ASF RiverNotes 26 Sept 2019

Sep 26, 2019

Autumn Colours Above and Below the Water

A beautiful fish in gorgeous water - the Matapedia River, Sector 3. Photo Jean Pierre Bujold
There is magic in the rivers when the leaves begin the turn bright colours and the Atlantic salmon do as well. Sometimes the colours can take one's breath away, and for many it is the very best time of the year to spend time communing with rivers and these great fish.

Depending on storms and temperatures, the leaves may stay for weeks on the trees, or may form an exasperating tapestry of colour to the river that in some places seal the water below from any attempt to place a salmon fly.

Take the time to experience these wonders of nature that come with the change of season. Celebrate the experience, and celebrate the incoming Atlantic salmon that will be spawning in another month or so.
The beauty of the forests and rivers together makes this time of year a favourite for many. On 21 Sept., on Cains River. Nathan Wilbur/ASF


Releasing an Atlantic salmon near Cold Spring Camp, Matapedia River. Photo Dan Greenberg
Charles Cusson, ASF's Director of Programs in Quebec, notes:

The Gaspé rivers have continued to benefit from the influx in water a few weeks ago. Current forecast is predicting more rain which should maintain good angling conditions until the end of September.

Note: The data used for the Quebec river notes are sourced from various river websites, social media and Quebec government sources. Information can change without prior notification regarding prior year comparative figures.

Matapedia River

Rod Days sold to date in 2019: 6,089, compared to 5,813 at the same date in 2018.

For Anglers, the Matapedia River continue to be very productive. To Sept. 22, a total of 1,199 fish had been landed, comprising 744 large salmon released and 455 grilse harvested.
To the same date in 2018, a total of 1,087 fish had been reported landed (516 large salmon released).

Josée Marie Adams releases a big buck salmon on the York River at the Truite Pool. Photo Genevieve Fournier

Bonaventure River

The latest available data is to Sept. 14, by which date there were 961 fish landed (771 salmon released, and 190 grilse harvested).

Looking back at last year, at the same date in 2018, a total of 1,307 fish were reported landed (882 salmon released along with 425 grilse harvested).
The final in-river count was completed on Sept. 12 and 13 and revealed a total of 1,222 fish (1,047 large salmon and 175 grilse).
The final count performed in September 2018 determined a total 1,475 fish (963 salmon and 512 grilse).

Matane River

With eight days left in the 2019 season as of Sept. 22, a total of 1,930 fish have been counted (1,213 large salmon and 717 grilse). Last year, to Sept. 23, 2018, a total of 1,942 fish had been counted migrating into the river (1,056 salmon & 885 grilse).

To Sept. 22, there were 686 Atlantic salmon reported landed comprising 225 large salmon and 47 grilse released, with 131 large salmon and 283 grilse harvested.
In 2018 to September 23rd, 475 fish had been reported landed (160 salmon & 54 grilse released, 261 grilse harvested).

New Brunswick

Low and clear water conditions in the Restigouche River watershed allowed the diver teams to conduct the salmon count on all tributaries. The local team of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada leads the counting operations, assisted by the teams of the Restigouche River Watershed Management Council. Photo David LeBlanc

St. John River
The Sept. 15 numbers are finally up for Mactaquac and Nackawic.
There were 502 grilse and 185 large salmon to that date, compared with a 2018 count to the same date of 411 grilse and 60 large salmon. Any improvement is welcome on returns to this formerly ultra-important Atlantic salmon river.

The Sept. 15 numbers echo the improvement in returns that was found on the St. John River.
There were 119 grilse and 33 large salmon, compared with 67 grilse and 18 large salmon in 2018.
Recent rains have increased the flow of the Nashwaak River, setting the stage for late September migrations and October spawning activity in the headwaters. Nathan Wilbur/ASF

Nathan Wilbur, ASF Director of New Brunswick programs says:
Despite a dump of water from Hurricane Dorian only two weeks ago, the various rivers of the Miramichi were low again on the weekend. The good news is that heavy rains Monday night and Tuesday will bring them into fine form this week and into the weekend. We should expect another pulse of fish to enter on this good water, and the forecast looks like more rain on and off over the next two weeks, setting up the remainder of the season.

Miramichi Lake has been a ticking time bomb with its invasive smallmouth bass population that has now been found in the main Southwest Miramichi. On Sept. 16 an electrofishing team of Angotum, ASF, and MSA conservationists are at the Miramichi Lake barrier, and about to electrofish Lake Brook for the smallmouth bass. Left to right: Devin Ward (Anqotum), Taylor Ward (Anqotum), NW (ASF), Katie Patles (Anqotum), and Kelsey McGee (MSA).

Nova Scotia

A couple of weeks ago René Aucoin watched Hurricane Dorian sweep past the Cheticamp River's mouth, with massive surf being generated. It is interesting how varied the rainfall was from the storm.

Sackville River

The counting fence data for Sept. 15 is posted - 18 grilse and no large salmon, compared with last year's count to the same date of 6 grilse and 1 large salmon. Hard times for this river.

LaHave River
The Morgan Falls count has 133 grilse and 11 large salmon to Sept. 15, compared with 20 grilse and 53 large salmon. Undoubtedly the river is worse off for not having the large salmon!
The Northeast Margaree is on its way up again in water levels, with even more rain expected by this weekend.
Rain, glorious rain. A view on Tuesday up the Northeast Margaree towards Snag Pool. More rain in the forecast as well. Should be a good weekend on this river. Photo Greg Lovely

Greg Lovely has these notes on the NE Margaree:

Hopefully we get the rain that is in the forecast over the next few days.....we need it.

The Fall salmon are now coming in a little more steadily. Fishing by myself the other day, I saw what I thought was the wake from a seal. It wasn't a seal, but the movement of salmon, and the next couple of hours were very productive.

I met up with some guys near the tidal portion of the river and fresh fish were being seen and hooked. 
A 35-year-old berm has been repaired on the Breakwater Pool, in the Sanctuary of the Margaree. Photo Sept. 23, 2019. Greg Lovely
A bit earlier, salmon congregating in a cool area of the Breakwater Pool. Cold water springs are important in many Atlantic salmon rivers, and that includes the Margaree. Photo Greg Lovely


Walkway beams are now in place on the modified Head Tide Dam on the Sheepscot. Photo Maranda Nemeth
Sheepscot River

Maranda Nemeth explains the Tide Head Dam issues:

The purpose of this project is to modify the Head Tide Dam that currently prevents safe, timely and effective upstream and downstream passage for federally endangered Atlantic salmon and other sea-run fish.

The dam currently is breached at the former gate locations on the east (river left) and west (river right) shores of the structure. These breached openings in the dam restrict flow and create a velocity barrier to upstream and downstream migration for numerous anadromous species including Atlantic salmon, river herring, rainbow smelt, and American shad.

The purpose of the project is to modify the western abutment by removing concrete and ledge to attract more flow and in turn, reduce velocity to improve fish passage. The modification will also extend the life of the dam by reducing high flow pressure on the spillway and by addressing the section of the dam that has deteriorated most significantly. Thus the modifications will reduce risk and hazard and provide increased resiliency to the community. Other purposes of this project include establishing safer recreational access, stabilizing the historic mill relics, and installing educational signage.

The Town of Alna is the owner of the dam, being gifted the property in 1964. When it came to the Town, it had a restrictive deed covenant saying the ‘dam could not be destroyed’.
The Town consulted a legal counsel in 2016 to ensure this proposed modification scenario complied with this covenant. The Town of Alna legally reviewed this covenant and concluded our proposed project would still uphold the deed since the dam would not be destroyed and that the connection from bank to bank would remain. This covenant restricts the original intention of the work to remove the dam entirely but the proposed project does remove the velocity barrier existing at the dam.

The Head Tide Dam with the walkway struts in place. Photo Maranda Nemeth

Newfoundland and Labrador

The counting fence information for Sept. 15 has just been posted. The results have not changed much, and indicate some poor returns. Whatever happened to DFO's Precautionary Approach after a supposed mid-season review?
The Sept. 15 Newfoundland counts from DFO counting fences.

The returns in Labrador counting fence rivers to Sept. 15 do not look good. In all four cases, numbers are below last year:
English River had 379 vs 942 to that date in 2018
Sand Hill had 1,942 in 2019, vs 4,161 in 2018.
Muddy Bay Brook had 306, vs 319 in 2018
Paradise River had 78, vs 260 in 2018
Overall, the word appears to be that the 2019 season was relatively poor in souther Labrador, while a relatively good year in more northerly rivers, such as the Eagle and the Hawke.

Here and There in Europe

Some river draws the attention of the RiverNotes editor every day, and certainly a reasonable proportion are in Europe. Also the projects to solve the mysteries of Atlantic salmon and to promote their wellbeing into the future. In Scotland, the Ness Watershed's efforts to understand their salmon runs this year has had an extremely high profile.
In Finland, the counts on the massive Tornionjoki continue to amaze. This river that forms the border between Sweden and Finland and emptying into the Baltic Sea has had more than 65,000 Atlantic salmon this year
The Tornionjoki has had than 65,124 Atlantic salmon counted so far
But back in England, what started as a promising season for the Tyne and the Wear rivers in the northeast corner of the country has turned into something of a "bust", with low returns counted in August, and the September numbers not yet posted.
In Norway, the season on the Gaula has finished, as of the end of August, and the comments were that it was a somewhat lacklustre ye

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