A Fall Run on the Southwest Miramichi

It is time to sharpen the pencils, dig out a stray notebook from under the clutter of your desk, plus perhaps open Excel on your computer, and crunch some numbers.

New Brunswick

Southwest Miramichi

New numbers have come in regarding the Miramichi.

Most interesting were the Millerton Trap numbers from Sept. 30, especially when compared to both last year, and to the numbers for Sept. 15 of this year.

To begin, the Sept. 30 count at Millerton was 631 grilse and 426 large salmon. Compared with 443 grilse and 358 large salmon last year.

Thus the grilse numbers were up by 46% over last year at Millerton

More interesting is the influx of grilse and large salmon this year. The Sept. 15 numbers were 379 grilse and 289 large salmon.

Thus there were 252 grilse counted at the trap over that 15 day span, meaning 16.8 grilse per day in the trapnet.

It also means that 40% of the grilse count for the year, up to Sept. 30, was in that roughly two-week period in the last half of September.

For large salmon, 137 came into the trap in the last half of September, or 9.1 large salmon per day. Plus this constituted 32% of the 2014 numbers, up to Sept. 30.

Does all of this constitute a significant fall run of salmon for the Southwest Miramichi at least? It appears the answer is a profound “yes”, as long as one calls the last half of September part of the fall season.

Looking at the graph provides another, more sobering perspective. The numbers of grilse and salmon may have come up significantly, but when compared over the past generation, the low return is sobering. Some combination of predation that includes striped bass in the estuaries and some predators at sea, plus perhaps winter survival conditions is impacting the numbers for the Southwest.

Count of grilse numbers at the Millerton Trap through the past generation.

Count of grilse numbers at the Millerton Trap through the past generation.

What do the Dungarvon Barrier numbers have to say about the state of runs? Not too much. The latest numbers, from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5 are just in and there were 4 grilse and 3 large salmon in that period. As a reminder, seasonal totals are not reliable this year for the Dungarvon Barrier, with it out of commission for more than two weeks due to Tropical Storm Arthur in July.

The histogram for large salmon at the Millerton Trapnet reflects the same situation as that of grilse.

Large salmon numbers at the Millerton Trapnet on the Southwest Miramichi as of Sept. 30, 2014

Large salmon numbers at the Millerton Trapnet on the Southwest Miramichi as of Sept. 30, 2014

Little Southwest and Northwest Miramichi

The other facility of note is the Cassilis Trapnet, located on the south bank of the Little Southwest Miramichi a few kilometres upstream from the Miramichi Salmon Conservation Centre.

The Cassilis Trapnet numbers are just not there this year. To Sept. 30 there were 89 grilse and 73 large salmon counted, compared with 379 grilse and 181 large salmon last year to that date.

Cassilis is not showing this year any real sign of a fall run. The Sept. 15 figures were 71 grilse and 58 large salmon.

Thus the facility counted 18 grilse over the 15 days, which was 1.2 grilse per day. The segment of the run from Sept. 15 to Sept. 30 constituted 20% of the grilse return, not enough to say there was a major Fall run. Do remember that there were actually more fish entering the Little Southwest and Northwest symbol at this time.

As to large salmon, the Cassilis Trapnet had 15 large salmon in that 15 day period, so an average of one per day. It constitutes about 21% of the large salmon returns for the year, again constituting a comparatively week fall run – so far.

Meanwhile the Northwest Barrier numbers were encouraging this week, the Sept. 29 to Oct. 5. There were 8 grilse and 5 large salmon – 13 for the week. Numbers are down year over year however – 155 grilse and 61 large salmon in 2014 vs 191 grilse and 220 in 2013.

On the actual fishing, it has been improving in the past few weeks. Water levels were low, but a nice big rainfall on Oct. 6 and 7 made a big difference, and it looks as if more might be falling on Oct. 8 and 9.

Howard Gould releases a nice salmon as the water rose on the Little Southwest and Northwest Miramichi. Photo Upper Oxbow Adventures

Howard Gould releases a nice salmon as the water rose on the Little Southwest and Northwest Miramichi. Photo Upper Oxbow Outdoor  Adventures

Hopefully this will encourage another surge of Atlantic salmon into the river, and will almost certainly result in more salmon that have been holding in the lower river to move upstream. This should be true of the Southwest, Little Southwest and Northwest Miramichi.

Nice rain on the weekend for the Little Southwest Miramichi.

Nice rain on the weekend for the Little Southwest Miramichi.

Two major statements on the Little Southwest and Northwest Miramichi are evident: live release is essential for the future of these rivers, and the pressure from striped bass predation needs to be addressed in a more comprehensive way.

Nova Scotia

Northumberland Strait rivers – Unfortunately a picture is worth 1,000 words when it comes to near-drought conditions. The photo below was taken on Wednesday, showing that these rivers are still in need of heavy rain. Predictions are for only small amounts of rain to hit this area.

The theme this fall has been of low water on the Northumberland Strait rivers. This was taken Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2014. Photo: Lewis Hinks

The theme this fall has been of low water on the Northumberland Strait rivers. This was taken Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2014. Photo: Lewis Hinks

Margaree – Water levels continued to drop on Wed, but stabilized somewhat on Thursday morning. A few good soakings are needed, and it doesn’t look like that is going to happen for the next week. Still, the photo below, taken 7:40 am on Thurs. Oct. 9, shows how magical the Margaree can be this time of year. Plus, the water level does not look all that low…

Northeast Margaree River, taken Thurs., Oct. 9 at 7:40 am

Northeast Margaree River, taken Thurs., Oct. 9 at 7:40 am

nw-marg-levelQuebec

While the salmon angling is over, considerable rain throughout the lower St. Lawrence and Gaspe regions should keep the salmon happy, which is, after all, very important.

We are still awaiting year-end numbers from the Cascapedia.

Peter Bennett released 21 and 24 pounders at Forks Pool on  the Grand Cascapedia the last week in September.

Joe Coletta releases a gorgeous Atlantic salmon on the Cascapedia near the end of September.

Maine

Rain fell on the weekend. The river levels were low, and more rain would be appreciated as spawning season comes closer.

Remember the Photo Contest

liverelease1ASF’s “In the Water” Live Release Photo Contest has generated many entries so far, and we invite all of you to submit your entries. Remember that the salmon being released needs to actually be in the water.

This entry was posted in Salmon Runs. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Fall Run on the Southwest Miramichi

  1. Edmund Belak says:

    Could you please give a re cap of Scottish, Icelandic, Norwegian , Russian and European rivers please?

    Thank you,
    Ed Belak

  2. Evelock Gilks says:

    Amazing numbers at the Millerton trap. Very hard to understand as the fish never made it to the Blissfield/Doaktown area.
    The Miramichi Salmon Club closed last week even though some guides are still working for others, still no fish here.
    I’ve talked to all the other clubs in the area, same thing, no fish.
    Where are they going, are they coming in and out with the tides and being counted over and over, makes no sense at all.
    The Cains must be full to the brim if they all went there.

    • admin says:

      The numbers are interesting, and I have no particular sense as to where they are going – except for the comments a week ago about the Cains. While it is possible a few are recirculating back down river, I don’t believe that is significant.

      It would be good to get an assessment of the look of the salmon that are being counted at Millerton.

      Tom Moffatt

Comments are closed.