for downed trees on trails and roads. Saws and hatchets are a must for those travelling the back roads!”
On the Miramichi, they are still reeling from Arthur’s visit after they were hit much harder than expected. On Tuesday, Norma Brennan from Curtis Outfitters in Blackville said that while they have power in Blackville, Doaktown does not. She says the river was up to near spring-like levels but is coming down and clearing—it no longer looks like chocolate milk! Water temps are cooler, which is a good thing, and anglers are back on the river while exercising caution as the water is still fast moving. Norma says they got hit pretty hard and have thousands of trees down.
Speaking of getting hard hit, Dan Turner tells quite a harrowing tale of survival. He posted the following on the ASF facebook page on Tuesday: “We were in at Slate Island Lodge during the storm and it took 7 of us 16 hours to cut the trees over the 30km road to get out to the Gordonvale gate in Boiestown. River was chocolate brown and over 40 full trees washed by the lodge on Sunday. Bug bitten and exhausted but alive! Hats off to John and Winston our amazing guides for getting the family out safe and sound!”
David LeBlanc reported on Wednesday that river levels are above average because of Arthur. The Upsalquitch was the most affected with a raise of 1.6 metres in 48 hours. Many full length trees were seen going down. Water turbidity was high causing a few days lost fishing. Although the raising of water levels caused some problems, it was a relief for anglers because water levels were getting low and temperatures high last week.
In general, from fishing lodge reports, catches are between half to one-third of the catches of last year. The grilse run has started, but in low numbers and some are reported to be very small. This higher water seems to help with catches in the last two days increasing.
Report from Don Ivany, ASF Director of Newfoundland and Labrador Programs:
On Tuesday, Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced that the Conne River will remain closed and will not re-open to angling for the remainder of the 2014 season. A notice from DFO says that the fishery closed on July 5 for an in-season review, as per the management plan. Based on the review, the river will remain closed.
Meanwhile, the DFO Counting fence results are now out up to June 29th and runs are still way down from last year and previous years. It seems the only bright spot was Western Arm Brook on the Northern Peninsula. However, we have been receiving reports that things have started to pick up on the Northern Peninsula during the week of June 30-July 04. Fish were being caught at Main Brook (Salmon Brook) near Roddicton according to a guest who stayed at the Tuckamore Lodge that week. Late in the week, there was a good sign of fish on Torrent River, and River of Ponds, where water levels and water temperatures were good. Big East also had a few fish.
We have heard that there was good fishing on the Humber River at Big Falls and Little Falls, particularly during the last week of June, and water levels were perfect if not a little high. Things have since slowed though as water levels have receded and water temperatures have risen to 20 C plus. There are also reports of a few fish on Lomond River, but not what it should be.
The Exploits River returns are seriously low compared to the same time frame for last year and the previous five year average. This is worrisome to say the least.
According to Dwight Lethbridge who owns the Pratt Falls Lodge and maintains his own web site, there are now fish on the Eagle River, many of which are large (15lb range) with at least one fish hooked that was estimated to be between 25-30 lbs. Water levels are on the high side still and things are picking up.
Jim Burton of Flowers River Lodge, reports on his web site that there is a good sign of large fish in the river and, in fact, they seem to be a little earlier than usual despite all the heavy ice conditions that persisted this year. In fact, they have been catching fish since mid -June which is the earliest on record. Again many of these fish are large in the 10-25 lb range. Once again, the good reports from this river, where there is a catch and release only policy, is in contrast with relatively poor reports from many other rivers in the province, and is testimony that catch and release really works. Jim also reports that their research tagging program is going well and they have successfully tagged a fair number of fish already.
As mentioned earlier, the latest statistics from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) regarding salmon returns to Newfoundland and Labrador (from their counting facilities) are now available up to June 29th. The returns are very low this year when compared with last year and previous years. While ice conditions may have delayed salmon migrations this year by a week or two, it still looks like this year’s returns are going to be much lower than last year and previous years. It’s not looking good at the moment. It would appear, at this time, that there are other factors than just ice conditions affecting the returns this year.
SPAWN President Keith Cormier passes along the following report for the Humber River: “Fished Mistaken Point today (July 08) with number one son. Very heavy rain for about six hours. We had great sport. We saw quite a few fish. Also heard that today Big Falls was hopping! Lots of fish hooked.
Also, Lester Butt, a long time guide on the Forteau and Pinware rivers in Southern Labrador reports as of Tuesday, that there are very few fish on the Pinware River and water levels are very high. He says there’s an odd fish on the Forteau River, but so far not very many.
SCNL President Don Hutchens reports that he and his two fishing partners hooked 11 fish last week in the Bay St. George Rivers including one fish which was 11 lbs.
Click the link to view the latest numbers: http://www.nfl.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/nl/salmoncounts
Report from Lewis Hinks, ASF Director of Programs for Nova Scotia:
While it appears that the Margaree River is picking up a bit, reports claim that the North River is fishing poorly. There wasn’t a huge amount of rain in Nova Scotia from Arthur, mostly wind, but enough rain to freshen the rivers and cool them off a bit—not a bad thing at all.
The river came up over the weekend, not a lot, but good water, and a number of bright fish were seen at the mouth of the river and showing in the lower part of the river. NSSA President Rene Aucoin, a Cheticamp resident, thinks that maybe the fish are finally coming.
The current count for the Sackville River fishway as of July 6, 2014 is:
2 salmon, 6 grilse
On the Lahave, as of July 7, the count was 19 salmon and 31 grilse
For the latest cumulative counts to date of salmon in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (as of June 30) click here:
For the latest cumulative counts to date of Grilse (as of June 30) click here:
Report from Charles Cusson, ASF Director of Programs for Quebec:
With all rivers in operation now, a few signs of new fish along with important boosts of water (thanks to Tropical Storm Arthur) will give us a definitive outlook for the rest of the season.
Reminder for all anglers in Québec: Please register your releases. This data is very important in the calculation of the success rate of rivers, and the number of unreported releases is a concern for all river management groups. The number of reported releases has risen considerably since 1997 when only a few hundred were registered in comparison to 9,134 in 2013.
As of July 7 2014 for the season, 78 salmon have been reported released and 44 grilse killed. The flow jumped considerably over the weekend because of Arthur, from 45 to 110 cubic meters per second during a period of 24 hours on July 5.
To date in 2013, 422 salmon had been reported released and 52 grilse killed.
As of July 7, 2014 for the season, 70 fish (60 salmon and 10 grilse); the fishway was not in operation during the peak of Arthur’s visit to the area.
The closest comparative is as of July 11, 2013, 842 fish (755 salmon and 87 grilse) had migrated upstream. At July 12, 2012, 406 fish (344 salmon and 72 grilse), in 2011, 390 (331 salmon and 59 grilse).
Aux Rochers River
To July 7, 2014, 70 fish ( 51 salmon and 19 grilse) have migrated to the trap for relocation up stream. To July 11, 2013, 333 fish had entered the counting facility.
As of July 7, 2014, 46 salmon and 1 grilse were released, 9 grilse have been retained for a total of 57 fish landed. At July 11, 2013, a total of 149 fish had been landed (125 salmon released, 2 grilse released, 4 salmon retained and 18 retained grilse).
During the period of July 1 to 7, 2014, the river was flowing between 35 and 44 cubic meters per second, anglers landed 76 fish (including 20 released). For the same period in 2013, the river flowing at 43 cubic meters per second, anglers landed 75 fish (including 8 releases). The reported numbers to date for the 2014 season are 301 fish landed (including 51 releases). The long range forecast (14 days) is calling for seasonal temperatures but not much rain.
The total reported numbers to date in 2013 were 475 fish landed (including 50 releases).
From July 1 to July 7, 2014, anglers landed 9 fish (no reported releases), during the same period in 2013, anglers landed 10 fish (no reported releases). The reported numbers to date for the 2014 season are 142 fish landed (including 7 releases). To date in 2013, 159 fish had been reported landed (including 20 releases).
As of July 7, 2014, 149 fish (144 salmon and 5 grilse) have migrated through the counting facility. To date in 2013, 467 fish (439 salmon and 28 grilse) had migrated though the counting facility. To date in 2014, 8 salmon have been reported landed. As of July 7, 2013, 99 fish (86 salmon and 13 grilse) were reported landed.
Darlene Sexton, Manager of the Cascapedia Society, reports the following for the first quarter of the 2014 season.
To June 30, 2014, 485 (475 salmon and 10 grilse) were landed and released.
To June 30, 2013, 763 (752 salmon and 11 grilse) were landed and released.
To June 30, 2012, 555 (548 salmon and 5 grilse) were landed and released plus 2 grilse were retained.
To June 30, 2011, 998 (953 salmon and 41 grilse) were landed and released plus 4 grilse retained.
To June 30, 2010, 379 (369 salmon and 10 grilse) were landed and released.
Report from John Burrows, ASF Director of Programs for New England:
67 salmon, 6 grilse on Penobscot (as of end of June).
7 salmon on Kennebec
Click the following link to compare numbers and track returns this season:
***For the latest from the ASF Research Team click on this link to find out how they prepared for the arrival of Tropical Storm Arthur in Graham Chafe’s blog Research-In the field: