Saving Atlantic Salmon Rivers, Many Projects at a Time

On Aug. 27 Lewis Hinks,  ASF’s Director of Nova Scotia Programs, watched heavy equipment rearranging boulders in the Cheticamp River in order to narrow the channel and improve passage for wild Atlantic salmon. At times in the past several years low water has actually shut out salmon from ascending this important salmon river on the west side of Cape Breton Island.

Restoration of the Cheticamp River includes deepening and narrowing the channel in several places to allow better salmon passage. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

Restoration of the Cheticamp River includes deepening and narrowing the channel in several places to allow better salmon passage. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

This work would not be taking place without a grant from the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation (ASCF) to help make it happen. The ASCF has increasingly found ways to make partnerships happen to benefit wild Atlantic salmon.

The number of projects supported gives one measure of its importance:

  • 2012       29 projects
  • 2013       38 projects
  • 2014       53 projects

Since the ASCF began operations in 2008, a total of 211 projects have received funding.

The ASCF has blossomed in the past few years, and their Fund is doing extremely well, with its investments far above the ASCF’s market target. That has allowed the foundation to both increase the size of grants to a limit of $100,000, and to be handing out a total of more than $1M in 2015. For those with potential projects, keep in mind that the deadline is Dec. 19, 2014.

If you have a salmon restoration idea that will benefit wild Atlantic salmon, and you can work with an existing conservation organization in Atlantic Canada or Quebec, focus your organizing skills, and then go to the ASCF website for an application form. This is yet another way you can make a difference to wild Atlantic salmon, and contribute to its future.

Notes from the Rivers

Quebec

Note: Charles Cusson, ASF’s Director of Quebec Programs, is writing this week’s Quebec section of the ASF RIVERNOTES from the Matapedia River valley.

Recent precipitation in salmon country will continue the overall good angling conditions as we reach the ¾ pole in the 2014 season.

Pierre Vezina Landed a 14 pounder at Edgar Cyr on the Bonaventure.

Pierre Vezina Landed a 14 pounder at Edgar Cyr on the Bonaventure.

Matapedia River
As of August 31 for the 2014 season, 872 have been reported landed including 225 released.

To August 31, 2013    1,216 fish, including 142 releases.
To August 31 2012     763 fish including 55 releases
To August 31 2011    1,989 including 279 releases
To August 31 2010    1,236 including 157 releases
To August 31 2009    1,112 including 111 releases
To August 31 2008    1,409 including 213 releases
To August 31 2007    993 including 106 releases
To August 31 2006    1,330 including 161 releases

The breakdown of salmon-grilse numbers is not available until the official 2014 report is released in early 2015.

Mitis River
It has been a challenging year for salmon anglers on the Mitis, to say the least.  At August 31, 463 fish have been counted (264 salmon and 199 grilse) in total for the season.

At August 31 2013, 651 salmon and 353 grilse had been counted for a total of 1,004.  In 2012 at the same date, 918 fish (560 salmon and 358 grilse) had been counted.

There were 42 fish in total reported landed to August 31, 37 grilse killed, 4 salmon killed and 23 salmon released). At the comparative date in 2013, captures were reported to be 276 (27 salmon released, 118 salmon and 131 grilse reported deceased).  The reported captures at the same date in 2012 were reported at 259 (22 salmon released, 101 salmon and 136 grilse deceased).

Bonaventure
This season, to August 31, the crystal blue green waters of the “Bonnie” has produced the following:

There have been 908 landed (483 salmon released and 425 grilse killed).  At the same date in 2013, 1,090 fish had been landed of which 915 salmon were released and 175 grilse were retained.  At the same date in 2012, 973 fish had been landed, 693 salmon released and 280 grilse retained.

Mike Daly releases a grilse in the mist at Upper Limestone Pool on the Grand Cascapedia.

Mike Daly releases a grilse in the mist at Upper Limestone Pool on the Grand Cascapedia.

There is nothing quite like the exhilaration of releasing a large salmon, and watching it swim away, healthy.

There is nothing quite like the exhilaration of releasing a large salmon, and watching it swim away, healthy.

Madeleine River
The most recent available data reports as of August 11 2014, 477 fish have been counted migrating through the fishway (271 salmon and 209 grilse).

As of August 29 2013, the Madeleine River Zec reported a total of 1,258 (1,012 salmon and 246 grilse) had been counted through the counting facility.

Rimouski River
To August 31 for the season, 182 salmon and 119 grilse have been counted for a total of 301.  As of August 31 2013, 514 fish had been counted (320 salmon and 194 grilse), and to the same date in 2012 there were 385 (179 salmon and 206 grilse).

Catches to August 31 include 26 salmon released and 20 grilse retained.  At the same date in 2013,  87 released salmon and 49 retained grilse were reported for a total of 136.

Matane River
For the season at August 31, 1.252 fish have migrated through the fishway (660 salmon and 592 grilse).

To August 31 2013, 1,585 salmon and 583 grilse had been counted totalling 2,167 fish.  To the comparative date in 2012 for the season, 2,026 (999 salmon and 1,027) grilse had migrated through the counting facility.

For the season, 243 have been reported landed (38 salmon and 205 grilse killed) in addition to 57 salmon and 10 grilse released).

To the same date in 2013 626 fish (384 salmon and 242 grilse) were reported landed., while in 2012 a total of 742 fish had been reported landed (318 salmon and 424 grilse).

Mike Harper landed a 15 lb. salmon at Captain Pool on the B Sector of the Grand Cascapedia on Aug. 28, 2014.

Mike Harper landed a 15 lb. salmon at Captain Pool on the  Grand Cascapedia on Aug. 28, 2014.

Newfoundland

Avalon Peninsula RiversPaul Smith emailed with this assessment of these small rivers in 2014:

Generally a very poor year.  The fish were late for a start. Then July was scorching hot and dry. Most of the rivers were closed. Since August came, there’s been lots of rain and some think the fish barreled through. I think July was the hottest ever seen around here.  It’s bad on these small Avalon Peninsula Rivers.

Exploits – Fred Parsons is reporting the numbers coming in have dropped to 20 or 30 per day, and as of Tuesday there were 29,300 returned, vs about 33,047 last year. That means a drop of about 11% over last year.

The official Aug. 31 counts have just gone up this morning, and are below. West coast rivers and those up the Northern Peninsula appear to still be ahead of last year; but the south coast rivers, as represented by the Conne, have had returns low enough to be of grave concern. CLICK THE IMAGE FOR A LARGER, MORE READABLE VERSION.

Newfoundland counts to Aug. 31, 2014

Newfoundland counts to Aug. 31, 2014

Gander River – Reports are of very low water and slow action.

Harry’s River – A report from this past week noted that while the water level was somewhat down from perfect condtions there were fish and they were active.

DIDSON Monitors in Trailer, near Harry's River

DIDSON Monitors in Trailer, near Harry’s River

One report from an angler on Spawn’s website tells the tale:

“WATER LEVEL ABOUT 18″ LOWER THAN I LIKE IT. TWO OTHER FISHERMAN THERE BUT THEY HAD MOVED DOWN TO LINE POOL. LOTS OF FISH SHOWING. A NICE BREEZE ON CREATING WAVES DOWN THE POOL. I TAGGED A NICE HEN AND RELEASED TWO HOOKBILLS AND HOOKED ANOTHER AND ROSE TWO MORE. GOT THERE AT NOON AND BACK HOME AT 2:30 P.M.. THREE BIG LOONS JUST OUT FROM THE POOL. A GREAT COUPLE OF HOURS.

Humber – There are reports of microgrilse showing up near Big Falls, some of them only 1 ½ lb. or less. Otherwise, accounts of angling activity are slow.

Big Falls - Humber Leaper - not every leaper is a perfect, graceful image

Big Falls – Humber Leaper – not every leaper is a perfect, graceful image

Torrent River – The numbers through now stand at 4,060, as of Tuesday, notes the Torrent River Interpretive Centre, and that is 900 more than last year. Beautiful sunny conditions on Tuesday, with good water should encourage some to be out, even if things are winding down.

Water temperatures are about 16 C., down from 20+ C. in recent weeks.

Labrador

Overall there appears to be a trend of fewer large salmon this year and more grilse. But the assessment rivers in Labrador likely do not do a great job of representing the remaining many rivers.

Sand Hill River – To Aug. 31 there were 1,813 grilse and 585 large salmon counted, totalling 2,398. In 2013 to the same date there were 1,662 grilse and 1,267 large salmon totalling 2,889 – so results are down overall in 2014.

English River – To Aug. 31 there have been 821 grilse and 177 large salmon totalling 998, significantly better than 2013’s 443 grilse and 145 large salmon (totalling 588).

Muddy Bay Brook – Here the total for 2014 includes 152 grilse and 21 large salmon, vs. 296 grilse and 36 large in 2013. The 2014 results  somewhat below the previous 5-year average of 290 grilse and 21 large salmon.

Paradise River – The Aug. 31 results are 182 grilse and 38 large salmon. In 2013 there were 79 grilse and 63 large salmon.

Nova Scotia

Margaree – Rain fell late last week, bringing up the water to fishable levels.

Boulder moving on the Cheticamp River, a stream  where flows vary almost daily due to the steep, entrenched valley. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

Boulder moving on the Cheticamp River, a stream where flows vary almost daily due to the steep, entrenched valley. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

Northumberland Strait Rivers – The season began Sept. 1, but water levels had been low. That was somewhat remedied by considerable rain on Monday night, but since then we have not had reports from the rivers.

Water levels on the Middle River - Pictou this week - a river typlical of those flowing into Northumberland Strait.

Water levels on the Middle River – Pictou this week – a river typlical of those flowing into Northumberland Strait.

LaHave – The last count, as of Aug. 27, was 21 salmon and 42 grilse. The numbers for Aug. 31 in 2013 were 104 large salmon and 74 grilse. As with most of the southern rivers, returns continue at or below historic lows.

New Brunswick

Little SW Miramichi & NW Miramichi – Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures notes:

“We continue to catch fish, hoping for the fall run in a week or two. Water levels are good, but down somewhat on the Northwest Miramichi. People are finding both grilse and large salmon.”

“The best time of the year to fish is coming up. The trees will be gaining their fall colours, and the river is at its best.”

The Aug. 31 count for the NW Miramichi barrier is just in. It is 138 grilse and 56 large salmon. The 2013 numbers to this date were 155 grilse and 200 large salmon.

Casting on the Sevogle.

Casting on the Sevogle.

Southwest Miramichi – Keith Wilson is noting that it still takes some effort to find the salmon, but there is a breath of autumn in the air – with hopes for a good fall run. He adds:

“Still slow fishing for sure but after the burst of fresh fish last week into the system we are hopeful that our fall run will finish off the season on a high note . Remember folks , the poor fishing of 2014 should be a reminder to us all just how important it is to release all of your salmon.”

The Dungarvon Barrier count is just now available for Aug. 31. It is 72 grilse and 57 large salmon. In 2013 to the same date the count was 192 grilse and 225 large salmon.

Renous – George Rutledge notes there are a few salmon moving upstream now, but “they aren’t stopping.” He notes that water levels are good, and water temperatures are starting to drop nicely.

Saint John River – The Aug. 31 counts are posted, and Mactaquac has counted only 126 grilse and 66 large salmon. Similarly low numbers in 2013 were counted, with 273 grilse and 111 large salmon.  For comparison the 1996 to 2000 numbers, very depressed even then, were 3,495 grilse and 1,359 large salmon.

Nashwaak River – The Aug. 31 count is 46 grilse and 15 large salmon. In 2013 there were 54 grilse and 33 large salmon. The average 1996 to 2000 was 306 grilse and 99 large salmon.

Jacquet River – As of Aug. 31 there were 36 grilse and 44 large salmon, far below last year’s count of 114 grilse and 112 large salmon to the same date.

Restigouche – David LeBlanc of the Restigouche Watershed Council notes:
“Camps are mostly closed now, and salmon numbers have remained low. There are still seals on the river, with one recent sighting around 10 km upstream from the Matapedia/Restigouche junction, and a few more downstream in the Restigouche. The water level is good, but the main thing has been the low numbers returning.”

Maine

Penobscot – As of Aug. 28 there have been 175 large salmon and 79 grilse at the Milford Fish Lift, which is close to the historically low record.

This is the site of the former Great Works Dam, removed as part of the Penobscot Restoration Project, opening new spawning habitat to Atlantic salmon and other species.

This is the site of the former Great Works Dam, removed as part of the Penobscot Restoration Project, opening new spawning habitat to Atlantic salmon and other species.

Kennebec – As of Aug 28, there have been 16 large salmon and 2 grilse at the Lockwood Dam.

The Saco and Androscoggin have each had 3 large salmon, while Downeast, the Pleasant has had 1 large salmon and 2 grilse. The Narraguagus has had 2 large salmon.

On the Saint John River system, the Aroostook has had 1 large salmon.

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One Response to Saving Atlantic Salmon Rivers, Many Projects at a Time

  1. JC Cormier says:

    Are you guys aware of what the Hammond River Angling Association is doing? We’re doing a flood plain restoration project, reclaiming a farming field and turning it back into what it used to be. Ask Geoff Giffin about it.

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