If there has been a theme in river conditions this year, it is the lack of long dry, hot periods of drought. The rain comes, and in a few days there is more rain. It keeps temperatures
cool, and flows sufficient. For the Atlantic salmon that appear to have survived in greater numbers in the ocean, it is a freeway towards the spawning areas in headwater streams.
High water is not easy on the angler, but it helps the Atlantic salmon, so perhaps it is a good idea to be philosophical about it, on occasion. It may be especially so this weekend, on into Monday, as Hurricane Irene may have an impact. Take that philosophical outlook and think what this can do for angling in September.
Looking at the levels at Blackville on the SW Miramichi today illustrate the rule of 2010. Just when the water drops, it goes up again.
The latest Salmon Returns and Reports from the Rivers
DFO in Newfoundland deserves praise for keeping up its weekly counts of Atlantic salmon, although it would be nicer if it broke the site numbers into large salmon and grilse, just for those with a strong interest in it.
Exploits – Another 500 Atlantic salmon came in this week, giving us a total of 41,312 as of Monday, as opposed to 45,145 in last year’s “run for the record”, and well above that five year average of 33,558.
In addition, the Salmonid Interpretation Centre on the Exploits River is a “must-see” place for both residents and visitors to Newfoundland.
Terra Nova – This is another river doing quite well, with 5,062 salmon as of Monday, above last year’s run of 4,519. The talk regarding a comparative improvement in the health of the environment off Newfoundland really has some truth to it.
Conne – The concern is whether the low numbers returning, 1,189 to Monday, is typical of all the other salmon runs on the south coast of Newfoundland. It is a sobering number when the five year average is a little over 2,000, and last year’s runs were low as well, at 1747. A generation ago runs above 6,000 were normal.
Northern Peninsula Rivers – The Torrent is still low, at 3,749 and only about 170 salmon have come through the fishway in the past week. Last year the run was 5,500 to date.
Sand Hill – This impressive river has now seen 8,502 grilse and 967 large salmon come back, so far ahead of the 2010 numbers of 1,787 grilse and 175 large salmon that one is left speechless. This has to be considered one of the greatest success stories for the year, for whatever reason.
Other rivers in Labrador are holding their own, and the situation may be good in the month ahead if Hurricane Irene follows its present path, taking it inland over Labrador.
Margaree – The river had a bump of rain on Tuesday, but as everyone knows, the NE Margaree drops fairly quickly, so levels are good at the moment for angling.
From John Hart, Thursday at Noon:
Water conditions are currently good. Water is up but a bit dark. Still reports of fish throughout the river with pools on the lower end getting a lot of work and attention. Pools with fish in them, but they are sometimes being overlooked because there aren’t as many being hooked.
Nepisiguit – The numbers are in, and worth waiting for. By mid-Aug there were 429 large salmon back to this river, a wonderful increase over last year’s 129 and 2009′s total of 14! The same could be said for grilse in this river, with 414 this year against 252 last year and the meager 29 of 2009.
Upsalquitch – The 579 grilse returned by mid-Aug. is about the same as last year. But the large salmon return makes up for everything, with 547, making it the best year in a very long time. The cool nights and consistent water, and potential for much more rain with the hurricane should make conditions good into September.
Jacquet River – With 162 large salmon back by mid-August, it is doing well compared with 59 last year and 51 the year before. In addition, there have been 322 grilse returned, which is more than a good comparison with 48 last year and 33 in 2009. The fact we are seeing consistently high returns among many rivers is a very positive sign.
Nashwaak – While there are no new return numbers to report – 211 large salmon by Aug. 15 – it is worth considering a point of context. This is the greatest return of large salmon by this date since about 1990. Just another sign that conditions at sea are giving us all another chance to help restore salmon runs to health, even if a single year’s good runs do not tell the entire story.
Malbaie River (Charlevoix region)
One hour from Québec City, this breathtakingly beautiful river is living a renaissance. Renowned for its stunning panoramic views, La Malbaie River was rediscovered as a salmon angling river in the 1990s. Today, 20 salmon pools have been identified between Clermont and La Malbaie.
As most salmon regions of Quebec, the Malbaie is also being blessed with much higher than average runs this season. As of August 22nd, a total of 142 salmon were released and 124 grilse retained. The season starts on June 15. To date, 694 fish (250 salmon and 444 grilse have migrated through the fish way.
In comparison, at August 22nd 2010, 528 fish had moved through (209 salmon and 321 grilse).
1,894 fish were reported landed, including 268 releases. River conditions continue to be excellent due to consistent amounts of rain and moderate temperatures. 720 more fish have been landed compared to the same date in 2010.
2,960 fish have migrated (1,343 salmon and 1,617 grilse) through the fish ladder. This represents an increase of 740 fish compared to all of last season. 328 salmon and 553 grilse were reported landed, with only a few releases reported. An accurate release number will be available at season end. Water levels have become very low and rain is needed. The number of fish going though has dropped off considerably, but, on the bright side, the river received 39 mm of rain today and the fish in the estuary have been spending time at the buffet. Beware of late season Matane grilse.
1,006 salmon have been landed and released (102 more than same date in 2010). Grilse captures are up from 378 in 2010 to 646. Angling conditions are improving with the flow dropping from 443 meters/second to 343 meters over the last six days.
From August 1st to August 18th, the Cascapedia Society reported 310 fish landed, 238 confirmed releases, and a mix of 72 salmon and grilse killed. A retention fishery with a quota of 100 mature salmon is in effect for the month of August. The society is urging anglers to keep only cock fish in the 15 lb range and to release any hen fish. Mandatory live release of all salmon will resume once the quota is reached or on September 1st.
355 salmon have been reported released compared to 289 to the same date in 2010. Grilse landed increased to 158 from 97 in 2010. Angling conditions on the Sainte-Anne will improve due to recent rains that improved water flow.
1,244 fish (468 salmon and 776 grilse) have migrated from their feeding grounds off the coast of Greenland (454 more than all of last season). Again, we are witnessing a great increase in the number of grilse compared to last year. To date, 123 salmon have been landed which includes 40 released. 281 grilse have been retained.
Manager of the Three Pabos rivers, René Giroux, is reporting a record year on all levels: record number of fish in the rivers, landed, released; record amount of rain; record number of times the barrier fences have been washed away. With all that, 360 fish have been landed (228 salmon released and 132 grilse retained). When the in-river counts were done recently, the Pabos West tally was 700 fish, the Petit Pabos 550, and the Pabos North close to 600. With a large portion of these fish being salmon, these rivers are well on their way to reporting record spawning this fall.
This gin clean stream, in proximity to the town of Gaspé, is having a great season. Manager of Grey Ghost Destinations, Don Bourgouin reported that the recent count totalled over 500 fish and fish landings and releases are much higher than last year. Bourgouin also noted that 30lb salmon are being hooked and released this season.
Zec Manager Michel Desjardins reports steady angling conditions and a vast improvement in the number of fish migrating to this small and intimate river. To date, 111 salmon have been released and 61 grilse retained. These numbers are off the chart. During the entire 2010 season, 18 salmon were released and 35 grilse retained. Area stakeholders are cautiously optimistic about the remainder of the season that ends on September 30th.
Penobscot- Returns are slowing down, but still there were 16 more of these valuable Atlantic salmon passing through Veazie’s trap during the week, bringing the total to 3,029.
Undoubtedly the crew monitoring the trap is making sure everything is secure before Hurricane Irene comes through. After all, the trap is in the middle of the river, and access is only by boat. Just one more challenge during a season that has had so much excitement.