For many rivers, 2016 has been a year of either too much water, or not enough. Right now Nova Scotia could use a great deal of rain, and some areas of Quebec, especially the North Shore, could use more. The Restigouche was low; so low that some camps, including Larry's Gulch, cancelled trips. No one seriously asks for a hurricane, but a sideswipe with its complement of rain would be welcome in some of these areas right now.
Meanwhile there have been times and places with an overabundance of rain. Those same Quebec North Shore rivers and some Gaspé rivers had extremely high water levels in June, making the rivers great for salmon but unfishable for anglers. The Miramichi in New Brunswick has had its water level ups and downs in 2016, but overall it has been doing alright when compared with some other areas.
Pourvoirie Nabispi panorama where the river meets the ocean. Photo Eric Walsh
Low water conditions were a major factor affecting angling success during August. But with a little bit of luck and a few remnants of hurricane’s from the south angling should improve. There is no lack of salmon in most rivers.
** Data used in the Quebec River Notes are sourced from various river websites, social media and Quebec government sources.
Note: Live Release of salmon measuring more than 63 cm is re-implemented as of September 1.
Cascapedia Society manager Darlene Sexton is reporting 213 salmon have been released for the month to August 20 which brings the total of fish landed to date for the season to 1,779. Complete details to August 31 should be available in next weeks’ notes.
Travis Condo releases an Atlantic salmon at Alder Island on the Cascapedia. Photo Quentin Condo
Especially on the Miramichi, the conditions are certainly coming close to ideal.
Nice evening for salmon anglers on Aug. 30, 2016 at Boiestown on the Southwest Miramichi. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Nathan Wilbur, ASF's Director of New Brunswick Programs notes:
I haven’t heard many fishing reports this past week, but I can say that water levels and conditions have been very good for the fish and fishing in the Miramichi system over the past few days. There was a big raise in water last week and levels have gradually been going down to produce very nice fishing conditions.
Temperatures have also gone down, allowing the salmon to spread out from their cold water holding areas. Some bright salmon are coming in from the sea with the good water, but most reports I’ve heard have been of salmon that are a bit coloured and have been in the river for some time, making the transition to their fall spawning colours.
As fishing camps slow down and close up for the season on the Restigouche, the Nepisiguit and Miramichi gear up for what we all hope will be a good fall fishing season. It is starting off right with good water conditions.
Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures notes:
Water levels have come up and are at a prime level for fishing for the next two weeks. Temperatures have fallen making the salmon much more active. We are catching both salmon and grilse, with some being loaded with sea lice, fresh from the ocean. Great success is being had in the upriver pools where the salmon have been stacking up for the past three months. Fall colours are arriving in both salmon and leaves. Wonderful fall season shaping up.
Some DFO information for the end of August has just been posted on their website:
The Southwest Millerton Trapnet on the Southwest Miramichi has had 746 grilse and 530 large salmon to Aug. 31, compared with 1,174 grilse and 471 large to the same date in 2015.
The Dungarvon Barrier on the Southwest Miramichi is reporting 133 grilse and 109 large salmon to Aug. 28 this year, vs 154 grilse and 147 large salmon to the same date in 2015.
The Northwest Cassilis Trapnet has had only 363 grilse, but also 355 large salmon to Aug. 31, compared with 1,278 grilse and 291 large salmon to the same date in 2015.
On the Northwest Miramichi, the barrier count is 215 grilse and 79 large salmon to Aug. 28, vs 187 grilse and 64 large salmon to the same date in 2015.
Good water on the Cains River on Aug. 27, 2016. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF
St. John River - There have been 482 grilse and 173 large salmon to Aug. 31 at Mactaquac, compared with 603 grilse and 291 large salmon in 2015. This repeats the common pattern of a considerable drop in grilse numbers this year, but a somewhat better large salmon year.
Nashwaak River - There have been 287 grilse and 43 large salmon to Aug. 31, compared with 195 grilse and 30 large salmon in 2015. Nice to see the Nashwaak with more grilse this year than last.
Magaguadavic River - ASF monitors this fishway. There have been only 2 grilse and no large salmon to Aug. 31 this year, compared with 6 grilse and 2 large salmon to the same date in 2015.
Restigouche System - In some areas the lack of water hit hard.
Arnold Vautour of Larry's Gulch notes:
This year was not a good year for fishing at Larry’s Gulch because of the need to cancel fishing due to the very low water levels. In June we cancelled the fishing for two parties due to exactly the opposite problem - water levels too high and dangerous. So June was too high, and August too low, and we have now closed for the 2016 season.
We caught and released 196 salmon in total for the year, with one person releasing a 47.3 lb monster. We also caught some very nice large salmon in June.
The total of 196 for the year was divided into 82 large salmon and 114 grilse.
The Upsalquitch Barrier has very low numbers. To Aug. 28 they have counted 212 grilse and 107 large salmon, compared to 573 grilse and 154 large salmon to the same date in 2015.
The Upsalquitch Barrier went up late this year, around July 1, but the grilse normally are later than that, indicating a significant decline in the grilse return this year. It is possible that some large salmon arrived early, as they did in many other rivers in 2016, but the grilse particularly are a concern.
The Margaree, as well as dozens of other Nova Scotia rivers, have had an extended dry period that is raising concerns among some conservationists.
The Margaree did get a nice bump of rain, but could use significantly more. See chart below.
Overall, the Margaree continues to have one of the best returns of Atlantic salmon in the region.
Sackville River has had only 9 grilse and 2 large salmon to Aug. 31, vs. 29 grilse and 2 large salmon to the same date in 2015.
LaHave - The Morgan Falls fishway is reporting only 3 grilse and 30 large salmon to Aug. 31, compared to 150 grilse and 17 large salmon in 2015. This is a critically low return for this formerly important salmon river.
Newfoundland & Labrador
ASF's Director of Newfoundland and Labrador Programs Don Ivany is reporting the conditions have significantly improved in many rivers in the past week.
In the west of the island, rain in the past week has raised the water levels to the point where they are on the high side in some locations.
On the north side of Newfoundland, DFO has reopened many rivers closed previously due to high temperatures and low levels. Check the lists at http://www.nfl.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/NL/River-Status/In-Season
DFO has not updated the Barrier Counts since Aug. 21.
It is likely there will be more anglers on Newfoundland rivers in the next week, since the season closes on all but three rivers on Sept. 7.
In Labrador, the Pinware has seen some good fishing in the last few days.
The Flowers River has decent fishing and good angling conditions, as noted from a report on Wednesday evening.