ASF (Can) Director Matt Ramsay with a nice fall run 18 pound female salmon from the Miramichi. Note the adipose fin clip, so MSA stocked parr. Photo Oct. 7, 2016.

October rains are being unpredictable this year, perhaps impacting some late salmon returning to rivers. Certainly there was disappointment in some parts of the Miramichi with too little rain.

At the same time, central Newfoundland was inundated with the remnants of Hurricane Matthew, creating extreme high water and perhaps jeopardizing some juvenile salmon. In some parts of Nova Scotia, including the Margaree, there was a nice spike of water flow around Oct. 11. The Northeast Margaree, being a narrow valley, has dropped back considerably since.

Not only did the season largely wind up on Saturday, but October is also an important month for completing conservation projects on the rivers.

Lewis Hinks describes two amazing projects  in Nova Scotia in the Regional Blog. Check them out News from the Regions.

On other rivers he says:

West River in Antigonish is holding but dropping slowly. I have heard of some good fishing once that water cleared and settled a bit. I hear that water is dropping on a number of rivers and another blast of rain would be welcomed.

In New Brunswick, another special project was taking place on the Upper Salmon River, in Fundy National Park.

Nathan Wilbur, ASF's Director of New Brunswick Programs was there, along with Martin Silverstone, Editor of the Atlantic Salmon Journal, who is writing an article for the magazine. Nathan has this to say:

On October 12, staff at Fundy Park released 500 mature adult salmon into the Upper Salmon River. This small, gin-clear river is host to the endangered Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon, which are at critically low numbers.

The release was the annual climax of their “thinking outside the box” adult rearing program, which has been an impressive collaboration of between Parks Canada, academia, government, the aquaculture industry, the local First Nation and municipalities. The program involves collecting genetically appropriate juvenile salmon that have been wild exposed in the Park streams and transporting them out to custom sea cages off Grand Manan, made specifically for the project by Cooke Aquaculture.

Fish are raised until maturity in the cages and then returned to the river in the fall by helicopter to spawn on their own. Essentially, the project bypasses marine mortality and the intent is to produce historic smolt runs into the Bay of Fundy. While we need to keep focus on addressing the root causes of low marine mortality, we find the project very interesting and think there will be much to learn.

For example, if whatever threat it was that knocked down the population of IBoF salmon in the 1990s has now been reduced and the system just needs to be primed with wild Smolt (Parks project), then this project may be instrumental to the recovery. That is a hope at this point, but the project represents new thinking and has been a success story in collaboration. The true test of success will be if the smolt produced from these adults return to spawn on their own in sustainable numbers. All in all, congratulations to Parks Canada and the partners of this project for a successful release this week!

Upper Salmon River on Oct. 12, 2016. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Before the Salmon Angling Season ended on most rivers in New Brunswick on Saturday, Oct. 15, Nathan Wilbur had an opportunity to spend time on the Southwest Miramichi, and the Cains River.

Calvin Milbury releases a fine male Atlantic salmon on the Southwest Miramichi on Oct. 7, 2016. Photo Paul Milbury

Nathan Wilbur notes that with the lower water, the river was not seeing the major late migration it often has experienced through the years. Still there were Atlantic salmon, and with the cooler temperatures, they were more interested in a fly.

Just the opportunity to be on the river in October, with beautiful foliage and cool temperatures, is a great experience.

Kelsey Taylor plays a salmon on the Southwest Miramichi on Oct. 9, 2016, as newly fallen leaves dot the surface of the water.

Photos below on the Cains River:

The Cains River on Oct. 7 was showing its best autumn colours. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF