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ASF RiverNotes July 16 2020



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Post-smolt from the Strait of Belle Isle. The future of multi-seawinter large salmon depends on the success of millions like it. ASF Research

Spare a thought for the tens of thousands of post-smolts likely passing through the Strait of Belle Isle this week. Our future of returning large salmon depends on them.

For them, size matters. Smolts that measure at least 16 cm / 6.5 in. are 150% more likely to survive their swim across the Gulf of St. Lawrence from the native river, on their way to Greenland feeding grounds. ASF’s tracking has measured the speed across the gulf from different rivers, including 10 km per day from the Northwest Miramichi to the Strait of Belle Isle, and as much as 22 km per day from the Cascapedia.

One interesting part of this is most of the Atlantic salmon pass through the Strait of Belle Isle in a 10-day period, and through the years, that has been centred on this week and into early next week.

How many smolts are passing through the strait?

Approximate numbers have never been calculated, but it would include all the smolts leaving the North Shore St. Lawrence, Gaspé, southern Gulf, and probably some others.

Millions of post-smolts
 would likely be the approximate final answer for those passing through the Strait of Belle Isle.

For any anglers near the ocean in northern Newfoundland rivers, take a moment and glance across the ocean and salute these explorers finding their way for the first time to their still distant feeding grounds near Greenland.

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A very nice Atlantic salmon released late last month at Long Marsh Pool on the Margaree. From left, Jakob Loriface, Guide Robert Chiasson, and Aaron Krik. Photo Ray Plourde


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Marilyn Leblond introduces her three-month old baby to salmon angling on the Aux Rochers River. Photo Joé Champagne
Charles Cusson, ASF Director of Quebec programs writes:

Water levels received a bit of a boost from Mother Nature recently in a few areas helping a batch of fresh fish rush in like on the Matane.

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.

Tight Lines!

Note: Data used in this report are sourced from various river websites, social media and Quebec government sources.

Dans quelques régions, les rivières ont reçu un coup de pouce de dame nature qui a amélioré les débits d’eau. Pendant la dernière semaine, la Matane a connu des montaisons journalières de plus de 100 saumons pendant quelque temps.

Rappel aux saumoniers pêchant les rivières du Québec, prenez le temps de rapporter vos prises et remise à l’eau afin d’avoir des statistiques précises et que les gestionnaires de rivière puissent calculer le succès de pêche avec précision.

** Les données utilisées dans ce rapport proviennent de divers sites Web, médias sociaux et des sources du gouvernement du Québec.

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Deyan Lafond releases a beautiful grilse on the York River. Photo Benoit Poitras
Rivières York, Dartmouth, Saint-Jean Rivers

The most up to date results are available at:

Les statistiques les plus récentes sont disponible au :

Rivière Causapscal River

Anglers have landed 139 salmon to July 13th this season (55 released).
To July 13th 2019, 173 salmon had been reported landed of which 70 were released.
This compares very closely to 2018 season ending numbers, 166 salmon landed including 63 salmon released.

139 saumons furent pêchés au 13 juillet cette saison comprenant 55 saumons relâchés. Au 13 juillet 2019, 173 prises avaient été déclarées dont 70 saumons relâchés. Cela se compare très étroitement aux chiffres de fin de saison en 2018, 166 prises furent déclarées, dont 63 saumons relâchés.

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On the A Mars River Samuel Blackburn releases a beautiful salmon. Photo Yannis Taderent

Rivière Matapedia River

Angling success continues to be encouraging with large salmon/ (20lb +) fish being landed and released. To July 12th for the season, 433 salmon have been reported landed including 355 large salmon released and 78 grilse harvested.

Last season to date, 444 fish have been landed (329 released and 111 grilse harvested). In 2018 to date, 293 salmon were reported released and 156 grilse had been reported landed.

À ce jour, le succès de pêche continue d’être encourageant, au 12 juillet 433 prises ont été déclarées, dont 355 grands saumons relâchés et la récolte de 78 madeleineaux.

La saison dernière à pareille date, 444 prises furent déclarées (329 grands saumons relâchés et 111 madeleineaux récoltés). En 2018 à ce jour, 293 saumons fut relâchés et 156 madeleineaux fut récoltés.

Rivière Matane River

As of July13th, 1,276 fish (943 salmon and 333 grilse) have migrated through the fishway.

To July 15th 2019, 678 salmon and 219 grilse had been counted for total of 897. To July 17, 2018, 589 salmon and 222 grilse had been counted for the season. In regard to fish landed by anglers to date in 2020, the SOGERM is reporting a total of 158 fish (100 salmon and 13 grilse released, 45 grilse harvested).

To July 15, 2019, 107 fish (87 salmon and 4 grilse released, 16 grilse harvested) had been reported landed.

Au 13 juillet, 1 276 poissons (943 saumons et 333 madeleineaux) furent dénombrés dans la passe migratoire.
Au 15 juillet 2019, 678 saumons et 219 madeleineaux avaient été dénombrés pour un total de 897. Au 17 juillet 2018, 589 saumons et 222 madeleineaux avaient été dénombrés pour la saison. En ce qui concerne les prises à ce jour en 2020, la SOGERM fait rapport d’un total de 158 poissons (100 saumons et 13 madeleineaux relâchés, 45 madeleineaux récoltés).
Au 15 juillet 2019, 107 prises furent déclarées (87 saumons et 4 madeleineaux relâchés, 16 madeleineaux récoltés).

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Joé Champagne releases a fresh salmon on the Aux Rochers River. Photo Marilyn Leblond

Rivière Aux Rochers River

The managers of this very popular river on Quebec’s North Shore are reporting as July 10th,146 fish (105 salmon and 41 grilse) have been transported above the counting trap. To July 15th 2019, 125 fish had entered the counting trap (110 salmon and 15 grilse). At the same date in 2018, 95 salmon and 24 grilse had entered the trap for a total of 101.

Les gestionnaires de cette rivière très populaire de la Côte-Nord du Québec signalent qu’au 10 juillet, 146 poissons (105 saumons et 41 madeleineaux) ont été transportés en amont du piège de dénombrement. Au 15 juillet 2019, 125 poissons furent dénombrés (110 saumons et 15 madeleineaux). À pareille date en 2018, 95 saumons et 24 madeleineaux furent dénombrés dans le piège pour un total de 101.

Rivière Trinité River

To July 10th, 203 fish have been counted through the fishway (76 salmon and 127 grilse) compared to a total of 113 fish at the same date in 2019.

Au 10 juillet, 203 poissons ont été cumulativement dénombrés par le biais de la passe migratoire (76 saumons et 127 madeleineaux), comparativement au total de 113 poissons à pareille date en 2019.

Rivière Mitis River

The people involved with the Mitis are getting ready to “Pop” the champagne. The 1,000th fish was counted on July 14th. The previous record at the same date was in 2016 with 791 fish. The historically record year was in 2016 was the year a record total run happened with 1,923 (1,088 salmon and 835 grilse).

Les gestionnaires se préparent à faire éclater le champagne. Le 1 000e poisson a été dénombré le 14 juillet. Le précédent record cumulatif à la même date était en 2016 lorsque 791 poissons avaient franchi le piège. Historiquement, la montaison record fut en 2016, l’année lorsque 1 923 (1 088 saumons et 835 madeleineaux) avaient migré a leur rivière natale.

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Micmac Camp Guide Ricky Burton releases a Cascapedia beauty. Photo Dr. Henri Atlas

Rivière Cascapedia River June Report

Cascapedia Society DG, Darlene Sexton, is reporting a very good month of June 2020 keeping in mind that the season had a late start and some camps not having any anglers during the month.

Pour le mois de juin 2020, Darlene Sexton, directrice générale de la Société Cascapédia, dresse un portrait encourageant en se rappelant que la saison a connu un retard causé par l’incertitude reliée à la Covid-19 et le fait que certains camps de pêche n’ont pas été en fonction.

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Mitis River salmon released by Gino D'Astout. Photo courtesy Gino D'Astout


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On a branch of the Kenduskeag River, Kirstin Underwood (USFWS) identifying and sorting fish with Emma Christman (ASF). Fish are cleared from the work zone and relocated downstream. Bill Bennett/USFWS

Maranda Nemeth, Manager of the Maine Headwaters Project gives an update:

ASF is working in partnership with USFWS to replace five priority crossings in the Town of Charleston. Construction will start this week so the biologists were out clearing the sites and setting block nets.

We will have more construction photos in the weeks to come. Altogether, this work will reconnect over 12 miles of cold water habitat in the headwaters on the Penobscot watershed.

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Atlantic salmon continue to migrate upstream.

Jason Valliere, Biologist for the Maine Department of Marine Resources, has good news:

We are still seeing salmon at the Milford lift. Temperatures have risen to 79 Deg F and gates are open for free passage (video count).

Salmon count is now up to 1,369.

204 fish (175 MSW and 29 Grilse) have been sent to Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery for broodstock.

Counts have not been adjusted for in-season recaptures based on PIT Tag, Radio Tag, or proration. Counts will be adjusted as data become available.

A few fresh shad continue to trickle in. We continue to see post spawn shad dropping downstream headed back to the ocean. Juvenile herring, by the thousands, have started showing up too … dropping down through the fishway making their way towards more productive estuarine feeding grounds.


Jennifer Noll of Maine DMR reports:

Heavy rain and thunderstorms have been hitting the central Maine region periodically over the last week resulting in average flow conditions in the mainstem Kennebec for this time of the year. According to the USGS gauge in Sidney, current flow conditions are at 4,420 cfs, which sits between the median (4,380 cfs) and mean (5,240) discharge recorded for this date based on 34 years of data.

Temperatures have been hovering around 23-24 C  in the lower mainstem Kennebec this past week. On a few occasions the Lockwood fishway was minimally tended during the period of high temperatures. Temperatures were a bit higher at Benton Falls on the Sebasticook River fluctuating near 25-26 C.

The Atlantic Salmon run has nearly ceased over the last two weeks, with the exception of two fish that came in late last week.

A total of 50 Atlantic salmon were at Lockwood Dam this year.


Colby Bruchs, Biologist with the Maine DMR reports on this Downeast River:

Very low flows persist Downeast. Discharge on the Narraguagus remains less than 100 cfs. Light showers moderated water temperature slightly this week; with temperatures 20-23 C.

Salmon returns have slowed. We captured three new returns this week; all large salmon had originated in smolt stocking.

Atlantic salmon count through 12 July:

Season total: 97, with 84 MSW; 13 Grilse.

ATS age/origin/sex breakdown:
(Note: due to river conditions some returns are not being handled, therefore some ages reported below are prorated based on freshwater and/or sea-age and origin of scale sampled returns captured to date this season)

Hatchery Origin (smolt stocked):
H:1 – 12 returns – (Grilse)
H:2 – 66 returns – (31 Female; 35 Male)
H:3 – 1 return – (Female)

Hatchery Origin (parr stocked):
P20:2 – 1 return (Male)

Naturally-reared Origin:
2:2 – 16 returns – (7 Female; 9 Male)
2:1 – 1 return – (Grilse)


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Jacob Loriface releases a fine Atlantic salmon on the Margaree earlier in the season. Photo Ray Plourde

Ray Plourde says of the Margaree this year:

There was a very good run of bright silver early fish starting in early June in lower sections of the river. For many years the fish in the Margaree didn’t start upstream until late June or early July. This year was definitely the best Spring in many years.

My belief is because we are seeing the first real effect of the Greenland Agreement. After getting it straightened around, this agreement is paying dividends. It may build further.

There was one big fish hooked at Brook Pool. There was a good number of large fish. But with the higher water temperatures things stopped. Then when things got cooler, even with low water, fish started coming in with moderate numbers. Not “crazy good” but good nonetheless.

Greg Lovely commented on the low rainfall in western Cape Breton:

None of the trickles of rain we have been getting made the least bit of difference to the water levels of the Margaree River. There are still salmon fishermen from the Forks down to the Tidal pool.

The Northeast branch is terribly low.

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The Northeast Margaree needs some major rainstorms again.


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Rob Johnson releases a salmon on the Restigouche a few days ago. Photo from Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson about Restigouche:

My dad Andrew Johnson and I travelled Friday evening from Nova Scotia to fish the Restigouche River. We fished the river Saturday and the river water temperature was a bit on the warm side. Northern New Brunswick had really warm air temperatures on Thursday and Friday. We received some rain Saturday night and Sunday and the air and water temperatures dropped. Perhaps no surprise that we began to see more salmon action on Sunday evening and Monday morning. Guide was Denis Boudreau

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The Restigouche rose with rain, but is now back down to much lower flows
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Bill Taylor, ASF President, on the Little Southwest Miramichi this past week. Photo ASF

Bill Taylor, ASF President, went to the Miramichi this past weekend:

I spent the past week at a wonderful little camp on the headwaters of the Little Southwest Miramichi with family and friends. Nothing is sweeter than sharing something you cherish with family and like minded folks who appreciate it for all the same reasons you do. My wife and daughters also love to salmon fish, and our girls, adults now, are the fourth generation of our family to fish these pools and hike these wilderness trails.

The river was in good shape thanks to a couple of days of much needed rain and most of the pools looked perfect and very fishy. Recent angling reports from most of the Miramichi watershed were encouraging, strong runs of fresh salmon and grilse. In fact, salmon returns for most of June and early July had been encouraging throughout much of salmon country, from Maine’s Penobscot River, to the Gaspe, Newfoundland and Labrador and most points in between.

When we arrived on Saturday, it was hot and humid and threatening a thunderstorm. Though the river level was ideal the air temperature was 27 C, 35 C with the humidex and the river temperature was a warm 20 C. Fishing was great but the catching was slow on the weekend, we released a couple of grilse, lost a few, including a big salmon after an epic battle, and rose too many to keep track of. The heat was unpleasant for both man and fish.

The weather changed on Monday, the humidity cleared, much cooler temperatures, and as expected the salmon began taking more consistently. By midweek the daytime temperature maxed out at 20 C with no humidity, the night time temperatures dropped to only 7 C, and the river was an ideal 15 C in the morning. The fishing continued to be great, and now so was the catching. Most encouraging were the number of large salmon as well as the condition of both the salmon and grilse we caught, very healthy thick shouldered fish that fought hard.

We finished the week strong, one of the best in several years. That said I needed to remind myself that the bar had been set pretty low during the past couple of decades, what fisheries scientists refer to as ‘shifting baselines’, many of us have forgotten what true abundance really is. Hopefully the strong first half of the 2020 season continues”.

Counting Fence – Northwest Miramichi

Northwest Miramichi Barrier to July 12 had 47 grilse and 106 large salmon, compared with 65 grilse and 31 large salmon in 2019 to same date.

The Dungarvon Barrier to July 12 had 46 grilse and 38 large salmon, compared with 42 grilse and 43 large salmon in 2019 to the same date.

Tom Walker on the Southwest Miramichi:

Two kids and I headed to the camp above Doaktown near July 10, now being able to travel in the “Atlantic Canada Bubble.”

Reports were of good numbers in the lower river. Well we hit it right.

Over the three days we observed large numbers of Atlantic salmon moving up the Southwest Miramichi River.

We had our share of good luck too. My son was able to play a couple and hooked his first. I will add a note that his sister had also first connected with a salmon two years ago.

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Zing and it is off. Fishing above Doaktown. Photo Tom Walker
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The Campbell Creek Dam has blocked this waterway flowing into the Nashwaak for more than a century. ASF and partners are working to have it removed and to restore its fish passage.
Campbell Creek Dam near Marysville, Nashwaak River Watershed

Nathan Wilbur, ASF Director of New Brunswick Programs writes:

We have some exciting news in New Brunswick. ASF together with the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council, the Nashwaak Watershed Association, St. Mary’s First Nation and the City of Fredericton will be removing Campbell Creek Dam, just north of Marysville. This is a city owned deadbeat dam that has been blocking fish passage on a major tributary to the Nashwaak River for more than a century. The partnership of Indigenous groups and stakeholders not only demonstrates significant community support for the project, but we have together raised $750,000 to pay for the dam removal and stream restoration.

Webinar is being hosted regarding the Campbell Creek Dam on Thursday, July 23 2020 at 7 pm ADT. To register for the WEBINAR:


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Don Ivany, ASF Director of Programs in Newfoundland and Labrador:

Fishing success has slowed on the Island but remains good in Labrador

Based on angler reports throughout NL during the first half of the season, and the latest DFO fishway Counts as of July 12th (see above), salmon returns to NL rivers have been nothing short of spectacular so far this year.

Let us hope the rest of the season brings similar results. Unfortunately, during the past week the excellent fishing enjoyed by anglers on the Island rivers has finally slowed due in large part to unseasonably hot and dry weather conditions which has led to low water levels and warm water temperatures for most rivers on the Island.

While there are still good signs of fish in most rivers anglers are reporting that the fish are now difficult to coax to the fly in most regions of the Island, and we definitely need some heavy rain and cool temperatures to liven things up again. While we are currently experiencing a brief cold snap on the Island (in fact there is a frost warning in place for all parts of Western NL tonight), there is very little rain in sight for most areas until at least early next week. In addition, air temperatures are expected to continue to be in the low to mid 20’s (Celsius) for the next five or six days so we can expect fishing to remain on the slow side for the next week.

In Labrador, conditions are more favourable and rain in the past week has helped to maintain water levels and has help cool water temperatures. As a result, we are still receiving reports of good fishing on most rivers in Labrador, particularly in Central and Southern Labrador, which is expected to continue for the next week or so. To date there are no reports for Northern Labrador but we expect to receive some by the end of this week.

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Anglers at Boom Siding on the Humber on 14 July 2020. Don Ivany/ASF
Regional Breakdown:

Southwestern NL – Steady rain on Sunday, July 12th , led to a minor increase in water levels on rivers in Bay St. George but this is expected to be short lived as there is little rain in the forecast for the next few days. That said, anglers are still reporting a decent sign of fish in rivers in this area, but the fish are difficult to coax to the fly. Early morning fishing when water temperatures are coolest appears to be providing the best results.

Western Newfoundland – Things have been slow for the past week on the upper Humber due to low water levels and warm water temperatures. Again, there is a good sign of fish at Big Falls and Little Falls but lately they have been difficult to entice to the fly. Cool air temperatures yesterday, and again today, are expected to bring the water temperature down slightly and there is some rain in the forecast for next week which will hopefully improve conditions. On the lower Humber (below Deer Lake) water conditions have been much better and anglers are reporting an odd fish being hooked in the Boom Siding area. However, fishing overall has been slow because fish are not holding in this area at the moment but rather appear to be moving straight through. Traditionally, angling picks up on the lower Humber after July 15 when fish start to hold in this section of river. So, we can expect things to pick up in this part of the river over the next week or so.

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Big Falls on the Humber, with anglers, and boats. Photo Ralph Hiscock
Northern Peninsula – Water levels have been low on most rivers on the Northern Peninsula during the past week or so but cooler temperatures at night have been helping to keep water temperatures moderated. Barb Genge, owner of the Tuckamore Lodge, reports that rivers on the tip of the Northern Peninsula such as Main Brook and Beaver Brook experienced a rise in water levels during the past couple of days because of some heavy rain, and water temperatures are cool. She reports there is an excellent sign of fish in these rivers at the moment. She also reports that there are more anglers on rivers in this area this year than she has ever seen before, probably because of displaced workers from the province who have been unable to travel because of the Covid-19 Pandemic. There have also been good reports of fish on the Big East, Torrent, and Castors but fish are difficult to fly because of low warm water.
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Torrent River on 14 July 2020. Photo Ralph Hiscock
Central Newfoundland – Reports indicate that there was still a strong run of fish on the Exploits River this past week and anglers were still enjoying good success. However, and angling success is starting to slow down somewhat. Likewise, there was still a strong run of fish on the Gander River this past week. Fish are holding well in pools throughout the river but water temperatures are starting to become an issue even on this river which is generally much cooler than other rivers on the Island.

South Coast – Some Rivers on the Southwest coast such as Grey River experienced a slight increase in water levels this past week due to rain in that area. However, water temperature is still an issue meaning fish are not flying well. Rivers to the east (such as Garnish, and Conne River) have not faired as well and water levels are low and water temperatures are very warm on rivers in this area. Rivers that are open to angling in this part of the province have ben experiencing slow fishing in the past week or so and rain is desperately needed.

Eastern Newfoundland – In a nutshell, water levels have been low on most east coast rivers and water temperatures have been warm for the past week. As a result, fishing has been very slow. However, eastern Newfoundland is currently getting some rain which is expected to continue for the next couple of days so angling conditions should improve.

Labrador – Anglers continue to report good fishing on the Forteau and Pinware Rivers in Southern Labrador. Chris and Jennifer Verbiski report that there has been an excellent run of both small and large salmon on the St. Lewis River this year. The river is still fishing well currently, and the water conditions are perfect. They are expecting their first guest on the Hunt River in a few days, so we are anxcious to here how the returns are to that river. In the meantime, Mike Crosbie, Hawke River lodge, reports that the fishing on the Hawke River has been great since the lodge opened this year. Fish appear to have been a little ahead of schedule this year compared to most years. Returns appear to be strong and there is also a good sign of large fish on the river this year. They are expecting their first guest on the Flowers River starting this week-end, so again we look forward to hearing how the returns are this year on this awesome river which is known for it’s high percentage of large fish.

Dwight Lethbridge
, of Pratt Falls Lodge, reports that despite extremely high air temperatures (30 C) this past week-end, the grilse run is coming on strong and there are still many large fish around as well. A cold front has since moved in and water temperatures are expected to cool down and help the situation. Anglers are currently enjoying great success and their guides are reporting that ‘pools are alive with fish’ currently. Great news indeed!

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Dave Vardy plays a grilse on the Castor River a couple of weeks ago. Don Ivany/ASF


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Power of the unexpected would be a good title for this. Harry Greene of Virginia shared this wonderful image from last autumn on the Margaree. His dog Ruffy jumps backward
Among the heartaches of Covid-19 Pandemic is that salmon rivers in Atlantic Canada and Quebec have many real friends in the United States. These individuals hold dear the rivers, the salmon, and not least the Canadians they may have known for years in camps, on the rivers or in the villages and stores where they travel.

Harry Greene is just one among thousands. He said to me how he understood why folks on the Margaree might not want him around this year. But he still loves the salmon world

In the photo above he was releasing a 15 lb. salmon in October of last year. He loves the experiences such as the one captured in the photograph, and we are all better off for having individuals cherish the Atlantic salmon.

On the rivers, not is all perfect this year. We have heard anecdotally of an increase in both poaching and use of illegal gear for catching salmon. In part this is due to having fewer eyes on the rivers. So we will need to find ways to protect wild Atlantic salmon, and make authorities aware of problems, wherever they are.