ASF RiverNotes April 24, 2019

Apr 24, 2019

New Brunswick

Rain and flooding in New Brunswick, and snow falling above the Quebec North Shore. Nevertheless Spring is making progress. Water still too high, and ice floes too treacherous for anglers on many of the streams. On the Little Southwest and Northwest Miramichi Rivers the ice is now moving out - as shown by Debbie Norton's video below, made on the afternoon of Tues., April 23.
On the Southwest Miramichi, there has been some success in angling.

Brock Curtis notes:

We are a little over a week into the angling season and it has been a slow start here on the Miramichi. The first day of the season we heard of salmon being caught from the shore in the Blackville area. Since then it has been quite quiet. It has been mainly a wait for the rivers to clear of ice and debris. The rivers started clearing Sunday but continue to remain quite high. There are a few anglers launching their boats and giving it a try but nothing much on any hook-ups with salmon.

It is still raining here today and rain is in the forecast for the next few days. Our watershed has a lot of snow remaining in the woods so the rivers will hold at a high level for some time. As we get more anglers on the river we should hear more in regards to salmon numbers being caught.

The rivers are high and fast flowing so anglers need to be cautious when out on the water. All equipment needs to be in tip top shape for these extreme conditions. Those anglers we are talking to at the tackle shop are looking for dry warm clothing. Today was wet and cold but that will change in a few days. Enjoy the fishing but above all be safe.

DFO Regulations in 2019

Click on the link below for the 2019 regulations in New Brunswick:

Striped Bass remain a contentious issue, with extremely high numbers predicted again for 2019. DFO however, is being very cautious in allowing an expanded fishery.

Their update on striped bass fishing, that came out April 16:

ASF research has shown that there has been a significant decline in smolts surviving their journey to the sea since the explosive increase in the striped bass population that spawns in the lower parts of the Miramichi.
The Southwest Miramichi near Boiestown, photographed on April 16th, shows the ice moving out nicely on the Southwest Miramichi. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF
Nashwaak and St. John River

As most will hear, there is flooding on these rivers, with the City of Fredericton apparently experiencing higher levels than in 2018. 
The Nashwaak is still running high, with large silt load as the middle of this week. Photo Nathan Wilbur/ASF

European Salmon in 2019

Everyone is hoping that 2019 will be a far, far better year than 2018. Last year had drought conditions in many areas, temperatures too hot for Atlantic salmon to be comfortable, and generally alarmingly low to lacklustre returns across the continent.

Spey River Scotland

The Spey had a relatively poor year in 2018. This year so far it would appear things are improving but it is still early. When the season started in February, temperatures were unusually warm. But things became more seasonable and also the salmon returns appear to be somewhat better than last year. 

The Spey Fishery Board is asking anglers to keep an eye open for tags, as research is being done on release and recapture in the river. 

The 2018 report from the Spey Fisheries Board can be downloaded here
Tim Robinson releasing a nice 17 pounder last week. Photo Spey Fishery board
Tweed River, Scotland

Mid-April was blustery, according to reports on the FishPal site, but for the week ending April 21, there were 71 salmon caught. More details are available on the FishPal site here

Wye River, England and Wales

The Wye had a terrible year in 2018. The March 5-year average was 39 salmon rod caught, and in 2018 that was reduced to a dismal 8. In 2019 that did come up to 32, within sight of the 5-year average.

But April is still low, with 35 caught , vs 68 in 2018 and a 5-year average of 87.

For the Wye River system, the high points are the months of May, June, plus September, October. The 5-year average per year is 988, with 506 in 2018.

Skjern River, Denmark

This is one of several salmon rivers having significant returns in Denmark that are located on the western side of the Jutland Peninsula. The season started Apr. 16 and ends 15 Oct. Anglers are allowed to use flies, lures or worms.

As of April 24, 74 Atlantic salmon have been caught since the season opened, with a handful above 10 kg. While it is early to say too much about total returns, the results are promising.

For anyone wishing to follow the returns in this river, go to:

Loire River, France

It seems 2019 will be a MUCH better year for salmon returns. For the Allier counting facility at Vichy, with 109 as of Apr. 22. The five-year average up to 2018 for the entire season is 677. There have been 148 Atlantic salmon counted for the entire Loire River Basin.

Asturias Rivers, Spain

So far, 2019 is proving to be a great improvement over either 2018 or 2017, but numbers remain at critically low levels

The Sella - Pilona has had 11 salmon as of Apr. 23, vs. 5 in 2018 and 3 in 2017.

The Narcea-Nalon has had 8 salmon in 2019 as of Apr. 23, vs 1 in 2018 and 3 in 2017.

Overall, for the seven salmon rivers of note in Asturias, there have been 24 return as of Apr. 23, far more than the 8 in 2018 and 10 in 2017. While these returns are ultra-low, they may provide some promise to other rivers in the southern range of the species this year
The rivers of Asturias pass through deep gorges on their way to the Bay of Biscay. Fish passage is a major issue, with dams blocking many paths to traditional spawning area. Photo: Real Asociación Asturiana de Pesca Fluvial.

It is still too early to make comment on returns of Atlantic salmon to Norwegian rivers. But an overview of Atlantic salmon in 2018 notes the decline experienced, and provides some reasons for it. To download, go to:
Status of wild Atlantic salmon in Norway 2018

Kola Peninsula, Russia

The rivers and camps are still digging out. But the Atlantic Salmon Reserve had this to say in an email received this week:

Reviewing the catch records for the last 5 years - the snow pack last spring was slightly above normal, which led to a 19% increase over the 5 year average in the number of salmon caught through mid July when the extreme hot dry conditions set in, which also affected much of the rest of Europe, slowing down the late summer catches for a couple of weeks before welcomed cool Arctic breezes from the north abruptly returned increasing the catch back up well above average again by early August.

These results can be compared to the unprecedented 2017 season when record high snow and water led to an icy cold start to the season - while the later July weeks more than made up for the slow start, producing several all time record weeks. To further illustrate the difficulty in drawing early conclusions, the 2015 season which received the lowest winter snow pack, went on to benefit from the consistent weather conditions during the season which were mostly mild and cloudy and produced the highest overall ASR catch results over the last five seasons.

In other words, this editor concludes we need to wait and see what happens. But certainly hope we do not get the hot and dry conditions of summer felt in 2018.

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