ABOVE: Lower Crossing Pool on the Nepisiguit River taken Wed. June 20, 2018. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
This week's RIVERNOTES is picture rich thanks to ASF's regional staff who have been busy in the field, visiting camps and anglers and stepping up to help ASF's researchers at this busy time of year. Quebec program director Charles Cusson has been on the Rivière Ouelle, Causapscal, Bonaventure and others. New Brunswick program director Nathan Wilbur took a few days off with a friend and paddled the Restigouche River system, encountering rain and fish. Nova Scotia program director Lewis Hinks was inspecting the Cheticamp and Margaree, and then took a few days vacation on New Brunswick's Upsalquitch River. Newfoundland and Labrador program director Don Ivany was preparing to join the research team for the annual task of deploying sensors across the Strait of Belle Isle to mark tagged smolts at they pass. Don reports snow covered hills on the Labrador side as of Wednesday.
Elsewhere, Andy Goode, ASF vice-president of U.S. programs and the driving force behind the Penobscot River restoration project , was viewing the Milford Fish Lift, now the principal counting and assessment facility on the Penobscot. Regional program director Geoff Giffin spent some time with his 91-year old father Randy, still an active angler, on the Hammond River in southwest New Brunswick.
ASF's regional staff together brings well over a century of experience and knowledge with them into the field. Their advice and actions on behalf of wild Atlantic salmon are critically important to the mission of ASF.
Neil Damon releases a nice Restigouche salmon on June 14. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
CHARLES CUSSSON, ASF's Director of Quebec Programs wrote in on June 21:
Most salmon regions in Quebec are reporting frustrating angling due to the fish being late. The optimist in me is saying wait until June 28 when the next full moon should bring Atlantic salmon into their rivers as the tides reach their highest levels of the month.
Reminder to anglers fishing Quebec rivers - take the time to report your releases in order to generate the most accurate angling statistics and for the river managers to accurately calculate angling success. Tight Lines!
Mic-Mac Camp release - doing it the right way. Photo Mic-Mac Camp
The Cascapedia Society has yet to report fish landings for 2018. But entries on the Facebook pages of MicMac Camp and Salmon Lodge are some catch and improved angling conditions. Guests at Salmon Lodge fishing in sector C reported releasing 2 salmon in the 30lb + range and one 40lb beauty. Guests at the MicMac camp have started to have great angling with 10 fish being landed and released on June 20, one over 30lbs or 13.5kg.
Release of Atlantic salmon on June 10, 2018 at Mic-Mac Camp. Photo Mic-Mac Camp
Manager Darlene Sexton is celebrating 30 years of service with the Cascapedia Society this week. Congratulations to Darlene, she’s a great ambassador for the Cascapedia River and its salmon.
Tim Bridge (right) landed a 12 lbs salmon on the Cascapedia, June 13th, guided by Jean Marc . Photo Salmon Lodge
To June 20, the SOGERM (Société de gestion de la rivière Matane) is reporting 83 salmon have been counted through the fishway. To June 19, 2017 74 salmon had been counted. 4 salmon have been landed and released to date compared to 7 in 2017.
Atlantic salmon can be seen in the Matane fishway, a wonderful place to stop on a Gaspé Peninsula road trip.
The “Causap” has not disappointed anglers and seems to be having a good early run, compared to other rivers nearby. The encouraging news is the number of angled fish being released to continue their spawning journey. As of June 19, a total of 98 fish have been landed which include 56 released. By the same date in 2017 there were 88 landed but only 15 released.
The fish were late showing up, but angling success is picking up. To June 19, 46 fish have been reported landed and released. At June 19, 2017, 68 fish had been landed and let go.
Rod days sold to date: 985 compared to 709 in 2017 and 537 2016.
To June 19, the APRM (Association de protection de la rivière Moisie) is reporting salmon are at least 3 weeks late. To date, 54 fish have been angled, 37 of those released compared to June 18 2017 when a total of 124 salmon were reported landed.
ASF (Canada) vice-chair, Charles Langlois reports a slow start at the Moisie-Nipissis camp to date. “With water levels dropping, when the fish do show up we’ll have decent angling opportunities”.
Cran Rouge Pool on the Rivière Ouelle, June 17, 2018. Charles Cusson/ASF
75 minutes east of Quebec City on the south shore, you’ll find the Rivière Ouelle which ASF Quebec program director Charles Cusson recently visited. A chance encounter there provided Charles with the opportunity to meet a young angler, Louis-Michel Guay, 20 years of age, in his 3rd season as a salmon angler. A student at Laval University where he is studying geomatics, Guay made a day trip to the river last Sunday, to the Cran Rouge pool, which is cut out of rock formations that gives it a distinct colour and surface. He has yet to land a fish since joining the salmon angler fraternity but is eager to live the experience of releasing his catch this year. And yes, he will be signing on as a joint FQSA-ASF member. Tight Lines Louis-Michel.
Louis-Michel Guay on the rocks beside the Cran Rouge Pool, Rivière Ouelle on 17 June, 2018. Charles Cusson/ASF
Don Ivany, ASF's Director of Programs for Newfoundland and Labrador is working with a team at the Strait of Belle Isle to prepare acoustic receiver equipment to be deployed across the strait between Newfoundland and Labrador. He notes that snow can be seen on the hills on the Labrador side.
He says that on the way north, all the rivers were still high.
River of Ponds is still in high water mode, as seen on June 18, 2018. Don Ivany/ASF
Meanwhile, DFO has released counting fence data to June 17 for Newfoundland.
We are all happy to see the Exploits doing much better than last year year. As many will remember in 2017 there was concern that extremely heavy ice along most of the north coast had been acting as a barrier.
The Conne River appears as if it will be off limits again this year. Of great concern is that Harry's River, with its higher proportion of large salmon, has only a fraction of the return it had to this point in 2017.
The Garnish River in the east is doing rather well compared with last year, and it will be interesting to see its returns in the months ahead.
As to water levels, in the south of the island there was the significant rain that was shared with Cape Breton and New Brunswick, but not up the Northern Peninsula.
Torrent River, looking toward Hawke's Bay and the northeastern part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, from the highway bridge. Don Ivany/ASF
Western Arm Brook counting fence on June 18, 2018. As of the day before this photo, there had been no Atlantic salmon seen in the river. Don Ivany/ASF
Rainstorms swept through Tuesday and bumped up water levels, especially for the Margaree.
Greg Lovely had this to say on Wednesday about the hike in water flows:
Dirty water jammed more trees into Cranton Bridge and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure was working to clear the debris. That was Tuesday. Wednesday,the water from the Margaree Forks upriver was clearing and dropping to fishable levels in highwater pools, where wading to cross the Margaree river was not necessary.
There are reports of fish being hooked daily now and when this last deluge settles, I am sure angling will improve.
Cranton Bridge near Margaree Centre with tree trunks wedged against structure. Photo Greg Lovely
The Cranton Bridge is located not far from where the Northeast Margaree leaves the canyon-like valley.
Cheticamp River Update - Parks Canada has completed hydroseeding and laying on of hay, and we should have a better idea in a week or two how the landslide recovery efforts are faring.
Another view looking up the Cheticamp River valley before the landslide was cleaned up. Photo Parks Canada.
Nathan Wilbur, ASF Director of New Brunswick programs had a few days off to canoe and angle for Atlantic salmon in the Restigouche River system, accompanied by considerable rain. Photos below tell the story.
Neil Damon releasing a Restigouche salmon on June 14, as the rain falls. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Drying out at the campfire, and getting to renew acquaintances with a river. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF
June 15, the sun comes out everything turns magical. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Surveying for Atlantic salmon on Friday, June 15, 2018. Water levels up, but not outrageous. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Confluence of the Restigouche and Matapedia on Sat. June 16. Looking at the mainstem river, it would appear that even more water would be welcome. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF
In total the trip brought one salmon to each of Nathan Wilbur and Neil Damon.
Lewis Hinks, ASF's Director of Programs for Nova Scotia, was on the Upsalquitch this past weekend.
Beautiful water, but no Atlantic salmon in an Upsalquitch venture. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF
The search for Atlantic salmon on the Upsalquitch was unsuccessful, but a large salmon was angled at Two Brooks Camp, not far above this image. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF
On June 20 the water levels looked perfect on the Nepisiguit River in northern N.B. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
The Jacquet River counting fence is reporting a single grilse to June 17, 2018 - one more than last year to the same date.
Jacquet River where it meets the Baie des Chaleurs. The river tends to be on the late side in salmon returns. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Southwest Miramichi water levels rose on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 following more rain. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Brock Curtis of Blackville wrote early in the week, prior to the Tuesday rains:
We have had salmon in the river here since early June. I personally saw salmon jumping (while on our 43rd annual canoe run) during the second and third of June on the lower section of the river in the Upper Blackville and Blackville area. Not many people were angling at that time. Things picked up last week though, and more anglers are now about. We have heard of salmon being caught on the Dungarvon, Renous, Southwest Miramichi, and Northwest system since then. We aren't talking big numbers in regards to those who are hooking and landing salmon and most who are successful are earning them. It is always a joy though to hear anglers discussing the fight these early fish give them.
River levels are low and it is great for wading but we had to take our canoes off the tributaries. We could use a couple of days of rain for those who still want to canoe their favourite tributary. While most people are angling for salmon there are quite a few hooking into trout and striped bass. We heard of one angler catching two bass, a large trout and an Atlantic salmon in one day in the Quarryville area. Not bad for this time of year. I talked to two guys who had also caught two striped bass Sunday morning in Quarryville and were heading upriver chasing salmon.
Quite a few anglers are around this week. We have the Atlantic Salmon Fly International in Miramichi City this weekend. That will attract a lot of salmon fisherman. Most people are just starting to get their gear out for the season. So, a bit early, but one thing everyone seems to be talking about and hoping for is good news this season in regards to our precious salmon.
The water level at Blackville received a significant bump with the recent rain.
Northwest Miramichi system
Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures has said the water levels on the Little Southwest and Northwest Miramichi are ideal right now, with the small rise they had following Tuesday's rainstorms. It is still early, but the fish are here.
Paul Elson Jr. releases a very nice, bright salmon on June 19, 2018 on the Northwest Miramichi. The Atlantic salmon may be late this year, but they are in the rivers. Photo Blaine Dunnett
The weekly counting fence reports may be indicating that returns are somewhat later this year. We all HOPE it is later. At the Northwest Miramichi Barrier there has been a single large salmon until June 17, compared with 3 grilse and 16 large salmon the year before.
At the Dungarvon Barrier on the Southwest Miramichi there has been 1 large salmon to June 17, compared with 16 large salmon to the same date in 2017.
In southern New Brunswick, the Hammond has received regular rain, bringing up levels.
Randy Giffin, age 91, tosses a line for trout in the Hammond River Home Pool. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF
Randy Giffin with decades of embroidered patches on the fishing vest, telling of a lifetime's fascination with Atlantic salmon. Photo Geoff Giffin/ASF
Penobscot - As of June 17 there have been 281 large salmon and 16 grilse at the Milford Trap, which is well behind last year. Biologist Jason Valliere suspects the lower water flows are at least partly responsible. To June 16, 2017 there had been 398. This figure of 297 for 2018 is behind that of 2015 (317) and 2012 (510). It is better than 2016 (202) and 2014 (63).
Atlantic salmon in the Milford Fish Lift trap. Atlantic salmon are assessed here, and many are collected as broodstock to be kept at the USFW Craig Brook Hatchery in East Orland, Maine. Andy Goode/ASF
River Herring in the fishway at Milford that has side-viewing underwater. A total of three lampreys can also be spotted. Andy Goode/ASF
Downeast Salmon Rivers
East Machias -
The East Machias facility of the Downeast Salmon Federation on Willow St. now has up an exhibition of heritage images of local people and their connection to Atlantic salmon. To arrange to see the photographs, contact Heather Andrews. For more details and contact details, CLICK HERE
Kyle Winslow of the Downeast Salmon Federation views some of the images in East Machias. As with so many photographs more than four decades ago, they focused on holding up dead salmon. Both the East Machias and the Machias rivers now have endangered populations of wild Atlantic salmon. Around 2000 a dam was removed in East Machias by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assist the passage of Atlantic salmon and other native species. Photo Heather Andrews.