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ASF RIVERNOTES 12 July 2018

Anglers are a force for conservation, and every time one of us handles a wild Atlantic salmon we have a responsibility to practice impeccable live release techniques.


There is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Here are some important reminders:


  • KEEP THE FISH IN THE WATER - Salmon exert a great deal of energy on the end of an anglers line. Once the fish is landed, give it a chance to quickly recover by keeping the head and gills in the water.
  • REDUCE THE TIME YOU PLAY THE FISH - Atlantic salmon have a three-chambered heart that is less efficient than yours. Quickly land the fish to reduce its physical exertion.
  • DON'T USE NYLON NETS OR TAILING GLOVES - These remove the sensitive coating of the fish and damage scales, weakening a fish and possibly leading to infection. Bare hands and rubber nets are best.
  • CARRY FORCEPS OR PLIERS - Smoothly remove the barbless hook while keeping the fish in the water as much as possible.
  • SUPPORT THE SALMON IN THE WATER - Don't pull the salmon back and forth in the current, instead hold the fish nose facing upstream and gently support its weight as it recovers. The fish will let you know when it is ready to swim away. Don't be afraid to get your shirt wet in order to better hold the salmon. It is the least you can do.
  • DO NOT BRING THE SALMON IN TO SHORE OR UP ON THE ROCKS! This is a brutal way to land a fish and could cause fatal injuries.
  • WATCH THIS VIDEO PRODUCED BY ASF, FQSA, AND THE QUEBEC GOVERNMENT. There is nothing like seeing it being done right. Click here


ASF's Nathan Wilbur prepares to release a salmon on the Bonaventure River this year. Note his pliers, bare hands, and the careful handling of the fish.

LABRADOR

In general, water levels have been high, but are now coming down. Check out these photos of the Forteau River by Atlantic Salmon Journal editor Martin Silverstone.


Switchback Falls on the Forteau River, showing the higher water levels this past week. Martin Silverstone/ASF


Angler on the Rocks - high water and wind have made for tough angling in parts of Labrador, like here on the Forteau River. Martin Silverstone/ASF

Eagle River

Dwight Lethbridge of Pratt Falls Lodge notes the following this week:

With a little rain on the weekend the river stopped falling for about 24 hrs but has begun to drop again. With it so high we are starting to see more and more fish porpoising, but the action is still tough. Guides are still reporting hooking smolts as well. Saturday was our first day seeing the camp get into double digit hookups of nearly all large salmon. Despite the tough conditions, spirits were high.

It is clear that fish are late.  According the reports from neighbouring rivers to the south of us, and reduced numbers on the Eagle.  Reports from food net fishers on the coast (which opened on the 7th) also indicate slow fishing.  Eagle has had a slow start, but we have seen some great quality fish.   It does seem to be getting better by day.  The water has been something else.  Very high, making it tough fishing, and tough to even gauge what is in the river.  Most fish are one rise only and moving on.  The water is cold.  At the surface it measured 59 F Tuesday morning.


A Pratt Falls leaper. Cold temperatures definitely make the fish more energetic. Photo Nelson Guy

Strait of Belle Isle

ASF Biologists are hard at work in the Strait of Belle Isle, between Labrador and Newfoundland. The mission is two fold - downloading data from two receiver lines that detect tagged smolt leaving the Gulf of St. Lawrence and attempting to capture smolt using live traps to assess their body condition and by tagging them, expand ASF's tracking reach further into the Labrador Sea.


Heather Perry and Eric Brunsdon pull up and acoustic receiver and download data in the middle fo the Strait of Belle Isle. Photo Martin Silverstone

Field work is tough. Check out this video of Eric and Heather tending the receiver line

 

NEWFOUNDLAND


The counting fence data has been updated to July 8.




Exploits - We can say the glass is half full, after last year's low returns but still only half the average of recent years.


Campbellton River - Returns almost up to those of recent years and three times the low nunmbers of 2017.


Conne River - Alarmingly low numbers on this important south coast river, with only 389, compared to the averages of recent years of 2052.


Harry's River - Still low, but the counting fence had washed out and there may be issues around count accuracy.


Rivers on the western coast of Newfoundland such as the Torrent and Western Arm Brook are doing worse than 2017 - and far below recent averages.


NOVA SCOTIA


Margaree -


There have been some glorious summer days on the Margaree this week, and water levels have been acceptable.



Ross Bridge Pool on Margaree River taken July 10, 2018. Lewis Hinks/ASF


Greg Lovely notes:


Because of the heat,the salmon are taking a fly less frequently than they were last week. Fish are still being hooked early morning and in the evening. Hopefully we get a little rain from tropical cyclone Chris.


DFO did a swim through way up river and saw salmon, so the fish are throughout the river. Water levels are still reasonable in both of the main branches of the river.  I was fishing with Lewis Hinks Monday evening and on the incoming tide we saw quite a few fish moving through. Let's hope what seems like a good run of salmon for the Margaree river continues.



Hatchery Pool on the Northeast Margaree on July 10, 2018.  Water levels are excellent. Lewis Hinks/ASF


Ward's Rock Pool, Northeast Margaree, on July 10, 2018.  Lewis Hinks/ASF

Cheticamp - René Aucoin says:

Fishing has been good in June but is now tapering off towards the end of the Spring run. Good number of large fish, 20lb range, and still some in the upper pools but water now low. We did not get last week's rain. Still seeing a few fish near the mouth (Le Goulet) of the river but that too is tapering off. Hopefully, we will get some rain from the storm coming up the coast.

Note that as of late Wednesday, it appears Tropical Storm Chris will pass further offshore than anticipated, and rainfall in Cape Breton will be low.

Site of the Cheticamp landslide and temporary damming of the Cheticamp. While water is low, it is still flowing well through the site. Photo taken July 10, 2018. Lewis Hinks/ASF

The scar left by landslide on the Cheticamp River is significant. So far the slope appears to be holding, and the Cheticamp is running clear.  Lewis Hinks/ASF

LaHave - DFO finally has its June 30 count up on the website - 54 large salmon but only 20 grilse, compared with 20 large salmon and 135 grilse to the same date in 2017.


NEW BRUNSWICK

Swinging a fly on the Upsalquitch, 8 July 2018.   Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Nathan Wilbur, ASF Director of New Brunswick Programs, has been making the rounds:

The heat wave throughout New Brunswick last week put a damper on salmon fishing and created stressfully warm conditions for salmon in some areas. The Southwest Miramichi and Little Southwest Miramichi are monitored for temperature and each hit 28C at the tail end of last week’s heat wave. Anglers should be advised to be very cautious while fishing for salmon at water temperatures greater than 20C and to consider hanging up the rod when it reaches 23C. At that point, salmon are in survival mode and head to cold water refuges. Accordingly, DFO closed the cold water holding pools on the Miramichi system. Conditions have improved since the downpour on Friday and cool overnight temperatures over the weekend, but the heat again this week is warming things back up.


Southwest Miramichi after a nice rise of water in early July. Nathan Wilbur/ASF 

The Northwest Miramichi barrier counts have now exceeded those of 2017 to the same date, with 126 Atlantic salmon compared to 97 last year. Of particular note, there are 43 large salmon compared to 23 last year, nearly double. Numbers at the Dungarvon barrier are still lagging behind 2017, with 55 Atlantic salmon compared to 100 last year. Remember, these barriers are in the headwaters of the Northwest and Dungarvon rivers and only a small proportion of the run migrates up that far; it is not a total count for the rivers, but acts as an index to compare between years.


 Craig Sabbean Poles a canoe to maintain its position while his brother Matthew tests a line on the Dungarvon River. Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Brock Curtis, of Curtis Miramichi Outfitters, has these notes on Tues., July 10:

According to the forecast, the heat wave is behind us and the next couple of days show mid 20's and cooler evenings. Yesterday we had heavy rain and thunderstorms throughout the day. Not sure if it was enough to raise the river or not. At one point the temperatures dropped 10C within an hour. River temperature this morning in Blackville was around 20C.

Very little talk on salmon being caught on the rod as most major pools are still closed. A few of the locals who are fishing are commenting on the salmon runs that continue to come in. One pool in the Howards area has been producing salmon all week. In fact they consistently seem to be hooking a ratio of four grilse for every salmon in this area. The salmon seem to be here but we need the warm water protocol dropped to get anglers back on the major pools. Everyone is hopeful that will happen soon.


Dungarvon River at the "Witching Hour" Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Sevogle River - Northwest Miramichi

Paul Elson Jr. describes the river this week:

We just returned from the Narrows Crown Reserve, on the North Branch of the Sevogle. We had the Narrows from July 8-10.

Needless to say water is extremely low. Day one Howie Gould hooked, landed, and released a small grilse in the first 10 minutes, then wandered down river and found a big bright salmon lying in about 9” of water. As soon as I pulled back on the rod to cast she took off up river, not to be seen again.

Down to the next set of pools where there were 2 salmon lying at the tail of the pool. No takers. We quit fishing at 6pm as it was hot and the water temperature at 6pm was 75 degrees.


Paul Elson Jr. releases Atlantic salmon on the Sevogle. See video link below.  Photo Howard Gould

Day 2, Jeff and Stephanie stayed at the Narrows Pool. They started fishing at 7:30am, and water temperature was 65 F. Howie and I walked down the river about 3km fishing every pool, pocket & riffle. We saw absolutely nothing.

When we got back to the Narrows Pool about 10:30am, Steph had raised a salmon and had it chased her fly a couple of times. I gave it a whirl and had the salmon chase my fly as well, so I switched to the “baby blue” (#2 blue bomber with gigantic split wings), and on the third cast the fish was on.

We released her and we all went through the pool again and then headed to the camp at 11am, as it was getting hot. No fishing in the afternoon or evening due to heat and water temperatures.


Paul Elson Jr. casts at the Narrows Crows Reserve on the Sevogle. Photo Howard Gould


On the last day, Tues. July 10, no fish to be found anywhere. Water was 64F in the morning. I think we fished for a total of five hours the entire trip, but we had a great time just the same.  Howie Gould has some great pictures of the river to show how low it is.

Here is a link to the release https://vimeo.com/279351955


Restigouche River System


Julia Carpenter releasing a grilse on the Upsalquitch on July 6, 2018 - her birthday.   Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Nathan Wilbur on the Restigouche:

The Restigouche is reportedly having a good run at the moment, with salmon holding in most pools throughout the system. The Upsalquitch saw a nice raise in water of a few inches after Friday’s rain and water temperatures were ideal between 14-18C over the weekend. There appeared to be good numbers of salmon and grilse in the river, and there was certainly a good grilse run on. Fish were jumping and porpoising as they moved upriver. An exciting time to be on the water, anticipation with every cast. Katelynn Smith, on a crown reserve trip, broke the ice and landed her very first Atlantic salmon. We’ve assured her it seems to come easier after the first one.


Katelyn Smith and Julia Carpenter after a morning of salmon angling on the Upsalquitch.  Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Kedgwick - Danny Bird of Kedgwick Lodge says:

The water levels are getting low. Thankfully our pools are cold water pools and the fish have found comfort in being in them. Our fish count is comparable to that of 2017 and our guests are releasing fish each and every outing. A good rain would do wonders!


Sometimes panoramas can bring out the nature of a river - in this case the Upsalquitch.  Nathan Wilbur/ASF

QUEBEC

Charles Cusson, ASF Director of Quebec Programs, notes:

We are getting to the point of needing major storms to bring water levels and flows up again.

Reminder to anglers fishing Quebec Rivers, take the time to report your releases in order to have the most accurate angling statistics and for the river managers to accurately calculate angling success. 

All data presented in this report is sourced from individual river web sites, social media accounts and are regulated by the Quebec wild Atlantic salmon management plan.

York River – Season opened on May 25

The harvest of large salmon was in effect from July 1 and the in-river count was completed on the York on July 8.  350 salmon and 50 grilse were counted indicating insufficient abundance.  As of July 11, mandatory live release is back in force. The next count, conditions permitting, is scheduled for late July. 

The York, like the Dartmouth and St-Jean, is in desperate need of rain. As of July 10, the water flow recording station located 1.4 km downstream from Dinner Island Creek indicates a flow of 4.2 cubic meters per second.





Causapscal River

The “Causap” as it’s called by many anglers, is having a very good season.  Fish started to arrive in early June and in the face of tougher conditions as the season has progressed, continues to be productive.

To July 10, 2018, 155 salmon have been landed including 61 releases.  In 2017 to the same date there were 134 fish landed with 20 released.

Matapedia River

Angling started early this season (May 25) and took some time for action to pickup, but at this point in the season comparative figures are slightly higher to last season.

To July 10,  there were 262 fish reported to have been landed including 196 salmon released and 56 grilse killed. To the same date a year ago, there were 253 fish landed including 213 salmon released and 40 grilse killed.

Moisie River – ZEC and Winthrop Campbell sectors

The 2018 season on the Moisie has been challenging.  To July 3, 63 fish have been reported landed, including 37 salmon released. To July 2, 2017, 158 fish had been reported landed including 27 salmon released.
Aux Rochers River
Just as for other North Shore rivers, the fish have been late arriving.  To July 8, 2018, 84 fish have been reported landed, including 75 salmon and 2 grilse released. To July 9, 2017, 192 fish had been reported landed including 174 salmon and 3 grilse released.

Bonaventure


The Bonaventure is stunningly beautiful in places - the quintessential salmon river of the Gaspé. Taken June 26, 2018 during a one-person canoe and salmon angling trip. Nathan Wilbur/ASF




Green Spey on Bonaventure, on 25 Jun 2018. Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Matane River

The Matane has had its share of low water combined with the late arrival of salmon this season.  The next two weeks usually represent the tell-tale part of the migration.  For the day on July 10, 73 fish (43 salmon and 30 grilse) were counted through the fishway.

A total of 617 fish have been counted (489 salmon and 128 grilse) to July 10, 2018.  82 fish have been reported landed including 66 salmon and 4 grilse released.

In 2017, at July 10, 814 fish had been counted (615 salmon and 199 grilse).  79 fish had been reported landed including 64 salmon and 2 grilse released.

Mitis River

A sad story is unfolding on this interesting lower St. Lawrence river.  The fish trap which is incorporated into the dam has been put out of action due to an equipment failure.  A temporary trap was installed downstream in the natural part of the stream but does not seem to be delivering the expected results.

To July 9, 63 fish have entered the trap including 21 salmon and 42 grilse.  No captures have been reported to date.  These low numbers compare poorly to 552 fish (306 salmon and 246 grilse) by July 11, 2017.  Reported captures at that date totaled 92 including 72 salmon released.

Local and provincial groups such as the FQSA (Fédération québécoise pour le saumon atlantique) are working to resolve the problem as soon as possible.