Something Mystical about Salmon in the Fall

Matapedia River, October - photo Charles Cusson

Matapedia River, October – photo Charles Cusson

There is something mystical about Atlantic salmon in the fall season. Quiet, crisp mornings with trees turning red and orange, and then a swirl breaks the surface of a pool. Or perhaps it is a cool morning wth the promise that the mist will lift as the day warms. Everyone knows the Atlantic salmon are stirring, preferring these cooler water temperatures and waiting for some nice wet day to move on upstream towards spawning beds.

Once October hits, the feeling is certainly in the air that the Atlantic salmon’s schedule is getting tighter, and the focus on moving up rapids, or from pool to pool towards headwaters is becoming urgent.

That is the magical moment of the senses we are in right now. We hear reports of more salmon jumping, and salmon are just waiting in those pools, irritable, and looking for the next excuse of rain and rising water to head upstream.

Maybe it has ever been this way. Many readers will know there is a full-sized carved salmon in a cave along the Vezere River in southwest France. It is not far from that great natural assemblage of prehistoric art at Lascaux. And the salmon is thought to be Solutrean culture, with the age now considered about 25,000 years ago. A few years ago it was considered to be 22,000 years old, but now the sculpture is considered older.

The salmon in Abri du Poisson says someone was fascinated by Atlantic salmon thousands of years ago.

The salmon in Abri du Poisson says someone was fascinated by Atlantic salmon thousands of years ago.

While it is a guess, perhaps that sculpture was carved in October of a season so long ago, when Atlantic salmon were moving, mysteriously and almost mystically, to places upstream and beyond the hunting areas of those who lived in this part of the river.

That is something we can share – and understand.

River Notes

Quebec

In Quebec the season is now over, but the numbers should cause one to reflect that everything possible to boost numbers may be needed, since conditions at sea are so uncooperative. In the case of grilse, many rivers saw more than half the angled grilse killed by anglers.

Dan Greenberg landed a 22 lb at Frasers Pool on the Grand Cascapedia this week.

Dan Greenberg releases a 22 lb female salmon at Frasers Pool on the Grand Cascapedia this week.

Rimouski River
To Sept. 30 2014, total run is 384 fish (213 salmon and 171 grilse).
To Sept. 30 2013, 591 fish had been counted (347 salmon and 244 grilse)

Matane River
To Sept. 30 2014, the total run of fish counted is 1,447 (745 salmon and 702 grilse).
To Sept. 18 2013, 1,615 salmon and 596 grilse had migrated through the counting facility for a total of 2,210 fish.

Matapedia River
To Sept. 30 2014, the total reported catches is 985 including 306 releases.  Live release was imposed on August 1.
To Sept. 30 2013, the total reported catches was 1,325 including 173 releases.
The breakdown of salmon-grilse numbers is not available until the official 2014 report is released in early 2015.

Mitis River
To Sept. 24 2014, with a total run of 508 fish, the total number of reported catches is 57 including 32 releases.
To Sept. 30 2013, with a total run of 1,017 fish, the total number of reported catches was 281 including 39 releases.
The river is facing a drop of 50% over last year!

Bonaventure
To Sept. 30 2014, fishermen had angled  1,102 fish including 648 releases. (454 grilse killed)
To Sept.30 2013, fishermen had angled 1,250 fish including 1,064 releases.  (186 grilse killed)
Overall numbers are very close year over year, but, 2014 certainly was not a good year to be a grilse – nearly half the angled grilse were killed.

Cascapedia

Numbers are not yet available for the end of season.

DJ Tudino landed a 13 lb at Frasers Pool of the Grand Cascapedia in late Sept. 2014.

DJ Tudino landed a 13 lb at Frasers Pool of the Grand Cascapedia in late Sept. 2014.

York River
To Sept. 30 2014, 372 fish were reported angled (113 releases and 259 killed)
To Sept. 30 2013, 296 fish were reported angled (152 releases and 144 killed).
The in-river count was done on Sept. 16, a total of 646 fish (466 salmon and 180 grilse) were counted.  In 2013, 1,259 fish had been counted (1,110 salmon and 149 grilse).

Dartmouth River
To Sept. 30 2014, 157 fish were reported brought in (80 released and 77 killed).
To Sept. 30 2013, 202 fish had been reported brought to the water’s edge (141 releases and 61 killed).
The in-river count was done in mid-September, and a total of 538 fish were counted (395 salmon and 143 grilse).  The assessment done in Sept.2013 resulted in 1,061 fish being counted (913 salmon and 148 grilse).

St-Jean River

To Sept. 30 2014, 299 fish were reported angled for the season (140 releases and 159 killed).
To Sept. 30 2013, 166 fish had been reported for the season (67 releases and 99 killed).
The count was performed in mid-September revealing 431 fish (274* salmon and 157 grilse).  The 2013 count reported 813 fish (709 salmon and 104 grilse).
* This was the lowest number of salmon counted since the beginning of data collection in 1984.

Sainte-Anne River
To September 30 2014, 264 fish were reported angled (198 releases and 66 killed).
To September 30 2013, 359 fish had been reported angled (290 releases and 69 killed).

New Brunswick

Overall, it appears there was a pulse of Atlantic salmon come into the lower river, but this has not made its way too far up the Miramichi yet.

Southwest Miramichi – Word is that the Millerton Trap net had close to 20 salmon per day a little while back, but is now finding maybe 10 per day. Atlantic salmon are coming in, but many are waiting in pools for the rain to help them make that surge upstream. The Dungarvon Barrier had two grilse and one large salmon for the week ending Sept. 27

At Black Brook Camp below the Cains River, Southwest Miramichi. Photo Geoff Giffin

At Black Brook Camp below the Cains River, Southwest Miramichi. Photo Geoff Giffin

Someone who has noticed a nice increase of Atlantic salmon in the past 10 days is Byron Coughlin:

“We have been seeing lots of fish. But what we have noticed is that many of them have been coming up the Cains. We are seeing more large salmon than grilse, maybe in a ratio of three to one. Yesterday (Wednesday, Oct. 1) we had seven large salmon and one grilse.”

Byron also has some comments on the state of the water level.

“We can say the river is “fall low”, more the way it used to be, like 15 years ago. We’ve been spoiled by the higher water levels in the past five years. But the fish are there. From the Cains down to Black Rapids, you can see up to a hundred jumping in a day. But not so many going up the Southwest yet.”

As to the fishing as it has been earlier this year, overall:

“It was pretty bleak betimes, but it is good now.”

Derek Munn upriver at The Ledges notes the fishing is still slow, confirming a considerable number of the salmon coming in over the past couple of weeks remain in the lower river – with some in the Cains.

Northwest and Little Southwest Miramichi – Perhaps up to 10 salmon have been showing up daily in the Cassilis trapnet. Meanwhile, on the river the number of Atlantic salmon being angled has most definitely improved.

Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures notes:

“Everyone is seeing fish. But strangely, the ratio has been 3 to 1 in favour of grilse. Most are fairly new in the river, with sea lice still on them.

“Water levels are at fall low, of course, and the salmon like the cooler water we now have.”

Jeff Hall releases a nice salmon on Oct. 1. Photo: Upper Oxbow Adventures.

Jeff Hall releases a nice salmon on Oct. 1. Photo: Upper Oxbow Adventures.

Saint John River – To Sept. 30, there have been 126 grilse and 68 large salmon, compared with 286 grilse and 126 large salmon to the same date in 2013. These numbers pale into the critical zone when compared with the 1996-2000 average of 3,747 grilse and 1,535 large salmon. Meanwhile, discussions have been increasing on what to do with the deteriorating Mactaquac Dam. If one were a salmon, the answer would be easy.

Magaguadavic River – In the heart of southwest New Brunswick’s aquaculture industry, it should be no surprise that to date there have been 22 escaped farmed salmon – far more than the 6 grilse and 3 large salmon so far this year. Last year there were three grilse and three salmon to the same date.

Nashwaak River – To Sept. 30 there have been 46 grilse and 15 large salmon, compared with 54 grilse and 38 large salmon in 2013. This is another river greatly in need of a boost.

Jacquet River – To Sept. 30 there have been 56 grilse and 59 large salmon, compared with 142 grilse and 193 large salmon in 2013.

Nepisiguit River – When compared with some other rivers, the Nepisiguit is doing okay when compared with 2013 – just not so good in the long run. To Sept. 30 there were 140 grilse and 91 large salmon, compared with 75 grilse and 99 large salmon in 2013.

Nova Scotia

MargareeJohn Hart of the Margaree Salmon Association reports:

After the spate of water from a week ago, in Biblical parlance: “The waters have receded”..

There have been fresh fish showing at various parts of the river and the numbers of fish caught took a jump over the weekend. Of course these are from folks who fish alone with no witnesses. There seems to be less grumbling about numbers of late which may be attributed to any of a number of factors which includes the possibility that there ARE more fish being seen and hooked.

Pools which have seemed to start kicking out fish are Swimming Hole, Cemetery, Skye Lodge, Twin Elms to mention a few.

Seems the Dollar gave up a few over the weekend although the story is, not all were fairly hooked.

John Hart also talks about an Orvis Rod and Hardy Reel turned into roadkill:

Someone dropped a rod off their vehicle that was found on the road and has been run over more than once. An Orvis Trident, which has been crushed in at least 4 places, and a Hardy salmon reel that is also  DOA…

The rod is a 9 foot 9 weight Orvis Trident TL, with “50th Anniversary, Atlantic Salmon Federation, #32 of 50” just above the cork. I am sure the rod could be replaced under warranty. However, currently the only things salvageable in the outfit are the line, the backing, and the rod guides.

Northumberland Strait RiversGerry Doucet reports on the dry conditions:

Ten days ago, the Northumberland Strait Rivers in Nova Scotia received a good soaking that provided a significant rise in river levels. This was the only appreciable rain that occurred in September. Due to this dry period, the ground is very parched and the water soaked in quickly and rivers could not hold sustainable water levels for more than 3 days.

While this rain provided some angling opportunities for a few days, and spotty reports of fish angled in Antigonish, New Glasgow and Oxford, it did not last long. The rivers were low again by last weekend accompanied with summer temperatures reaching the high 20’s.

West River Antigonish, showing low water levels. Photo: Gerry Doucet

West River Antigonish, showing low water levels. Photo: Gerry Doucet

There is some rain in the forecast for the Northumberland Strait rivers for early next week and the evening temperatures are getting colder. Hopefully the combination of rain and tides pulls some more fish into the rivers.

LaHave – The numbers remain much as they have been: To Sept. 30 there have been 42 grilse and 21 large salmon, compared with 74 grilse and 109 large salmon in 2013.

Sackville River – To Sept 30 there have been 7 grilse and 3 salmon compared with 5 grilse and 3 salmon in 2013.

Newfoundland

Don Ivany, ASF’s Regional Director in Newfoundland notes that a friend had been fishing on the Gander River in the Glenwood area over the past couple of weeks. Water levels and temperatures had been excellent and the fishing reasonably good for this time of year – and consistent. There were more anglers than in past years on the river.

The Exploits River water level appears to be down somewhat. Ivany notes that he saw no one fishing.

 

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