The Threat from Striped Bass
Striped Bass 50 cm. long, caught in sampling fyke net on Petitcodiac River where sampling of species is taking place.
Striped Bass are making many people nervous these days. As the numbers have exploded in recent years, there has been serious concern about the impact they are having on Atlantic salmon smolts. But always there was the understanding they were a threat in the lower part of the river systems.
Not any more. We are hearing of a number of reports of Striped Bass now far up river systems. Camp Bonaventure is reporting their presence. And various anglers have discovered them on the end of their line in the Cascapedia. Previously we had reported Striped Bass far up the Restigouche Watershed.
The concern is particularly with the voracious appetite of these fish, and the change of ecological balance it might bring to Atlantic salmon parr numbers in these various watersheds.
If you have accurate reports this year of Striped Bass far up river systems, a long way from estuaries and the sea, send us an email with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The populations do not need new and expanding stressors to challenge the numbers eventually heading downstream as smolt.
ASF's Andy Goode releases a healthy female Atlantic salmon on the Cascapedia River in late June 2017.
There is good news and there is bad news.
For good news, some Atlantic salmon are returning; perhaps late in their arrival.
The bad news is the numbers are lower, and if other years are anything to go on, we are not likely to see those numbers made up by season's end. Another concern is that the changes in currents that brought large quantities of ice onto the north side of the island may also be indicating changes in the ocean system itself, affecting food supplies. We will all be waiting to see what develops, with no control over the in-migration of the fish.
The numbers for the counting facilities are now up for July 9, and make interesting reading.
Some of the numbers need explanation. Rocky River had a disaster in 2015 and on into 2016 when DFO destroyed and rebuilt the fishway that was essential for migration. No surprise then that numbers are better in 2017.
In talking with the Torrent River Interpretation Centre - a great place to see Atlantic salmon in the glass-sided fishway - there appears to be no apparent reason for the low numbers, except to note that in 2016 the salmon were early. We would definitely recommend a stop at the facility if you are driving through the Hawke's Bay area on the highway up the Northern Peninsula.
Watching Atlantic salmon in the Torrent River fishway. Photo Don Ivany/ASF
Some rivers are seeing Atlantic salmon. Rick Madigan has been out a few times recently. These are his comments:
July 6: Just back from the Upper Salmonier, Released two lovely fish this morning. Water conditions are excellent, medium - high and Temps are fine, 18C. Fishing has been good for the last week as we finally had rain. The first 3 weeks of the season were a disaster - no water at all. I don't expect the good fishing to last though as the salmon are rushing through, they are a good 10 days late. And overall I would just describe the run as average in number - nothing great but certainly okay. At least 90% of the salmon hooked are being released. Great to see.
July 10: Just back again from the Upper Salmonier. More rain, river higher and the run is still good. Lots of anglers.
When river levels cooperate, angling just below Big Falls on the Humber River can be a long-remembered experience. Taken in another year, around Juy 1. Photo Tom Moffatt/ASF
Barb Genge of Tuckamore Lodge, located near the top of the Northern Peninsula says:
Fishing is so, so. In places good but not great like last year with water levels this year high and blowing a gale every day. Seems fish have all moved on and the water is also dirty due to wind.
My Head Guides was out today with two people from NB and they hooked and released two fish and had several hits or fish approach the hook but not released, guess it was nice to see the fish.
After being out on the river, one of the lounge areas in Tuckamore Lodge helps with the aching muscles. Tom Moffatt/ASF
Like Newfoundland, Labrador rivers were extremely high, and the salmon were late coming.
As of July 9, the Sand Hill River has recorded 116 grilse and 36 large salmon, compared with 67 grilse and 175 large salmon in 2016.
Muddy Bay Brook has had 20 grilse and just two large salmon to July 9, compared with 27 grilse and two large salmon in 2016.
Paradise River is reporting no grilse and 2 large salmon, compared with 9 grilse and 2 large salmon in 2016.
Pratt Falls Lodge on the Eagle River reports that between July 4 and July 9 that more than 100 fish were hooked, with about 80% large salmon. Water levels are on the high side, and at the moment appear to be rising.
Keeping the Atlantic salmon in the water. A beautiful fish allowed to continue its migration upstream. Photo Dan Greenberg
From Charles Cusson, ASF Director of Quebec Programs, from somewhere in the Gaspé:
Thank you, Mother Nature! The rain came to help the York and Dartmouth rivers in Gaspé. They had been suffering through mid-August-like conditions since late June. The Gaspé Zec should soon be announcing results from the in-river counts. This will give us an idea what the remainder of the season will be like, and naturally we are keeping our fingers crossed.
Reminder to anglers fishing Quebec Rivers: take the time to report your releases to have the most accurate angling statistics and for the river managers to accurately calculate angling success.
The Ste-Anne-des-Monts River on the north side of the Gaspé Peninsula shows how the water levels have come up to good fishing levels after having been very low. Taken July 9, 2017. Photo Charles Cusson/ASF
York, Dartmouth and St-Jean Rivers
Results as of July 9 are available at:
The in-river count was completed on the York on July 9. The number of salmon counted (650) seems to indicate insufficient abundance to permit a harvest until the next count scheduled for late July.
John "Jack" Norwood Allman releases a 12lb Salmon in the 89 run of the Cascapedia July 5. Photo Salmon Lodge NEW BRUNSWICK
Southwest Miramichi -
The July 9 count has come if for the Dungarvon
, and it does make interesting reading. There were 33 grilse and 67 large salmon, making a nice round total of 100 Atlantic salmon. In 2016 there were 40 grilse and 50 large salmon to the same date. Brock Curtis of Curtis Miramichi Outfitters
We had some good news last Friday in regards to salmon numbers moving up the Main Southwest branch of the Miramichi. Word at the Tackle Shop was that they started moving up the river Friday and there were comments Saturday that they were still coming in. Prior to Sunday anglers seemed to be doing quite well on certain stretches of the river. The Miramichi Classic started Sunday and for some reason they became quite fussy and not a lot of salmon have been landed since then, although some of the participants said they were seeing salmon showing. One of the locals was telling me this morning he was struggling to fish for them at his pool because they were laying so close to the shore. So the numbers seem to be there but they are not taking very well. Expect we will start hearing comments in the next few days like "you should have been here yesterday".A photo of some MSA salmon classic participants on the SW Miramichi July 10. It's an event to introduce people to the variety of rivers and fishing that the Miramichi has to offer. This pool was generously donated by Country Haven for the classic. It is located below Blackville. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASFNorthwest Miramichi
- At the NW Barrier, to July 9 there are reported 38 grilse and 59 large salmon. A year ago there were 47 grilse and 38 large salmon.
Stephanie Elson releases a nice grilse on the Northwest Miramichi. Photo Paul Elson Jr.
On the Little Southwest Miramichi, Debbie Norton of Upper Oxbow Adventures
Catching has been slow but more and more fish are coming into our counting nets daily. Water levels are still good. Water temperatures are higher than we would like to see but air temperatures have been going down to 50 F for a few nights so will drop the water temperature.A lost world - on the Sevogle River, tributary of the NW Miramichi, in fog and rain on July 2. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Restigouche WatershedDanny Bird of Kedgwick Lodge
notes:Water level remains ideal. Fish are being released each outing. Last party released 40 plus fish. Large fish just slightly more than grilse. Overall conditions remain excellent.NOVA SCOTIACheticamp
- Lewis Hinks notes that in the past year or so several new pools have been formed, and are not even named yet. But like the nearby Margaree, it could use rain. Others have been improved due to a combination of engineering and heavy storms that actually improved on the engineered areas.First Pool on the Cheticamp River has improved in the past year - narrower and deeper. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF
has a few words to describe the situation:
Same old story - WE NEED RAIN!!! The salmon are still coming and the occasional fish is being hooked.Alex Breckenridge of The Tying Scotsman
noted that on Tues. three fish were hooked on the lower Margaree, and in the past few days it is evident that a long and profound rain is needed to bring the river back up.MAINE
has had encouraging numbers lately. As of July 10 there have been 499 large salmon and 248 grilse, totalling 747. This is far more than the entire year's total in 2016!
has had 30 large salmon and 2 grilse so far.John Burrows, ASF's Director of Programs for Maine
, added this to the Kennebec returns:
Just a couple of quick notes on the Kennebec returns. They’ve been doing an upstream passage study and to date have only recaptured 8 of the 20 tagged fish. Those other 12 fish are maybe being counted in the official return data, but they aren’t up in the Sandy yet. Hopefully they get recaptured, along with the other salmon that are being seen below the dam in Waterville.
What’s really cool is that two of the salmon taken up to the Sandy are 3SW females, both about 36 inches long!
The Alta has long been considered one of the great Norwegian salmon rivers. Chris Buckley recently completed a week there and offers this assessment:
Here is a final report on our Alta week. We had 104 salmon to our six rods, one of the best totals ever for this week. I was fortunate to take the largest - 20.2 kg. At least four, and probably double that, were taken over 40 lb on the river this week.
The run is huge and the river is full of fish. The downriver Raipas results have also been excellent, so the locals are doing well. They start fishing on the whole river tonight.
In sum, the future is bright for the Alta if aquaculture in the Altafjorden can be held in check. New take limits for the locals will also help.
The Altaelva Canyon with the Alta winding into the mist of a rainshower. Photo Glivi