ASF RIVERNOTES - 2 Nov., 2017

In hundreds of rivers throughout Atlantic Canada and New England, Atlantic salmon are digging deep redds and laying eggs in the gravel that will hatch next year, continuing the unbroken chain of wild Atlantic salmon. Here's hoping that winter and spring conditions are favourable, allowing the maximum number of eggs to hatch when the weather warms again.

The 2017 season ended Oct. 31, with some rivers holding out special treats for the hardy angler.

Prince Edward Island

In Prince Edward Island, a 25" Morell salmon caught at Grant’s Bridge.  29 Oct. 2017. Photo Taylor Main

Taylor Main has these notes on the tail end of this season:

With the season having been closed by the time that this hits the web, it is an opportunity to reflect on 2017's Atlantic salmon experiences. This fall will truly be remembered as the lowest water levels in memory.  Conversely, it will also be remembered for welcomed strong returns of salmon to a number of Island systems.  Final numbers or not I think all can agree that this was a good year.  As one friend of mine remarked after a meeting earlier this afternoon, “when did you last hear talk at a meeting about PEI rivers full of fish?”

Father and son fish Indian Bridge Pool on the Morell River under sunny skies on  24 Oct. 2017.  Photo Taylor Main

Morell River

The extended season on the Morell started and ended strong this year. Fish appeared several weeks earlier than in the past five seasons and once they came in they were followed up by consistent pods of fresh fish and a large run of grilse to top it all off.  To complement the grilse numbers, most salmon anglers and conservationists are convinced that the returns of large salmon are also on the rise.

Grant’s Bridge Pool (foreground) and the Island Pool (downstream) on the Morell on 21 Oct. 2017.  Photo Taylor Main

I personally witnessed ten fish hooked in the past five days, three of which had sea lice.  The word on the river is that there were likely closer to twenty fish encountered during the same period.  At the same time, I’ve observed fish moving upstream coming on dark each night to their traditional spawning beds up-river.  Next week should bring a great show of this centuries old ritual.

Nova Scotia


Greg Lovely has this to say about the end of the season in the Margaree valley:

Fall colors have now faded, but the enthusiasm of some diehard salmon fishermen remained as they finished off the remaining few days of the 2017 season. The rain that gave New Brunswick upwards of 150mm missed the Margaree entirely. The water remains very low for this time of year.

Almost every good holding pool I have checked has good numbers of salmon in them, and only a few salmon are being hooked. Although it is anecdotal information, the run of salmon seemed good in 2017
despite the drought conditions.

On Oct. 27 the autumn colours were fading - and the water still low - but Atlantic salmon were coming in.
Photo Greg Lovely

Northumberland Strait Rivers

Released at 12:31 p.m. on October 31st, this may be the last Atlantic salmon of the 2017 season. Kiel Vessey angled this fish released it at 12:31 pm on Oct. 31 in the Town Pool, River Philip, N.S. Kiel is a dedicated conservationist and a member of the ASF PEI Fundraising Committee. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

At Spencer's Bridge on the River Philip at noon on Oct. 31. The water has come up a bit, but certainly more rain would be a good thing.  Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF

Angler Jesse Gravel has these notes on the situation at the end of the season for the Northumberland Strait Rivers, which includes the River Philip:

Most rivers in the area received the rain we needed and many anglers were soon out on the rivers. The Wallace was quite busy and I heard the Philip was even better.

I personally couldn't fool any fish on the weekend but it was quite a thrill to swing flies over groups of large salmon in the Wallace. They were a tough quarry from seeing so many flies, but anglers were still managing to hook up with some great fish. It was quite fruitful on the river; lots of happy faces.

Wallace River on the evening of Sun., Oct. 27. Water levels had risen with the needed rain. Glorious autumn conditions. Photo Jesse Gravel

On Oct. 31, Jesse Gravel  reflected on the season's end:

Today was the last day of the season and I made it out with a good friend on the West River Pictou in the morning, as well as the Waugh River for the afternoon. I successfully played two feisty grilse on the West, while the Waugh River was still a bit on the low side.

Most of the fall run angling here was slow, but it would be hard to complain after the last five days around the rivers. Good
numbers of fish, happy anglers, that's what it's all about!

Sounds like a great end of the season - one to remember and reflect on in the colder months. Hopefully the good Nova Scotia runs mean more eggs for the spring.

New Brunswick

The incredible rains we had last week in the western part of the province, up to 150 mm, caused the tributaries of both the Miramichi and the Restigouche to rise quickly. For the salmon, this was welcome for the final push to the headwater spawning areas. Hopefully it will result in high egg deposition.

The heavy rains resulted in higher levels, and eventually affected downstream waters, including Blackville on the Southwest Miramichi.

Now we all hope Atlantic salmon find those spawning areas, and that redd (nest) counts in the next few weeks will point to high in-river production.



Jason Valliere, Scientist with the Maine Department of Marine Resources, wrote on Nov. 1 concerning the Milford Fish Lift:

Since the last report we have passed 25 recaptured Grilse, 1 recaptured multi sea-winter female that was originally captured and tagged at Orono, and 1 multi sea-winter new male.

We also saw the annual fall push of white suckers.  Passing around 200 before the flood. 

The fishway gates blew open due to high flows and debris on 10/27.  Since then the gates have been left open. We will get counts from Brookfield based on what they can see coming out of the hoper until fishway becomes fishable again.  I will get a final report out some time after we close the fishway for the season on November 15th.



The storied Laerdal River is now free of Gyrodactylus, and open to salmon angling. Photo Pål Mugaas

Pål Mugaas gives this fantastic update for one of Norway’s best known rivers, the Laerdal. Perhaps it does not have the largest salmon in Norway, nor is it at the top of the list for production – but the Laerdal is both much loved for its salmon angling experiences and has its share of legends surrounding it.

Again, rotenone treatment has made the difference in eliminating the disastrous presence of Gyrodactylus, a parasite inadvertently transferred from Baltic rivers where it was not nearly as devastating.

Pål Mugaas says:

We have more great news. Today the Norwegian minister of climate and environment, Vidar Helgesen, declared the world famous Lærdal River free from the parasite Gyrodactylus salaris.

Lasse Sælthun, leader of the Lærdal River Owners Association, says that this is a new beginning. The river owners can finally look forward and concentrate on developing the river. The salmon ladders in the upper part can be reopened so that salmon and sea trout can use the entire river up to Borgund. This opens up large production areas that have hitherto been closed off because of the parasite.

The fight against gyro in the National Salmon River Lærdalselva has been difficult, but in the end a combination of Rotenone and acid aluminium seems to have done the trick. The Norwegian professional community responsible for combating gyro is world-leading - unfortunately so because 50 infected Norwegian rivers have provided them a solid foundation for developing good fighting strategies.

Now only seven rivers remains to be treated.

The fight against gyro in Lærdal has been important not only for Lærdal River, but for all the rivers in the Sognefjord area.

Laerdal in the middle of summer.
There is a great opportunity coming up, according to Pål Mugaas:

For those eager to fish Lærdal, Årøy, Alta or other rivers next season, we recommend the annual auction run by the NASF Norway. The auction takes place on the 9th of November. More information on a nice combo of Lærdal and Årøy at  http://reddvillaksen.no/aroy-laerdal-engelsk/
All fishing is donated and the money collected goes to the preservation of salmon and sea trout in Norway.
 To participate in the auction, please contact jonawalle@gmail.com for more information on how to bid etc.

The Laerdal River is in the box area near the point of the red arrow.