Bonaventure Release. Photo Claude Hamel
The middle of summer and most creatures, including the wild Atlantic salmon, slow down. Overall waters have high temperatures, and so the oxygen levels drop. Making things worse, many areas need rain, with the river levels low.
In some areas low water levels and high temperatures are bringing closures. If you are unsure whether a scheduled river ins open or closed, check on this page: http://www.nfl.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/NL/River-Status/In-Season
Don Ivany, ASF's Director of Newfoundland and Labrador programs brought to our attention two rivers in Zone 9 that were closed due to the low water an high temperatures on Aug. 3, Northwest Brook, Trepassey, and Peter's River.
The July 31 river counts are now available and do make interesting reading.
It is now clear that a part of the salmon run was in early this year, while other parts are late, or perhaps even missing after their experience at sea.
Exploits - is now falling below the returns of last year, with 21,293 to the end of July. We have come to expect such great things from this river that this number now seems low - but we still need to wait and see. Last year to the same date was 24,791.
Rocky River - One needs to ask what is going on with the brand new fishway built by DFO that caused consternation last summer with its "construction blockage" of the run, resulting in a relatively inefficient and unsuccessful effort to manually move the fish. Only 34 so far, and there should be many more.
Conne - The south coast rivers including the Conne are not doing well - back down to 1,224 to end of July compared with the 2323 last year and many thousands 20 years ago. This year's run is close to or at the historic low for this river.
Garnish - This river as well has not been doing well, with 187 to July 31 vs 606 in 2015.
West Coast Rivers have been holding their own this year. Harry's may be down a bit at 4,392, compared with 4,795 to the end of July last year, but compared with some other years it is doing alright.
Humber - Good reports of fish in the last few days on the lower Humber. One angler released a 25-pounder, and then the next day a nice 8-pounder as well. Nights have been very cool lately, so while there has been heat through the days, the early morning river temperatures are getting better.
Western Arm Brook has 1,379, a satisfying return, well above both last year's return and averages in the historic past.
Torrent River is still doing okay, with 3,575 compared with 3231 last year.
Eagle River - There seems to be something of a lull in the salmon runs at the moment that has developed over the past week or so. However, there are signs of new fish at the mouth of the river, so that could change in a few days.
The assessed runs in Labrador are rather lower than they were last year.
English River has had 151 grilse and 89 large salmon vs 182 grilse and 100 large salmon in 2015.
Sand Hill River has had only 942 grilse and 895 large salmon to July 31, vs. 2015's 1,910 grilse and 867 large salmon, a significant drop.
Muddy Bay Brook has had 152 grilse and 14 large salmon compared with 185 grilse and 17 large salmon in 2015.
Paradise River has only had 57 grilse and 23 large salmon vs. 137 grilse and 20 large salmon.
Geneviève Fournier releases a salmon on July 27 into Still Pool on the York River. Photograph Lise Nadeau
Salmon counts derived through in-river assessments and from fish counting infrastructures have been tabulated to determine whether numbers indicate that a limited harvest can take place as of August 1.
To date, harvests have been authorized as per the management plan on the following rivers: Dartmouth, St-Jean (Gaspé), Cap-Chat, Sainte-Anne, Madeleine, Matane and Mitis. Decisions remain to be released on other rivers.
Most rivers are reporting low water conditions. Any rain in the near future would be a very good thing.
Note that data included in the tables below is sourced from various river websites, social media and Quebec government sources.
York River -
On July 1, due to the lack of scientific data, the CGRMP decided to continue live release of large salmon until season end on August 31. This decision was taken in accordance with the new Quebec 10-year salmon management plan.
Misty morning on the Saint-Jean in Gaspé. Photo Seymour Balsen
Margaree - Greg Lovely notes the Margaree is now very low. "I'm waiting for rain before putting the waders on again"
He has noted the salmon lazing in the river below one of the bridges on Thursday morning:
Wild Atlantic salmon waiting for rain in the Margaree. Photo Greg Lovely
LaHave - Morgan Falls is reporting only 3 grilse and 30 large salmon to July 31, compared with 149 grilse and 17 large salmon last year to the same date. This must be close to a historic low for the LaHave, especially with regard to grilse.
Sackville River - To July 31 a total of 9 grilse and 2 large salmon, compared with 29 grilse and 2 large salmon to the same date last year. Here too the grilse are missing.
Miramichi River - The heat and low water are still closing dozens of pools. It is a good moment to turn instead to the various counts available.
Northwest Miramichi - The Cassilis Trapnet has 329 grilse and 320 large salmon by July 31, compared with 1,080 grilse and 253 large salmon to the same date in 2015. Once again, the grilse are missing. Are they just late? We need to be patient. The barrier counts are not available this week.
Southwest Miramichi - The Millerton Trapnet has had 536 grilse and 397 large salmon to July 31, compared with 869 grlise and 340 large salmon last year to the same date.
Magaguadavic - The trap at the head of the fishway in St. George, tended by ASF research personnel, has had 2 grilse and no large salmon to July 31, vs 2 grilse and 2 large salmon in 2015.
St. John River - At Mactaquac there have been 454 grilse and 168 large salmon this year, vs 554 grilse and 81 large salmon in 2015. The numbers are better than they have been in the past several years, yet far below those of a generation ago, when the 1993-1997 average was 3,005 grilse and 1,766 large salmon to July 31.
Nashwaak - To the end of July there have been 268 grilse and 36 large salmon, compared with 158 grilse and 29 large salmon in 2015.
Restigouche - Nathan Wilbur, ASF's Director of New Brunswick Programs, notes that the heat and lower water levels is affecting the Restigouche tributaries just as it is the Miramichi. Cold springs help, but there are still instances of finding dead salmon here and there.
Nepisiguit - The counting fence is now in, a little later than last year. To July 31 the number is 93 grilse and 32 large sallmon. Last year there were 347 grilse and 369 large salmon, but a direct comparision cannot be made.
July 25 view of the Nepisiguit salmon counting fence, erected on July 18 by the NSA and the Pabineau First Nation. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Penobscot - The report for July 31 is out, with 506 salmon at the Milford Fishlift in 2016, vs 721 in 2015, 258 in 2014, and 372 in 2013, making this the second best year of the last four. Temperatures are still high, and there were no salmon found at Milford for about a week before July 31.