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ASF RIVERNOTES Sept 22 2016

For the most part, ASF RIVERNOTES reports on streams and rivers where Atlantic salmon have been well established for generations, including those with robust runs, and some where the Atlantic salmon populations have declined to numbers that can be considered low, and in some cases critically low, such as in the St. John River.

We also need to point out there are also rivers where the Atlantic salmon population is part of an ecologically healthy resurgence. Rivers biologically reborn with salmon runs need to be seen as part of the whole picture.

In Nova Scotia, the counting fence temporarily in place on West River Sheet Harbour showed that more than two dozen Atlantic salmon had come back to that acid rain-impacted river, after about seven years of lime-dosing in the watershed. This was like a miracle, but a miracle made by salmon conservationists in NSSA and ASF.


In Newfoundland there are other success stories, and among them is Corner Brook Stream. This had no Atlantic salmon, and through the years, and in no small part due to seeding with fry from ASF Fish Friends programs, there is now a healthy run of adult Atlantic salmon of more than 120 fish returning each year.

In New Brunswick one river everyone is watching is the Petitcodiac, and its major tributary, the Pollett River. This river was essentially sealed off for many years, and is now slowly building up a community that includes many native migrant species.

ASF's Director of New Brunswick Programs, Nathan Wilbur, has this to say:

Assessment work remains steady on the Petitcodiac River to monitor the systemís response after opening the causeway gates permanently in 2010.  Fort Folly Habitat Recovery operates a trapnet counting station to document the systemís recovery and interesting it has been to see the daily catch! Although there hasnít been an Atlantic salmon return yet in 2016, a myriad of other species important to the ecosystem have been showing up. For example, here is the September 15th catch at the trapnet:

876 gaspereau, 122 striped bass, 34 American eel, 7 yellow perch, 1 tomcod, 36 shiners, 11 mummichog, 101 silverside, and 4 three-spined stickleback. Something that stands out is the Atlantic silversides.  Only 1 was caught in 2014, and it was the first.  In 2015 there were 5 of them.  So in 2016 getting 101 in one day is worthy of note.
 
Over time, this will all help provide the base for the ecosystem to help in the recovery of Atlantic salmon in the Petitcodiac.



Tom Robinson of Fort Folly Habitat Recovery releases a female into the Petitcodiac River system to spawn, on 29 Oct. 2015. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Every Atlantic salmon river matters. Every one of these rivers has a role to play in maintaining salmon genetic diversity. Every one of these rivers matters in keeping us connected to the rivers, and to the salmon.

New Brunswick

Miramichi - Overall, recent rains have raised anticipation on salmon entering the river. As the graph below shows, there have been some helpful rain events in the past few days:



Southwest Miramichi - The Millerton Trapnet had 791 grilse and 568 large salmon to Sept. 15. To the same date in 2015 there were 1,220 grilse and 481 large salmon.

The Dungarvon Trap has recorded a single new grilse and single large salmon in the week ending Sept. 18, bringing the total to 140 grilse and 113 large salmon. This is compared with 163 grilse and 154 large salmon to the same date in 2015.

Northwest Miramichi - The Cassilis Trapnet had 370 grilse and375 large salmon to Sept. 15, while in 2015 at the same date there were 1,325 grilse and 310 large salmon.

The Northwest Barrier is reporting 229 grilse and 81 large salmon to Sept. 18, close to last year's 225 grilse and 73 large salmon to the same date.


Howard Gould released a large female Atlantic salmon, a photo that appeared last week. The fish was tagged and he just received information that the fish had been tagged 3 June 2014 in the Cassilis Trapnet on the Northwest Miramichi. At that time it measured 77.2 m, and this year it was 107cm.  As Howard Gould says, "repeat spawners rock". Photo Paul Elson

Magaguadavic - This river in southwest New Brunswick has had a rough time for salmon returns this year. Of wild salmon, only two grilse and no large salmon to Sept 15, compared to 6 grilse and 3 large salmon in 2015. Unfortunately the river has also had 27 farmed salmon escapees.

St. John River - Mactaquac has had 483 grilse and kkk large salmon to Sept. 15, compared with 603 grilse and llll large salmon to the same date in 2015.

Nashwaak River -
There have been 292 grilse and 43 large salmon to Sept. 15, 2016, vs. 196 grilse and 30 large salmon to the same date in 2015.


After a rain on the Nashwaak River at the very end of August, 2016. The river has been doing better in 2016 than it did in 2015. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Jacquet River - The Atlantic salmon are DEFINITELY COMING IN! This river is definitely the "GOOD NEWS STORY" of the week. In the seven days up to Sept. 18 the counting fence had 30 grilse and 71 large salmon. Thus the total to Sept. 18, 2016 is 136 grilse and 187 large salmon, compared to the 2015 numbers of 57 and 23. Something good is definitely happening on the Jacquet River!


Salmon lazing in a pool in the Jacquet River in 2015. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Nova Scotia

While drought conditions still threaten Nova Scotia's rivers there has been some run in places like Cape Breton. See the Cheticamp River photo taken Sept. 20, 2016 below.


Cheticamp River on the morning of Sept. 20, 2016. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF.

Sackville River - To Sept. 15, 9 grilse and 2 large salmon have been reported, compared with 29 grilse and 2 large salmon to the same date in 2015. Concerns remain about the low water.

LaHave - There have been only 3 grilse and 30 large salmon to Sept. 15 this year, compared with 151 grilse and 17 large salmon in 2015. As stated previously, a run of 3 grilse is a critical time for this river. The average number of grilse between 1993 and 1997 was 721.

Quebec

Mother Nature has continued to deliver rain for most Quebec rivers, and flows have spiked dramatically in a very short time.  Hopefully, conditions will settle down in time to provide great levels to finish off the season.  

** Data used in the Quebec river notes are sourced from various river websites, social media and Quebec government sources.


Mann Pool on the Matapedia River, this past weekend, just before the latest rains.  Photo Dan Greenberg