ASF Rivernotes 9 July 2021

Tom Moffatt ~ tmoffatt@asf.ca

Jul 9, 2021

The Goldilocks Storm

Accumulated rain July 8 to 11, 2021 will be between 1 in / 25 mm and 3 in / 75 mm. The YELLOW streaks are the greater amount of rain.
Hurricanes can be wonderful events, replenishing Atlantic salmon rivers that have suffered summer drought conditions. Or they can be disasters, sweeping away the habitat of juvenile salmon in headwater streams and destroying important salmon pools.

In the next few days we appear to have the most wonderful of hurricanes/tropical storms. There will be a recharging of the soil and streams, but not so much rain that the deluge will destroy the structure of the brooks and rivers. The Atlantic salmon could not have asked for a better gift in the middle of July.

The predictions are for this storm to help rivers in Maine, New Brunswick, Quebec, southern Labrador, plus western and south coast Newfoundland. Even Prince Edward Island should see more benefit than red soil in the rivers. It would appear likely that Nova Scotia will see the least benefit, but there have been recent rains to help compensate.

With the warm summer temperatures, the cooling effect of the tropical storm rain cannot be ignored. In addition to increasing the levels and flow rates of the streams, there should be a general cooling as well. 

All of this should bring encouraging conditions for "frisky" salmon, and more coming in from the ocean in response to the rain.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Ryan Johnstone releases an Atlantic salmon on the Hawke River last week. Photo from Mike Crosby
From Mike Crosby on the Hawke River comes word that the Atlantic salmon returns have been good so far this year. He says:

On the Hawke River presently the water conditions are good with cold nights keeping water temperatures down. From all reports I have, it appears that the salmon are showing up in good numbers. When I drove up the coast a few days ago, the Pinware River had high water and reports from my friends Walter Bolger and Rob French at Big Land Outfitters were that the fish were there in good numbers.

Dwight Lethbridge of Pratt Falls Lodge on the Eagle River concurs. He adds that grilse have arrived, they are large and very healthy this year. As of July 6 he noted the ratio was about 50: 50 between large salmon and grilse. Water temperature is about 15 C, and the number of salmon migrating upstream is large at this time.

Don Ivany, ASF Director of Programs for Newfoundland and Labrador, gives this overview of Atlantic salmon this week:

In a nutshell, since the big rain we experienced on June 27 in western NL, the high water levels have started to run off and the fishing has really picked up.  Cool temperatures at night are also keeping water temperatures down. 

There are also excellent reports coming in from southern Labrador where water levels and temperatures are good currently. However, the eastern half of the Island of Newfoundland did not get the big rain on June 27 as experienced by the western portion of the island, and water levels are still quite low on most rivers in this section of NL, and the fishing still remains fairly slow on many rivers in eastern NL compared to other years. Likewise, water levels remain low on many of the south coast Rivers where fewer than normal numbers of fish are being seen and angling remains fairly slow.

Southern Labrador

In Southern Labrador, long time guide Cecil Butt reports that there are now a lot of fish on the Forteau River. He also reports that there has been a good run of big fish on the Pinware River to date, and the grilse run is picking up there now as well.
Northern Peninsula

Reports indicate that the fishing has picked up on many of the Northern Peninsula rivers during the past week, especially on the Torrent River and River of Ponds. Fishing conditions are good on the Northern Peninsula currently with medium to high water levels on most rivers, and water temperatures remain excellent, in the low teens C.

ASF’s Steve Sutton reports that fishing was a little slow on Main River (Sops Arm) last week due to high water levels but there were enough fish to make for decent fishing. Water levels have since receded on Main River, and angling conditions are currently good, and the water temperature is cold (low teens).
Western Newfoundland

On the West Coast, water levels have receded from the big rain on June 27, and water temperatures are in the mid-teens, making for ideal angling conditions. Anglers are currently enjoying good fishing on the upper Humber River, at Big Falls. Water levels are still a little high at Little Falls, but fish are being seen there. Things should pick up at little Falls within a couple days if water levels continue to drop at the current pace. Anglers report that the fishing has also picked up on the Lomond River where fishing conditions are good at the moment.
Below Big Falls on the Humber River. Good fishing at this time. Photo Ralph Hiscock
Ralph Hiscock says of conditions at Big Falls on the Humber River:

Fish arrived at Big Falls on June 30: mostly grilse, with at least 500 fish each day being hooked. Fishing has not been better for 30 years or more, according to accounts. Too bad there is no counter on the Humber River.
Below Big Falls this past week. Photo Ralph Hiscock
Don Ivany had comments on other parts of the Island of Newfoundland:

Southwestern Newfoundland
Atlantic salmon fishing continues to pick up on most Bay St. George rivers where angling conditions are good at the moment. 

Harry’s River has been doing very well with just over 2,020 fish through the DFO Counter as off June 27. This compares to the previous five-year average of 673 fish for the same time period. Keith Piercey (SPAWN) reports good fishing on this river currently with ideal fishing conditions. Similarly, reports indicate that the Codroy River has also been producing very well. Other reports indicate fishing is also good on Southwest Brook and Flat Bay rivers, where angling conditions are good at the moment. Bob Mercer noted  on Flat Bay Brook there were fish in most pools he and a friend fished, and they each released a number of grilse along with one large salmon. Water conditions were good at the time.

Central Newfoundland

Returns to the Exploits River as of June 27 was approximately 4,000 fish which is double what it was last year for the same time period. Angling reports indicate that fishing conditions have been ideal on the Exploits for the past week or so and the fishing has been excellent. In fact, the fishing has been so good on this river that one angler reported it this way…. 

“The river is on fire”! Considering returns to the Exploits during the past few years were down considerably, it is certainly encouraging to see such good returns on this river so far this season.
However, as a result of very little rain since before the season even opened on June 1, the Gander and Terra Nova rivers are still experiencing unusually low water levels for this time of year. But water temperatures remain cold on both rivers. 

The DFO count on Salmon Brook (a tributary of the Gander) indicate that total returns as of June 27 are down about half compared to the same date last year, and are well below the long term average. Likewise, the returns on the Terra Nova River are down about half compared to the same time period last year. However, the returns are still on par with the previous five-year average for this river. It is expected that there are still a lot of fish waiting to enter these two rivers and anglers are anxiously awaiting a big rain in this area in hopes that it brings with it a big run of fish. According to DFO fishway counts the Campbellton River appears to be doing fairly well so far this year. As of June 27, some 476 fish have been counter compared to the previous five-year average of 313 fish for the same time period.

Avalon Peninsula

Once again, water levels remain very low on the Avalon Peninsula rivers (but water temperatures are good) and while there are still a few fish being caught here and there, the fishing has been fairly slow for the past week or so. Seasoned angler Rick Maddigan managed to hook and release a nice grilse on a trip to the Salmonier River this week on his old faithful fly, the Salmonier Special. Anglers also report that there are still large numbers of fish being seen in the estuary of some of these rivers waiting for improved water conditions before entering. If so, hopefully things will pick up if this area gets some rain soon, and water levels rise.

Salmon Counts of July 4

The latest Atlantic salmon counts have been shared by DFO in NL. They need to be commended for sharing their information in a timely manner. Also, the footnote information is valuable for interpreting the results.
July 4 count
Footnotes for Salmon Counts

There are quite a number of footnotes that need mentioning in association with these salmon counts. Below are the ones for the Island of Newfoundland:
1 Fence began operation in 2014, no division of sizes prior to 2020
2 Fence began operation in 1993
3 No data for 2014
4 No data for 2000
5 Fence began operation in 2017, no data for 2020
6 Fence began operation in 1987
7 Fence began operation in 2021
8 Fence began operation in 2015
9 Fence began operation in 1986
10 Fence began operation in 2003, no data for 2020, previous year references 2019
11 Fence began operation in 2009
12 Fence began operation in 2019
* Last count since June 27, 2021
** Last count since June 28, 2021
*** Last count since June 29, 2021

Labrador Counts to July 4

The Labrador counts are showing healthy returns. It is unfortunate that last year's numbers are for the most part not available due to the Covid-19 impacts on field work of DFO.
Labrador counts to July 4, 2021
The footnotes associated with the Labrador river counts:
13 No data for 1988-1993, 1997-2001, 2020 - previous year references 2019
14 Fence began operations in 2003, no data for 2010
15 Fence began operation in 2003

Note that all the counts are relatively good for this point in July. But still, early days.

Nova Scotia

Swells showing at Forks Pool on the NE Margaree. Paddy Poirier notes he hooked an Atlantic salmon here earlier this week. Photo Patrick Poirier
Margaree

Patrick Poirier notes:

This past weekend of rain has finally peaked, and water levels and temperatures are excellent, and this has finally brought a good run of Atlantic salmon into the river and moving upstream.
With the storms making rain at times heavy, and with wind, the hardcore fishermen were out with great success. Multiple anglers were reaching their daily limits, and others many others were getting good hook ups.

Atlantic salmon were hooked in the upper reaches of the river's Cemetery Pool, and at Wards Rock.
Overall, things are shaping up to be a great July. With more rains forecast for the weekend, it is should be excellent conditions for the Atlantic salmon and, fine conditions for salmon fishermen. Good water and lowered temperatures for all.
Gillis Island before the rise in the water levels. Photo Patrick Poirier

New Brunswick

Upper portion of Southwest Miramichi River. Bill Taylor/ASF
Bill Taylor, President of ASF, was on the Southwest Miramichi River last week:

I spent a couple of days on the upper Main Southwest Miramichi.

Blistering heat and humidity Monday evening and Tuesday but much cooler and much needed rain on Wednesday morning. River was low for late June but very fishable. Good numbers of both salmon and grilse were holding in the mouths of the many cold water brooks in the upper watershed, confirmation of the critical importance of these habitats and the need to enhance and protect them as a hedge against a warming climate.
We had surprisingly good fishing. Three of us released 2 nice salmon and 7 grilse in two days. We lost a few more and rose too many to keep track of, mostly on dry flies. This is early for big numbers of grilse this far up the Miramichi, which had many local guides speculating that the early run of big salmon also entered the river a couple of weeks early, not an unlikely scenario with the early spring, early ice out and the low ice conditions off Labrador earlier this spring.

My conversations with several Miramichi anglers, guides and camp managers indicate that our good fishing was not an isolated incident. Great to have some good news to share from the Miramichi. All the hard work that ASF, MSA and the North Shore District Micmac Council are doing to enhance habitat, protect cold water sources, address striped bass and prepare for smallmouth bass eradication are paying off.
Upper part of Southwest Miramichi. Bill Taylor/ASF
The Dungarvon Barrier Count notes that to July 4 there have been 23 grilse and 50 large salmon. The count in 2020 was 29 grilse and 18 large salmon.

The Northwest Miramichi Barrier has had, to July 4, 85 grilse and 69 large salmon, compared with 37 grilse and 92 large salmon to the same date in 2020.

It is worth noting that the Trapnet Counts were not available for last year, an important deficit for understanding the Miramichi salmon populations. Read story here.

To June 30 of this year there have been 62 large salmon and 214 grilse at the Millerton Trap and 22 large salmon plus 71 grilse at the Cassilis Trap net on the Northwest Miramichi. Overall, these numbers are promising.

Restigouche

Sylvie Malo-Clark notes:

I was fishing the Restigouche at Kedgwick Lodge a few days ago. I was lucky to land a few salmon (2 salmon and 1 grilse). It included a handsome male Atlantic salmon of about 25 lbs.

Thinking ahead - providing we don't get too many hot days and continue to get rain every so often we should have a great fishing season!
Sylvie Malo-Clark captured this approximately 25 lb male with a Rusty Rat. The salmon ran well into her backing. He was released quickly swimming away upstream. Photo courtesy Sylvie Malo-Clark

Quebec

Félix Piché releases his first ever Atlantic salmon on the York River. Photo Caroline Faye Un cadeau de la rivière York où Félix Piché remet à l’eau son premier saumon à vie – photo Caroline Faye
Québec – Échos des rivières

Dame Nature a injecté un peu d’oxygène dans les rivières de certaines régions la semaine dernière qui a eu un effet de courte durée. Plusieurs rivières connaissent des retards d’au moins 50% des captures comparativement à la saison 2020 et d’autres ont des résultats surprenant et encourageant. Telles la Mitis et la Matane.

Les gestionnaires des rivières vous demandent votre coopération pour la déclaration de vos prises et vos remises à l’eau. Les données sont très importantes pour le calcul du succès de pêche ajusté et réel.

Le fait que nous avons passé au « vert » en date du 28 juin, les consignes de santé publique sont encore en vigueur en raison de la pandémie et le port du masque dans les endroits publics, postes d’accueils, les pourvoiries et les camps demeurent la norme.

Rivière Mitis

La montaison de saumon dans la rivière Mitis se maintient avec un dénombrement phénoménal pour le début juillet.

Au 6 juillet, 996 poissons ont cumulativement franchi le piège de capture, dont 583 saumons et 413 madeleineaux. Les pêcheurs sportifs ont capturé un total de 125 poissons comprenant 67 saumons remis à l’eau et 58 madeleineaux récoltés.

En date du 6 juillet 2020, 618 poissons avaient franchi le piège (415 saumons et 203 madeleineaux). Les pêcheurs sportifs avaient rapporté la capture de 50 poissons, dont 29 saumons remis à l’eau et 21 madeleineaux récoltés.

Rivière Trinité

En date du 6 juillet, la rivière connait un bon début de saison, cumulativement 260 poissons (toutes grandeurs confondues) ont franchi la passe migratoire. Au 4 juillet 2020, 62 saumons et 73 madeleineaux avaient franchi la passe migratoire.

Rivière Bonaventure

Au 3 juillet, la Zec de la rivière Bonaventure fait rapport que 114 saumons ont été pêchés et remis à l’eau et 47 madeleineaux ont été récoltés. Cumulativement au 4 juillet 2020, 159 poissons, dont 98 saumons relâchés et 61 madeleineaux récoltés avaient été inscrits aux statistiques de la Zec.
Sunset on the Matapédia River, from the Routhierville Bridge. Photo Auberge Pouvoirie de la Rivière Matapédia À partir du pont de Routhierville sur la rivière Matapédia, un coucher de soleil spectaculaire - photo Auberge Pourvoirie de la rivière Matapédia
Rivière Causapscal

Cumulativement au 5 juillet, la capture de 65 saumons a été déclarée dont 26 relâchés. En 2020 à pareille date, 129 saumons étaient inscrits dans les statistiques de la CGRMP dont 53 remises à l’eau.

Rivière Matapédia

Au 5 juillet, 114 saumons ont été déclarés capturés et 93 remis à l’eau à ce jour et la récolte de 21 madeleineaux.

Les statistiques de la CGRMP à ce jour en 2020 indiquaient que les pêcheurs avaient capturé 282 poissons, dont 230 saumons graciés et 52 madeleineaux récoltés pour un total de 334.

Le nombre de jours-pêche continue d’afficher une augmentation marquée par rapport à l’an dernier, soit 2 530 en 2021 comparativement aux 1 899 jours-pêche vendus au 5 juillet 2020.

Rivières de Gaspé

Les résultats affichés au 4 juillet sur le site de la Zec Gaspé présentent un bon succès de pêche jusqu’à ce jour en 2021.

York 204 captures (incluant les remises à l’eau) 2 504 jours-pêche
Dartmouth 123 captures (incluant les remises à l’eau) 718 jours-pêche
Saint-Jean 79 captures (incluant es remises à l’eau) 311 jours pêche

Visitez-le

https://saumongaspe.com/riviere-york/declaration-de-remise-a-leau.html

afin d’enregistrer une remise à l’eau.

Cumulativement au 30 juin 2020, on dénombrait les statistiques de capture suivante :
York 245 captures (incluant les remises à l’eau) 1 681 jours-pêche
Dartmouth 111 captures (incluant les remises à l’eau) 545 jours-pêche
Saint-Jean 71 captures (incluant les remises à l’eau) 263 jours-pêche
Richard Tatlock casting into Pritcher Pool on the Bonaventure River. Photo Chantal Morin Sur la rivière Bonaventure, Richard Tatlock effectue un très beau lancer dans la fosse Pritcher – photo Chantal Morin
Rivière Matane

Au 5 juillet, 736 poissons (439 saumons et 297 madeleineaux) ont franchi la passe migratoire depuis son ouverture le 15 juin.

En date du 6 juillet, cumulativement pour la saison 2020, 925 poissons (707 saumons et 218 madeleineaux) avaient franchi la passe migratoire.

Rivière Rimouski

Au 6 juillet, les pêcheurs sportifs de la rivière Rimouski connaissent du succès dans les fosses en aval de la chute jusqu’à ce jour cette saison, 137 poissons (77 saumons et 60 madeleineaux) ont franchi le piège de capture. Cumulativement au 6 juillet, 74 poissons ont été capturés comprenant 33 saumons graciés et 41 madeleineaux récoltés.

Rivière Moisie

En date du 1er juillet, l’Association de protection de la rivière Moisie (APRM) annonce le fait que 1 363 jours pêche ont été vendus jusqu’à ce jour et 25 saumons ont été capturés dont 15 relâchés pour le secteur de la Zec et 3 saumons récoltés et 1 remise à l’eau dans le secteur Winthrop-Campbell.
Rivière aux Rochers

Au 29 juin, les pêcheurs de la rivière aux Rochers ont capturé cumulativement 57 poissons comprenant 41 saumons et 9 madeleineaux relâchés et 7 madeleineaux conservés. Les captures ont été effectuées dans les secteurs en aval du piège.

Également au 29 juin, 45 poissons ont franchi le piège de capture dont 30 saumons et 15 madeleineaux.
Caroline Faye releases her first ever salmon on the Bonaventure River. Photo by Guide Francis Goyette Giguère Sur la rivière Bonaventure, Caroline Faye gracie son premier saumon à vie – photo Francis Goyette-Giguère
Charles Cusson, ASF Director of Quebec Programs writes:

Mother Nature temporarily helped some rivers last week with a short-lived bump in water and oxygen levels. Many rivers at this point are way behind on the number of fish migrating back and a few are witnessing very high numbers of fish to this point in July.
Two rivers which seem to be bucking the trend are the Mitis and the Matane, with impressive numbers for the month of July to date.

As of June 28th, Quebec has transitioned to “Green” status which loosens some Covid-19 personal and travel protocols. Public health and safety procedures due to the pandemic are still in effect when visiting river offices and public spaces.

River managers continue to ask anglers to report the fish they release to calculate an accurate angling success rate.
Mitis River

To date on July 6th, the Mitis is being blessed with an impressive migration. 996 fish (583 salmon and 413 grilse) have migrated through to the fish trap. Sport anglers have landed 125 fish (67 salmon released and 58 grilse harvested).

As of July 6th, 2020, 618 fish had been counted (415 salmon and 203 grilse). 29 salmon had been released and 21 grilse had been harvested for a total of 50.
Trinité River

This Quebec north shore index river is having a good start to the 2021 season. A total of 260 fish have been cumulatively counted through the fishway as of July 6th.

In 2020, as of July 4th, 62 salmon and 73 grilse had been counted for a total of 135.
Fresh from the sea. to the Trinité River. Photo Pierre-Olivier Pouliot Un beau saumon frais de la mer est gracié sur la rivière Trinité – photo Pierre-Olivier Pouliot
Bonaventure River

The Bonaventure Zec has published statistics to July 3rd reporting that anglers have released 114 salmon and harvested 47 grilse. At the same date in 2020, 57 salmon had been reported landed and released.

To July 4th, 2020, 159 fish were reported landed which included 98 salmon released and the harvest of 61 grilse.

Causapscal River

For the season to July 5th, 65 salmon have been reported landed by the CGRMP which includes 26 releases. 129 salmon had been reported landed which included 53 releases at the same date in 2020.

Matapedia River

To July 5th, 114 salmon have been reported landed including 93 released. The number of rod-days has dramatically increased (2,530 to date in 2021) compared to the 1,899 sold cumulatively at the same date in 2020.

During the 2020 season at the same date, 282 salmon had been reported released which included 230 releases and 52 grilse harvested for a total of 334.

Gaspé Rivers (York, Dartmouth, and Saint-Jean)

To July 4th, the Gaspé Zec is reporting the following results:

York 204 captures (includes releases) 2 504 rod days
Dartmouth 123 captures (includes releases) 718 rod days
Saint-Jean 79 captures (includes releases) 311 rod days

To register the release of a fish please visit

https://saumongaspe.com/riviere-york/declaration-de-remise-a-leau.html

Cumulatively to June 30th, 2020, the following numbers were reported:

York 245 captures (includes releases) 1 681 rod days
Dartmouth 111 captures (includes releases) 545 rod days
Saint-Jean 71 captures (includes releases) 263 rod days

Matane River

To July 5th, 736 fish (439 salmon and 297 grilse) have been counted since June 15th.

Comparatively in 2020 on July 6th, a total 925 fish (707 salmon and 218 grilse) had been counted through the fishway.

Below shows the Matane having a day of heavy traffic on July 7, 2021.
Rimouski River

To date on July 6th, Rimouski anglers have had some success in the pools below the waterfall. Cumulatively, 137 fish (77 salmon and 60 grilse) have been counted. 74 fish have been reported landed which includes 33 salmon released and 41 grilse harvested.

Moisie River

The APRM (Moisie River Protection Association) is reporting as of July 1st, 25 salmon have been landed (within the Zec and Winthrop-Campbell sectors) which includes 16 releases. Also, 1,363 rod-days have ben sold to this point in the season which is within the average from year to year.

Aux Rochers River

To June 29th, for the season, 57 fish have been reported landed including 41 salmon released and 9 grilse released, 7 grilse harvested. All fish landings have happened in sectors below the fish trap.

Also, to date, 45 fish have migrated to the fish trap (30 salmon and 15 grilse).
Colin Huff releases the first salmon of the season on the Cap-Chat River. Photo Emily Roger Une remise à l’eau de la première capture de la saison 2021 sur la rivière Cap-Chat par Colin Huff – photo Emily Roger

Maine

While the water levels have been very low this year, recent rains have helped alleviate the problem.

Narraguagus

Colby Bruchs, Biologist with Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR), notes:

Six new salmon this week! A very welcome soaking rain on July 4 raised river discharge above 200 CFS for just the second day since late May. All of the week’s new returns were captured in a single tend of the counting trap the following day. A friendly reminder that salmon do, in fact, need water to ascend rivers.

Narraguagus River Atlantic Salmon count -- through 6 July: 6 new ATS this week. Season total: 10, made up of 9 MSW and 1 grilse.

Penobscot

To July 6, there have been 442 Atlantic salmon at the Milford Fishlift, and 3 more counted at the Orono Dam.

It will be interesting to see if there is any bump in migration numbers with the upcoming tropical storm.

Kennebec

Jennifer Noll of Maine DMR says:

Cooler air temperatures have thankfully decreased the water temperature on the Kennebec River in Waterville. 

Early last week, during the periods of high water temperature (over 24.5°C), the fish lift and cameras were checked first thing in the morning, then shut down for the remainder of the day. 

The fishway was open since Saturday morning. Unfortunately, the heavy rain event that came through most of the state this past weekend did not significantly affect flows on the Kennebec. 

However, flows are finally above minimum historical levels at 2,220 cfs. No salmon or shad were caught in the Lockwood fish lift during the past week.

A total of 17 Atlantic salmon were trapped at the Lockwood Dam, and transported to the Sandy River. An additional salmon was rescued from the ledges below the dam after Brookfield installed flash boards. See Bangor Daily News story.

Covid-19 and the latest developments

For Atlantic Canada and Quebec, there appears to be free travel for those fully vaccinated. But check on each province's requirements for documentation. Nevertheless, an individual that wants to go angling on an Atlantic salmon river in NB, NL, etc. can do so, as long as the vaccination is taken care of.

Internationally, Prime Minister Trudeau is saying a couple of things - that there will need to be about an 80 per cent full vaccination rate among Canadians - and that it will be a long time before unvaccinated visitors will be allowed in. This latter statement was made July 8 at a press conference in Coquitlam, B.C.

One bright point is that Canadian air routes among Atlantic Canada destinations are being reinstituted, and new ones are being tried.

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