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Smolts Ready to Bolt
by Graham on 

The field work continued this week as the smolt runs had started in strength on both branches of the Miramichi River. Heather is on the Northwest, tagging smolt near Trout Brook. I've just returned from the Main Southwest where we released 80 tagged smolt. In both cases the fish were caught and relesed in the same location. Thanks to staff at the Miramichi Salmon Association and Rocky Brook camp for all their help with this project.


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Down But Not Out.
by Graham on 

The enormous rains over Eastern Canada over the past week have left (or maybe they haven't left yet) the rivers high and the tags dry. Conditions are difficult and dangerous for anglers in many places and we haven't been able to tag the kelts as we normally would. The Restigouche and Cascapedia Rivers are in such a state that we're not sure conditions will allow us to tag before the salmon leave the river. This is a yearly activity that would normally be done by about now, but we're still waiting to go.


Not all is lost however, eight kelts were acoustically tagged on the Northwest Miramichi on Friday. Thanks go as always to the volunteer anglers who caught the fish for the exercise. We were planning on tagging 25 on each of the three rivers, so eight isn't great, but when working with wild animals and in the field, things don't always go as planned.


We'll keep a weather eye on conditions and the outllook and maybe we'll get out again. Otherwise it will be on to smolt tagging on the same three rivers, hopefully the rivers don't stay too high for the smolt wheels to operate for too long, we'd like to see the entire range of the runs and not just the tail end. Fingers crossed.

Graham Chafe, ASF Research.

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River Takes Early Series Lead, Anglers Look to Rebound in Game 2
by Graham on 

This blog could also have been titled "Muddy Waters Sings the Blues". Despite a great showing by volunteers on the Northwest Miramichi on Sunday, anglers were skunked and no fish were tagged. The water was very high and looked more like a double double than a salmon river.  The continued rains continue to keep the water high so as of now, we're planning to try again on Friday and Saturday, May 5th and 6th. The forecast suggests a lot of rain on Saturday, but if people will fish, the water won't have risen yet and it might be okay.

If you or someone you know are interested in angling and helping out near Red Bank on Friday and/or Saturday, please contact me by email; gchafe@asf.ca I can then update folks if the situation changes.




The Restigouche and Cascapedia Rivers are in the same situation, so we won't be trying them until next week.   Hopefully conditions improve by then.

Graham Chafe, ASF Research.

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Ready, Set, Go.
by Graham on 

This week begins a flurry of field work for the Research Department that will see us tagging on three rivers, deploying equipment in fresh and sea water and travelling from southwest New Brunswick to Newfoundland and possibly beyond.

Weeks of preparation paid off this morning at 6am when Mike and Eric left with the boat to go deploy acoustic receivers in the Miramichi River.They'll be back in a day or two, only to pick up more gear and head north again. If all goes well the Chaleur line will be out this weekend followed by more in the Miramichi, Restigouche and Cascapedia Rivers.



For my part, I've been preparing the tags and tagging equipment. I'll be leaving early Sunday morning for Red Bank on the Miramichi where we hope to acoustically tag 25 kelts from the Northwest on Sunday and Monday. We rely on volunteer anglers to capture the fish so anyone in the area can look for ASF and MSA staff on the river and at the Red Bank boat launch if you want to help out. We couldn't do this without the volunteer anglers and we really appreciate the help from everyone that lends a hand. It is always a fun and interesting couple of days and it looks like the weather will be good this year.

From there, I'll be headed to the Restigouche River for another 25 tags on Tuesday and Wednesday where we'll be happy to have any help we can get with the angling. We'll be stationed on the Quebec side, just up from the Matapedia and easy to find. Once that is done I'm off to the Cascapedia with the last 25 kelt tags. One week, three great rivers and hopefully 75 beautiful salmon.

Graham Chafe, ASF Research.

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You Know Nothing, Jon Snow
by Graham on 

The spring and open water are in sight. Though the winter wasn't too harsh for many of us, it is always nice to feel the sun and see it warm things up. Many of the rivers in southern New Brunswick have been free for a few weeks but the lakes are still quiet under the ice.

Along with the warm weather, the ASF Research Department is getting ready to head out across Atlantic Canada for field work. It is always an exciting and hectic time of year. Despite the best planning, the season seems to sneak up on us. We have more on deck than usual this year so even more preparations are required. Mike is hard at work rigging up the receiver deployments and getting the boats ready, Jason and Heather are trying to get as much 'winter' stuff done before we head out of the office for a few weeks and Eric and I are planning logistics and readying equipment. Lots to do but we'll be ready.

First up will be deployments as soon as the ice is more or less out followed quickly (and potentially before if the ice doesn't cooperate) will be kelt tagging. This year we'll be tagging post-spawn salmon on three rivers instead of two. Cascapedia kelts will join the ranks of tracked fish for us this year and we're excited to compare timing and patterns to our two more established tracking rivers.

A few weeks yet to go, but as nobody ever said on Game of Thrones, "Spring is Coming".

Graham Chafe, ASF Research.

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Across the Pond and Far Afield
by Graham on 

Despite the snow and cold winds these days, the 2017 field season has officially begun. The crew was recently up at the Miramichi Salmon Association to start the season's tagging. In the fall, the MSA caught some pre-smolts on both main branches of the river and has been holding them over winter in the hatchery. We tagged some of these fish last week and will continue to hold them until spring. While the smolt run is going strong in May, we'll tag some more that were held over winter and also our regular batch of smolts that are descending the river at that time. The idea is to tease out tag effects from the performance of the fish in the spring. The comparison of the different tagging treatments will help increase the understanding and accuracy of smolt survival, something that garners quite a lot of interest.


ASF Biologist Jason Daniels was in England this week at Berwick-Upon-Tweed attending and presenting at the From Headwater to Headland: Improving Smolt Survival in Rivers and Estuaries conference. It was hosted by the Atlantic Salmon Trust and the Tweed Foundation. Held to address key issues of improving salmon and sea trout smolt survival during the all-important early stages of their migration in rivers and estuaries. It is a subject and an issue that resonates on both sides of the Atlantic. Jason presented on ASF work entitled "Estimating Consumption of Acoustically Tagged Atlantic Salmon Smolt in the MIramichi River". It was a good chance to see what was working and to share ideas with researchers from other area sharing the same problems.


Graham Chafe, ASF Research

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Flying Fast at the Fredericton Fly Fishing Film Festival
by Graham on 

Last week's Fredericton Fly Fishing Film night was another success. It was well attended and everyone enjoyed the films that ranged from tarpon fishing to exploratory angling in Russia.



The ASF Research Department showed a short video of activities from last season, including some drone footage. More appropriately called a Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, the department purchased it last year with funds raised and donated by the 2016 film night. There was a learning curve for flight as well as the legal requirements as it is being used for research purposes rather than recreational. We'll be good to go this year right from the start and expect some great footage as well as some convenient uses of the UAV.

To see the ASF Research video, follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TekUPi5JShM

Graham Chafe, ASF Research.

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Dig Out and Get Out
by Graham on 

After the ice storm a couple of weeks ago, the blizzard on Monday and the storm coming tonight and tomorrow, some folks will be longing for the spring and salmon season. What better way to pass a wintry Thursday evening than watching some great fly-fishing films in the company of your fellow anglers? On Thursday the 23rd of February, the Fredericton Fly Fishing Film night goes to the Hugh John Fleming Centre's K.C. Irving Theater to present a couple of hours of great fly fishing movies.

Last year's event was a great success. For more details go to: https://www.facebook.com/events/752949358193856/?active_tab=about . We hope to see you there.


Graham Chafe, ASF Research.

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Read All About It
by Graham on 

Back in 2012, the ASF began a new tracking project on Miramichi salmon kelts and this month, the research was published in the peer-reviewed ICES (International Council for Exploration of the Seas) Journal of Marine Science. This project involved the use of pop-up archival satellite tags that record temperature, depth and light levels and store them on-board until it can be transmitted. At a predetermined date, or if the fish died, as determined by conditions the tag measured, the tags detached from the fish, floated to the surface and transmitted the recorded data to passing satellites. That data was used to reconstruct depth and temperature profiles as well as the probable track the fish took while tagged. It was the first study of its kind to show detailed analysis of movement of multiple Atlantic salmon in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Labrador Sea.

Over four years, we deployed 43 satellite tags on Miramichi kelts and 16 were used for this publication having traveled a suitable distance and time in the marine environment. We learned that fish from the same river exhibit a variety of migration paths, use a variety of habitats and display individual diving behaviours. The salmon used a wide area of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Labrador Sea. Some followed the coast line after passing the Strait of Belle Isle while others made their way off the continental shelf entirely. One of those salmon far from the continent recorded dives to over 900m.

The field work was undertaken by staff from the ASF and Miramichi Salmon Association, who also supported the project. All the fish were angled by volunteers without whom we could not have completed the research. The analysis was completed by the lead author, John Strom from the Arctic University of Norway, who stayed with us here in New Brunswick for several months while we completed the work and the publication. Further analysis and research while be conducted using data from some of these and other satellite tags deployed by the ASF.

Follow this link to read more about the paper as well as find links to the paper itself:  http://asf.ca/tracking-at-sea-reveals-behaviour-of-migrating-salmon.html


Graham Chafe, ASF Research.

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Happy Holidays
by Graham on 



Happy Holidays from the ASF Research Team.


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