Note: The sections on NL and NB were updated on Sun. June 3 to reflect regulatory facts.
For Atlantic salmon, and those who spend time on Atlantic salmon rivers, no two years are the same.
This year we have it all - regulatory confusion in Newfoundland and Labrador, a landslide affecting an important salmon river in Nova Scotia, and on again and off again rains elsewhere.
On early Sunday, May 27, a hillside on the lower part of the Cheticamp River in Cape Breton gave way. Soil, trees, and rocks descended to block the river channel. The landslide also spewed silt and mud into the waters downstream.
Cheticamp landslip photos by René Aucoin
While the impact of this landslip on salmon migration remain to be seen, Roberts Brook, a spawning stream for Atlantic salmon, enters just above the resultant blockage. Also, there is a campground opposite the debris pile. There are plans to remove at least some of the material from the stream.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
After all the confusion and politicking over the printing of licenses in Newfoundland and Labrador, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
DFO - The final word on the regulations, had the following to say to KEITH PIERCEY late on Friday:
GOOD NEWS!! I just received the answer back from DFO regarding the status of the angling limits for 2018 and wish to thank the Area Manager here for following up for me/us and to the DFO Regional Enforcement section for their cooperation on this. Here's what it says.
"The 2018 management approach is a one fish retention on all rivers throughout Newfoundland and Labrador that currently have retention. The department will conduct an in-season review of returns and the results of the review will inform the management approach for the remainder of the season.
Catch and release limits are reduced to three fish per day for Newfoundland and Labrador.
Retention of salmon is not permitted on non-scheduled waters."
Confusing the matter, on May 31st, the provincial government announced that licenses will be in the hands of vendors in central and western Newfoundland on Monday, June 4.
The province's release says:
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has set retention quotas at one fish only per season – pending a mid-season review – with a catch-and-release limit of three fish per day for all rivers in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2018. To ensure conservation of the salmon resource, the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources has set a catch-and-release limit of 10 salmon per season per licence until DFO’s mid-season review in July.
Check out the full explanation here .
ASF's Don Ivany notes that DFO is the one in charge on the regulations on the water. He says:
At the same time, the official angling guide for Newfoundland and Labrador is now online:
- Start date is listed as June 01, but we now know that will be delayed until June 4 and later - depending on license availability. Check locally.
- Season end dates remain the same as last year for the island and Labrador.
- There will be a live release fishery on the three Class 6 Rivers (Humber, Exploits, and Gander) but the usual fall retention fishery on the Gander will depend on results of an in-season review.
- All rivers are now designated as Class 2 with only one red tag for retention until after the in-season review.
- Daily catch and release limit is 3 fish except for Class 0 Rivers where it is two per day.
- Salmon cannot be retained on non-scheduled rivers, a change from last year.
The uncertainty caused by the provincial and federal government has left some river accommodations and outfitters feeling uneasy, with delayed bookings according to sources. Remember that DFO is responsible for managing the runs, and the drop in numbers in past two years requires special conservation measures.
Harry's River in western Newfoundland is known for its higher proportion of large salmon. Photo Tom Moffatt/ASF
ASF's Charles Cusson writes:
Most rivers open their season on June 1, but angling started as of May 15 on the Causapscal and Matapedia rivers and as of May 25 on the Moisie, York, Dartmouth and St-Jean rivers. A few fish have been spotted and landed to date, but river levels have been dropping fast! Next 2018 season opening dates are June 15 and July 1.
2018 marks the third year of the 2016-2026 Atlantic salmon management plan in Quebec. Except for six rivers, Causapscal, Moisie, Natashquan, St-Jean (North Shore) as of June 1, York and Patapedia as of July 1, all large salmon must be released until a mid-season abundance assessment can be made.
The number of fish making it to spawning areas should increase this year due to the new permit structure being introduced. A retention license now is issued with the reduced harvest of 1 tag for a large salmon and 3 grilse tags. Combined with the management plan, this should translate into more fish on spawning beds next Fall.
Charles Cusson also notes:
Water levels are a mixed bag to date. On the three Gaspé rivers, flows are at summer time levels and the north shore rivers are flowing at their usual “torrent” levels for this time of the year.
On the Cascapedia, the damage caused to the TROUT BROOK bridge (which crosses Route 299) to be washed out and new structure should be in place in the next few days. Drone video footage has been posted on YouTube which shows the extent of damage and some beautiful scenes of the river.