LATE NEWS: DFO has closed the cold water pools on the Miramichi River. Click here for more details
In the past few years, small waterproof cameras have changed the game on taking salmon photos on the water. And none has made a bigger difference than the constantly evolving GoPro lineup.
Relatively inexpensive, with attachments that can include helmet or chest, or be hand-held for underwater or above the water use, they have been used to expand the potential for taking images of that live release of a gorgeous Atlantic salmon. Plus the GoPro can capture that action before the Atlantic salmon is brought in to be released.
Ed Clarke plays a leaping Atlantic salmon in the Forks Pool of the Margaree River on June 23, 2018, using a chest-mounted GoPro 5 Black.
Photo Ed Clarke.
But the latest additiion to the GoPro family makes life easier with one particular feature - voice activation. No more fumbling and baubling the camera. Tell it to take images.
Ed Clarke descibes its use, and his preference for a chest-mount of this very small camera.
The GoPro Hero5 Black on chest for me does not get in the way.
I wear a sling pack and have the gopro on my chest and use the voice activation with the Hero5 Black model. It allows me to take video on command which comes in handy when Atlantic salmon fishing.
I dont have to fumble for a waterproof phone plus I create a video library of catches and underwater releases. From the video I can sift through frame by frame for photos. As for the location on the chest for the view of what's captured, you get the hand rod and reel and the action. If it was on the head there would be more movement as your head is on a swivel during a hookup with an Atlantic salmon.
These days, screen grabs from 4k video provide impressive results as you can see.
Underwater release of a gorgeous healthy female Atlantic salmon in the Forks Pool of the Margaree River. Ed Clarke
In the Margaree River report below, there is a photo of Ed Clarke showing his particular setup with the camera - and technique for live releasing the salmon.
When it comes to Atlantic salmon runs, the Margaree has been HOT this past 10 days or so. A great run of fish, and temperature-wise, the water has been cool until the heat finally hit in the last few days.
Ed Clarke is all smiles while releasing a wonderfully healthy female Atlantic salmon in the Forks Pool of the Margaree. Photo Darren Bernard.
Detail of the above image showing the GoPro Hero5 Black, along with a closer look at the silvery fish. Photo Darren Bernard.
Alex Breckenridge, who runs "The Tying Scotsman" in the Margaree Valley, has this to say:
With the 2 floods around the middle of June, the fishing really took off. Previously there were some to be found, but not in the numbers we’ve had recently. For some anglers visiting the Margaree and its salmon pools, it was their first fish which is always gratifying. Over the July 1 holiday weekend there was limit catches daily, one guest said the week previously he’d fished the Bonaventure but hadn't compared well to three days on the Margaree. Pat Mahoney had nine fish over the weekend, you can see the bite mark on one of his fish. Seal?
Some anglers are comparing it to the 2011 season, long may it continue.
Release on July 1 of another beautiful Atlantic salmon on the Margaree River. Photo Josh Belyea
Greg Lovely on the Margaree notes:
Another big smash of rain has hit the Margaree area and the river came up 50cm. The trees that were clogging Cranton bridge have been removed, giving the salmon and sea trout freedom to move up river. One of the Margaree Salmon Association Board Directors was lucky enough to land two monster 25in/63cm sea-run brook trout. When the river levels drop, and water clears, I am sure salmon are going to be hooked daily. Snow in the Cape Breton Highlands June 25th, 2018 and 2C/36F at 6 AM at home. This is keeping the river nice and cold. Last year at this time the water was already extremely low.
Drone photo of the Lower Tompkins Pool after the big rains of June 25, 2018. Photo Ryan Campbell.
René Aucoin had the following to say about the run so far:
This has been the wettest June for a long time, and quite cool. There has been a half decent run of salmon this year, better than might be expected with many of them having been smolts experiencing the 2015 flood. There are not many fishing, and the numbers seemed to have tapered off. Nevertheless, a couple of days ago, fishing at the mouth of the river, a 20-pounder leaped not far from me. Overall, the salmon numbers are better than I would have expected.
On this year's landslide, Parks Canada has done an excellent job of removing the river obstruction and stabilizing it. There have not been any further landslips, and that is certainly a good thing.
West River Sheet Harbour
This river system down the Eastern Shore from Halifax has become a major research area for examining ways of mitigating acid rain. It began with a lime doser that was put in place a decade ago. As the acidity was reduced, the region downstream improved ecologically, with more insect larva, more trout, and definitely more Atlantic salmon. Elsewhere, watershed liming, with helicopter spreading of a form of lime has formed another interesting experiment in a different part of the watershed.
On Sat. June 30, a second lime doser was officially inaugurated on a tributary, the Killag River. The event that drew many, and included Keith Colwell, NS Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. It was a great day for weather, and the river was certainly looking its best on this day. The doser mixes a slurry of lime and water, and in response to measured acidity, pumps small amounts to mix with the stream, and bring the water closer to neutral pH.
People assembled around the Killag River doser in advance of the official inauguration. The silo contains the lime, with the lower part of the cylinder containing machinery for mixing, and electronic controls. Photo Mark MacPhail
Turning on the doser. L-R: Kris Hunter, NSSA President, Minister Keith Colwell NS Fisheries and Charles Clattenburg, President of Eastern Shore Wildlife Association. Photo Mark MacPhail
Background on Nova Scotia and Acid Rain:
For decades the acid rain created principally by coal-fired power plants in the Ohio River Valley dropped their loads of acid rain on Nova Scotia. The land on the open Atlantic Ocean side of the province was greatly impacted, and even at present levels it may take a century before 54 Atlantic salmon rivers recover. The West River Sheet Harbour is essentially the only river receiving serious mitigation for the impacts.
Map showing Atlantic salmon rivers impacted by acid rain in Nova Scotia. Since this map was created, undoubtedly more rivers have entirely lost their salmon populations, but no comprehensive survey has bee undertaken in the past decade.
Overall, everyone is still waiting for more Atlantic salmon whenever water and cooler temperatures prevail.
July 1 morning on the Dungarvon River. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
The numbers to July 1 have been released, and a comparison made by Geoff Giffin gives a perspective on where we are at this time. As a reminder, 2011 was the last decent year - even though it was far behind what the Miramichi produced in the 20th century. The year 2014 was a poor year. The numbers below compare grilse, salmon and combined numbers for the Dungarvon Barrier, basis for computing Southwest Miramichi Numbers, and Northwest Barrier, the basis for computing numbers on the Northwest Miramichi.
Nathan Wilbur, ASF Director of New Brunswick Programs, notes:
The Southwest Miramichi and tributaries received a good dump of rain in their headwaters last Thursday, bringing the water level up 22in at the gauge in Blackville (see screen shot below). Combined with the full moon, this raise was timely, and one would expect fish to flood in with these conditions in early July.
However, even with the good water, water temperature is measuring very warm. Alarmingly warm - it was 23.6 Celsius on Sunday in Boiestown. This should not be the case on the Miramichi with good water on July 1st. For more information on real-time water temperatures, please visit the MREAC website for stations on the Southwest Miramichi at Doaktown and Little Southwest Miramichi at Upper Oxbow: http://mreac.org/project/real-time-monitoring/.
Brock Curtis of Curtis Miramichi Outfitters in Blackville has this perspective:
Last weeks rain from Wednesday night through Thursday and the thunder showers Friday brought the river up quite a bit. Most would estimate at around two feet. This came at a perfect time as we are now into the usual week or so of July heat wave.( I am referring to the lower section of the river here in the Blackville area). Temperatures at noon today were showing 23C - 24C on my thermometer and the water level is still quite good although it is dropping. The forecast is showing low 20's for Friday so we just need to hang in there.
Prior to the raise in river levels we had reports of quite good angling for the last week or so of June. In fact some of the lodge owners and caretakers were reporting the best June fishing they have seen in years. This is the exact opposite of what other anglers reported but it seems if you had access to good pools the angling was quite good. All of our canoers are still reporting seeing Salmon jumping along the river.
Since the raise in river levels and our July 1st celebrations we haven't had many reports from anglers. Those I talked to over the weekend said it was slow. Today and yesterday we heard of some hook ups but it is probably going to be slow until Friday. Once things cool down again it will pick up. Now we need a good July run of salmon. That would be good news for our rivers.
Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures says:
Getting very warm right now. We expect that once the water temperatures cool and July rain helps out, the Atlantic salmon will be coming in.
Laura Gilks casts a fly on June 30 on the Little Southwest River. Photo David Flanagan
St. John River
The numbers are well below last year's abyssmal returns, with 32 large salmon and 60 grilse at Mactaquac, comared with 45 large salmon and 89 grilse in 2017. And for comparison, to the same June 30 date, the average 1995 to 1999 was 506 large salmon and 451 grilse. This is a river in great trouble.
Four large salmon and three grilse to June 30, 2018, compared with 11 large salmon and 5 grilse in 2017.
ASF's Nathan Wilbur says of the river system:
There have been mixed angling reports on the Restigouche, with some anglers reporting decent fishing higher up in the system such as on the Kedgwick. The lower river seems to still be fishing slow, and consistent with reports from other areas suggesting the run is late.
David LeBlanc of the Restigouche River Watershed Management Council, said on Wednesday:
Numbers are catching up but it was a slow start. There was an early run for the Kedgwick. Also, overall there are more grilse than in previous years.
One of our projects this year is working with DFO and the Quebec Government on a study of the stomach contents of striped bass. As part of this, we have made sure all fishing camps have the scientific permits allowing for collection of the striped bass. So far this year we have had two. Last year in total there were 47.
He also notes that as of July 3, the water levels were dropping fast.
Matapedia River, looking towards the junction with the Restigouche River on June 3, 2018. Photo David LeBlanc
All data presented in this report is sourced from a variety of individual river websites, social media postings and are regulated by the Quebec wild Atlantic salmon management plan.
The Quebec section of ASF RIVERNOTES, at each month end during the season, will be presented in the following format. Some notes for this report:
- At the quarter pole to June 30, 2018, rivers in the lower St-Lawrence and Gaspé areas are dealing with very low levels and flow.
ASF's Charles Cusson, Director of Quebec Programs, notes:
- Reminder to anglers fishing Quebec Rivers, take the time to report your releases to have the most accurate angling statistics and for the river managers to accurately calculate angling success. Tight Lines!
Jupiter River – Anticosti Island – Season opened on June 15
ASF member Charles “Chip” Brennan reports very good angling on the Jupiter. He and his party were the thirdgroup of the year from June 25 to 29. To that date, a total of 53 salmon and 11 grilse were landed and released. For the same week last year, 26 salmon and 4 grilse had been landed and released.
York River – Season opened on May 25
The York River is one of the rivers exempted from the management plan rules as of July 1. If an assessment reveals that at least 600 salmon are present in the river, large salmon harvest is allowed. For now, the managers are allowing the harvest from July 1st and will complete a count by July 10th. The York, like the two other rivers of Gaspé badly needs rain. As of July 4th, the water flow recording station located 1.4 km downstream from Dinner Island Creek indicates a flow of 5.5 cubic meters per second. The result of the count will be shared when it is available at http://saumongaspe.com/la-peche-au-saumon/conditions-de-peche/
** Available capture data is to June 24.
Amélie Thériault of Quebec City releases a nice specimen back to the Bonaventure River.- Photo Olivier Thériault
Bonaventure salmon with sea lice - a fish new from the ocean on June 24, 2018. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Bonaventure River on June 26, 2018. Nathan Wilbur/ASF
The July 1 counts came out on Wednesday, and make interesting reading.
It is great news to have the Exploits and Campbellton rivers having good returns again. But numbers seem uncertain in the western part of the province at this time, and for the Conne they continue to be very low.
Numbers are not yet available for Labrador.
Don Ivany, ASF Director of Programs for Newfoundland and Labrador, noted on Wednesday:
Last week reports increased of anglers hooking a few fish on most rivers throughout the Island of NL. But there were no reports from anglers in Labrador as it was still early for that region and water levels were still very high making fishing near impossible. In fact Paul Smith and his party went to the Pinware River last week but very high water levels prevented them from doing so.
Leo White, Acting President of SCNL, and two of his fishing partners spent a few days on the Grand Codroy River early last week and reported mediocre fishing. Water levels were pretty good and temperatures cold. They hooked a few large fish between them but nothing to brag about. They also fished Robinsons and did not see any fish there.
Andrew English had a good day fishing on Crabbes River on this past Sunday hooking three grilse. Water levels were high on the river at the time. In fact the Harry’s River counting fence washed out again this past week-end.
Cindy Humber, who along with husband Ray Humber, who operate a lodge on the Serpentine River, reports that their first guest got off to a great start early last week. Between them their party hooked and released about a dozen large fish all ranging from 10—15lbs. Water was a little on the high side and water temperatures were cold.
High water levels on the Humber River at Big Falls was limiting angler participation early in the week but in the couple of areas where anglers could fish they were reporting hooking a few large fish in the 8-12lb range. Water levels started to recede about mid-week and things started to improve, but then heavy rain in the latter part of the week caused the river to go extremely high making fishing near impossible. Similarly the heavy rain caused most rivers on the Northern Peninsula to swell their banks making fishing near impossible. Eric Patey, a float plane pilot from the River of Ponds area reports that there is still a lot of snow on the mountains in that area which he expects will keep the rivers high for another week or so.
Dave Vardy reported good fishing on the Raggot Harbour River last week, and most anglers fishing that river were reporting the same. There was a good sign of fish in the river, both grilse and a few large, and 10 fish were hooked in one evening on one stretch of the river.
Similar reports indicate that the fishing picked up on the Gander and Exploits Rivers in Central NL last week. The DFO counting fence reports indicate that returns to those rivers are up from last years reports for the same time period, although they are still well below the previous five year average counts. Again, heavy rain late last week and into this past week-end cause water levels to rise quickly on these rivers making it difficult to angle, and as a result angler success as since slowed. Things are expected to pick up again when water levels recede, but for now more rain is in the forecast for the near future.
Penobscot - As of July 2 the Milford Fishlift is reporting 435 large salmon and 118 grilse, totalling 553. Jason Valliere of Maine's Department of Marine Resources, said at the end of last week:
Narraguagus - This Downeast river has had 20 large salmon and 11 grilse as of July 2.
Salmon are still coming in steadily – a little slower than we all would like to see. River temperature’s thus far have stayed relatively cool which is good, but we need some rain to bump up river flows and bring more fish up the river.
Kennebec - This river has had seven large salmon and 3 grilse.