A Maine Celebration
In Maine on Tuesday, it was a milestone as the completion of the Howland Fish Bypass was celebrated, with about 300 folks in attendance. It has taken 16 years to complete this major Penobscot River restoration project, but even as we stood around watching the water roar down the bypass from the Piscataquis River, supposedly the first tagged salmon had already made it up this man-made rapids. While the passage of the salmon is unconfirmed by the author, it came from a reliable source - Bucky Owen.
This is the longest man-made "natural" dam bypass in the United States, and was engineered for the fish itself. Boulders to shelter behind, lengths of quiet water, and a deep, narrow central channel, with a wider channel for higher flows that still allows salmon and other migrating fish to edge up in relatively calm waters at the edge.
Look for more details in a future issue of the Atlantic Salmon Journal.
Meanwhile, Atlantic salmon are still arriving and being counted at the Milford Fish Lift, some miles downstream from Howland.
Mitch Simpson, Scientist with the Maine DMR says:
"As of June 14, we have caught 197. American shad are also still coming in and as of today, we‘ve observed 3,250. River herring are slowing down and the run seems to be coming to an end. We have passed nearly 1,250,000. River temperatures have dropped over the past week from around 20°C to just over 15°C."
In a single word - Rain!
ASF's Nathan Wilbur has this to say:
Cold and wet! Great weather and water conditions to draw in salmon on New Brunswick’s rivers so far in June. Widespread rains last week brought rivers way up all across the province but they are now coming down to a nice “fishably high” level. There is lots of water for the salmon to start their migration up the rivers, which is how we want it in June. There have been scattered reports of salmon caught on the Restigouche system, and some salmon hooked on both the NW and SW Miramichi. Surprisingly, the first report I heard of a salmon landed on the SW Miramichi was from the Juniper area (see picture). This is more than 200 km upriver from salt water – talk about an early run fish!
Above: Nepisiquit Falls roaring on June 9, 2016.
On the Northwest Miramichi, the Counting Fence needed to be temporarily taken out of operation due to especially high rainfall, with flow curling around the edges of the structure.
LaHave - As of June 16, there were 30 large salmon and three grilse at the Morgan Falls Fishway.
Greg Lovely notes:
There are still very few fish in the river and the odd fish is being hooked from time to time. Water levels remain pretty good,although we could use a good bump for the Northeast branch,which is dropping quickly. The temperatures, both air and water remain quite cool, which bodes well for the salmon that are here so far.
As always, it is too early to tell what the year holds for salmon returns. But so far the season has been both wet and cool, as in most other regions. Here are some returns:
The water levels are illustrated by the graph below of the Bonaventure River.
The first fishway counts are posted, as of June 12, 2016, and they make interesting reading. Lower in Harry's River, and higher in several others.