Jonas Clark connects with a salmon on a single handed bamboo rod over the ledges at Wilson Pool on the Sainte-Anne. Photo Ben Carmichael
Every Atlantic Salmon is a story. It is a story of the river itself; a story of the angler's understanding of the river's conditions and of the behaviour of the salmon, of the light on the river, and a story of the salmon connection itself. It may be a story that is tucked away after a week or two, or it may be one that lasts a lifetime; to be retold from time to time, with the memory renewed in each telling of the tale.
Jonas Clark releases a 12 lbs fresh salmon in Wilson Pool on the Sainte-Anne River, in the Gaspé. Photo Ben Carmichael
River Managers are making decisions in the next few days to determine if numbers are sufficient for a limited harvest to take place after August 1. River counts, angler captures and other data all become part of this important part of the new management plan.
Bonaventure River published the results of the in-river count done recently, see attached graph. Interesting sign of the times, the results on the Bonaventure Facebook page also included reports of 12 stripe bass being counted in sectors A to B4.
York, Dartmouth and St-Jean Rivers
Results as of July 25 are available at:
The in-river count was performed on the York and Dartmouth Rivers on July 22-23. The number of large salmon counted (1,050) York and Dartmouth (1,000) seems to indicate enough abundance to begin a harvest as of August 1st. This is in accordance with the Quebec wild Atlantic salmon management plan.
Beautiful morning light and mist on Petite-Islet on the Sainte-Anne River. Photo Ben Carmichael
Sight fishing with dry flies to rising salmon on the Sainte-Anne -- a dream come true. Fisherman is Jonas Clark of Spinoza Rod Company. Photo Ben Carmichael
Ben Carmichael releasing a beautiful 25 lbs salmon on the Sainte Anne River. Photo Jonas Clark
Everyone is waiting. What will DFO do?
A few paragraphs down are the latest river assessments, for July 23, and they are down, as was expected. Now DFO NL has completed its mid-season assessment, which is posted on the DFO CSAS website. The report (pdf format) includes projects on year-end numbers.
The recommendation was to close the retention fishery for Atlantic salmon in all the rivers of the Isand of Newfoundland.
The numbers, when carefully scrutinized, tell the story. The Exploits has less than 58% of the return it had to the same date in 2016. Similar percentages appear to apply to most other rivers.
On angling conditions, also keep track of closures due to the warm temperatures and low water in many of the NL rivers. The site is:
Don Ivany, ASF Director of Programs for Newfoundland and Labrador has the following to add:
Northern Peninsula - Barb Genge (Tuckamore Lodge) reports a good sign of fish on Main River (Salmon Brook) during the past few days with their guests catching their daily limits.
Main River (Sops Arm) – currently this river is closed to all angling because of low water and warm water temperatures. Brad Ledrew , camp manager at Arluk Outfitters, reports that up to the closure of the river last week (due to low water and warm water temperatures) there were many large fish this year in the 8-12lb range and also many large, chunky grilse this year compared to other years. Similar reports of healthy looking grilse from other rivers in NL suggest ocean food supply was not a factor this past winter for the salmon that did survive.
At "The Flats" on the Main River (Sops Arm), a treasured wilderness salmon river in NL. Photo Don Ivany/ASF
Gander - Received a report from Debbie Cooper whose son was on the Gander River earlier this week that "the fish were flying" at that time.
At Grassy Holes on the Gander River, last week. Photo Don Ivany/ASF
Humber River – Upper Humber River is low and warm making for very slow fishing. Anglers are catching an odd fish on the Lower Humber (below Deer Lake) where water temperatures are a little cooler. However, anglers report that there are few fish holding at pools like Boom Siding compared to previous years for the same time.
At Boom Siding on the Humber River on Mon., July 24. Don Ivany/ASF
The mid-season assessment of DFO also applied to Labrador. In Labrador, DFO Science recommended that no change be made to the management of the salmon rivers until a greater percentage of the total run is in the rivers. Labrador rivers should be reassessed once more than 50 per cent of the expected returns are in the river.
I have tabled the assessment numbers for this iteration of the counts:
From the limited DFO assessment, it would appear a "mixed bag" of numbers. Note the Sand Hill with greatly incrased grilse returns, but just half the number of large salmon as were counted in 2016.
Eagle River - Dwight Lethbridge of Pratt Falls Lodge reported a very mixed week on the river in the week leading up to July 21. That week had started cold and with very high water. By mid-week the weather was "scorching" and water levels had fallen significantly, while water temperatures soared to 20 C/68 F. The last half of the week had many of the large grilse that pushed the 60 to 63 cm. size.
Despite a slow start to the week the camp totalled 205 fish hooked with a total flip on the ratio of large. Still a nice few fish caught in the 12-15lb range, and the ratio of large is approx 10 per cent. Normal once the grilse run hits.
The river is still falling which is good as there is still plenty of water and pools are just starting to form up nicely. The water has cooled to 63F. We are expecting our incoming guests to have a great time!
Margaree - Greg Lovely reports:
There has been a little rain here, but not enough to make a real difference in river height. We have had some very cold mornings and that has livened up the fish.
I had not been out salmon fishing for a long time. However I went today and had success. I have also seen fish jumping around the harbour, so there are more fish to come. I did a check on the river over the last few days and there are fish in most holding pools at this point.
Third Pool on the Cheticamp River in Cape Breton. Taken on July 6, 2017. Photo Lewis Hinks/ASF
Note that salmon pools that were closed due to warm temperatures have reopened. Please check for the lastest openings and closures:
Brock Curtis notes:
The last few days have been much cooler here on the Miramichi and with that the river temperatures have been dropping. In another couple of days we will probably see the cold water pools reopened. This tends to happen each summer when we get our two to three week heat wave. A much better practice from what we did years ago when we didn't monitor the river temperatures. Sometimes there is confusion though when this practice is put in place as anglers think the river is completely closed.
After giving the rivers a break for a few days we are starting to see things picking up again at the Tackle Shop. Rivers tend to remain low and we are waiting on some much needed rain. Though conditions are what they are there are those who are still on the river commenting that they are seeing small runs of salmon moving up the river. In a couple of days we will be back to normal for the remainder of the season.
The Dungarvon Barrier numbers need to be put in the context of some earlier years, as numbers in recent years have been at or near historical lows. Still, numbers are interesting.
The Northwest Miramichi Barrier Numbers are equally interesting - but low.
Danny Bird of Kedgwick Lodge notes the following:
On July 15 Paul Lenihan enjoying the scenery on an Atlantic salmon adventure trip on the Patapedia River. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF
The water is low, but water temperatures are remaining fair due to cool nights and a few overcast but rainless days.
We continue to release fish during each fishing session which we attribute to the large cool water holding pools on our water.
Young Moose pacing the canoe on the Patapedia River on July 16, 2017. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Trying for Atlantic salmon on the Nepisiguit River in mid-July 2017. Photo Nathan/Wilbur
The Penobscot may be reaching close to its final tally of of Atlantic salmon. With those counted at the Milford fishlift, and in the alternate fishway at Orono, the number is about 810 at the moment, the best since 2011.