Watch a Salmon, Watch the River

Release of grilse SW Miramichi

Andy Miller releases a grilse on the Southwest Miramichi on Sept. 12, 2015. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Any individual who loves watching wild Atlantic salmon will also appreciate clean clear-flowing rivers. And as the world changes so fast around us, that appreciation becomes deeper. And that appreciation felt by each of you is the force that will see those rivers keep their character.

We cannot take the salmon streams for granted, and even in the great northeast of North America it will be our sensitivity that pushes back against the occasional call for more dams, more ill-considered development and fewer government dollars to spend on the conservation end of the scales.

Take great photographs. Share them with others – images that highlight the power of the salmon in the water, not out of its element. Let others see what you do. Great photographs have the power to persuade in ways nothing else can.

The Atlantic salmon is precious. Just watching Andy Miller (above) release this grilse on the Southwest Miramichi reminds all of us how far across oceans and up the river that particular fish has come, as it strives to fulfill its destiny of reaching the headwaters of a forested Miramichi stream. Give it a hand on the way, this year, next year, and the ones beyond that. Forever.

Notes from the River

New Brunswick

Waiting for Atlantic salmon at Maple Island on the Southwest Miramichi, Sun., Sept. 13, 2015. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

Waiting for Atlantic salmon at Maple Island on the Southwest Miramichi, Sun., Sept. 13, 2015. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

Nathan Wilbur, ASF’s Director of New Brunswick Programs has been out on the rivers in the past week.

From reports along the SW Miramichi, fishing was fantastic over the weekend. A group of anglers on Friday during the pouring rain hooked 15 salmon. Anglers at a nearby outfitter hooked in the range of 20 fish on Friday evening. Saturday was much the same, the salmon were very active and eager to go after a fly.

Two anglers reported raising 17 salmon in the morning alone. Either word spread fast or people (including myself) were waiting for great water conditions to get out fishing after a month of poor conditions. Fishing slowed by Monday, but the odd salmon was still being hooked.

I couldn’t help but notice the many young anglers on the water over the weekend and on Monday at several of the public pools. All were vibrant with fishing stories and enthusiastic to be on the water. This is encouraging to see.

Southwest Miramichi in Boiestown, on Monday. Nice water levels for an early autumn day. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Southwest Miramichi in Boiestown, on Monday. Nice water levels for an early autumn day. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

At the Dungarvon Counting Fence on the SW Miramichi the count continues to rise slowly, with 157 grilse and 150 large salmon to Sept 13, totalling 307, compared with 77 grilse and 58 large salmon, totalling 135 for 2014 to the same date.

Better numbers in 2015, but still very low.

Dungarvon, early Autumn

On Sun., Sept. 13, 2015 the Dungarvon was a special place to connect with the river, and watch for the salmon in the pool. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

At the NW Miramichi Barrier the numbers are finally picking up. In the week to Sept. 13 there were 24 grilse and 6 large salmon. Thus to that date in total, there were 214 grilse and 70 large salmon, providing a grand total of 284. Still not so grand. In 2014 there were 145 grilse and 56 large salmon to the same date. Numbers need improvement here too.

The grilse about to head off upstream. Andy Miller releases it this past weekend on the Southwest Miramichi. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

The grilse about to head off upstream. Andy Miller releases it this past weekend on the Southwest Miramichi. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Adding perspective, the graph below could almost plot anglers’ optimism with the rise in water levels.

Water levels bring smiles to salmon anglers this week.

Water levels bring smiles to salmon anglers this week.

Restigouche

Province-wide heavy rains on Friday gave the rivers, and the salmon, what they needed. The Restigouche only showed a moderate raise of 8-10 cm, but the water level on the Miramichi rivers raised much more. The Southwest Miramichi came up 1.3 m over the weekend and has dropped 0.8 m to a perfect fishable level. The Little Southwest Miramichi at Lyttleton received a 0.5 m raise in water and dropped 0.3 m. The Northwest Miramichi came up 0.6 m at Trout Brook and then dropped 0.3 m. The rivers also showed a second bump in water level after rains on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Upsalquitch water levels as of Monday of this week.

Upsalquitch water levels as of Monday of this week.

Jacquet River – The numbers for the week ending Sept. 13 remain far below 2014 counts. There were 57 grilse and 20 large salmon, exactly the same as the previous week. No new salmon. In 2014, the comparable count was 54 grilse and 56 large salmon.

Bay of Fundy

The Hammond on Monday, Sept. 13. Traditionally the Hammond River is a late-run river, and everyone hopes that a redd count will in late autumn provide a better idea of the year's success. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

The Hammond on Monday, Sept. 13. Traditionally the Hammond River is a late-run river, and everyone hopes that a redd count will in late autumn provide a better idea of the year’s success. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF

Nova Scotia

A recent misty morning on the Margaree as a salmon leaps. Almost mystical. Photo Bill Haley

A recent misty morning on the Margaree as a salmon leaps. Almost mystical. Photo Bill Haley

Margaree

Bill Haley wrote on Wednesday:

We had 50 mm rain the past weekend and 10 mm rain last night. Today, the North East Margaree is 14 degrees C., up a few inches and tea-coloured. There seems to be salmon in most pools, mostly large females. Some early males are being caught.

Greg Lovely also wrote on Wednesday:

River levels are good after yesterdays rain, and there are salmon being hooked. The salmon season on other rivers in the area, will soon be open,which will hopefully spread the fishermen out. Here’s hoping the Northumberland rivers and other Cape Breton rivers have good numbers in the “fall run”.

Alex Breckenridge has noted the success seen on the river in the past week. One angler had a 20-pounder on the line at the Forks on Monday. Recent rain has helped keep the water levels up. Also fish found at Cemetery Pool and Snag.

All anglers need to take care with the lightning associated with some of these storms passing through, of course.

Northeast Branch Margaree, Sept. 16, 2015

Northeast Branch Margaree, Sept. 16, 2015

Quebec

Charles Cusson on salmon in Quebec this week:

Many rivers are still open to angling until September 30 and conditions have improved on some streams blessed with recent precipitation. Cooler weather and great fall colours make a great combination to entice anglers to get another few days before the long sleep. Just a quick reminder, during the release process please keep the fish in the water. See 2015 Autumn Atlantic Salmon Journal article by Paul Smith “Eyes on the Bride” for good live release photo practices.

This week the ASF Rivernotes is using a table format for better comparing the situation over several years in the Quebec salmon rivers.

Rimouski and Matane Statistics

Matapedia & Mitis Counts

Madeleine Count

Newfoundland

Gander – There are still good fishing reports, even though the water levels are low. Several reports are indeed quite positive.

Exploits – Don Ivany notes not seeing anyone fishing the Exploits in a few locations he visited in the past few days.

Humber – Water levels are perhaps a bit on the high side, and few reports of anglers.

These are now the only three rivers open in Newfoundland.

Maine

The only activity has been one more salmon going through the Milford Fish Lift, giving an unofficial total to date of 727 salmon and grilse. This is almost three times the count last year.

 

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One Response to Watch a Salmon, Watch the River

  1. Chris Manuel says:

    Corner Brook stream had its Gretzky fish (99th), 10lb’er pass through the counter yesterday morning. Monitoring will continue for another week or so.

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