Chéticamp River Estuary | Photo: Nicholas MacInnis, NSSA
Overcast and a welcome 16 degrees Celsius this morning, I look out over the St. Mary's. Steam fog hangs suspended above the water and visually creates layers of silhouetted trees. Sentinel hardwoods tower like cardboard cutouts. As the sun breaks through they fade, disappearing into the verdant canopy.
Flashes of silver in the distance make circular patterns on the glassy surface. A little rain and cooler evening temperatures has been enough to liven up the salmon who now congregate around cold water springs. The forecast for the weekend promises rain, and our parched riverbed needs it all and more.
As I pour my first cup of coffee and soak in the tranquility of this place, my thoughts wander to the disheartening decisions made this week by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. If you're following the news, you know that Tim Halman approved an open pit gold mine despite concerns and criticisms from scientists within his own department. In addition, approval was given to Nova Scotia's only operating gold mine to raise the height of it's tailings dam wall. Anyone with the slightest semblance of an environmental conscience is left shaking their head, asking "why" and questioning the entire approval process for these projects.
I step away from the river and peek in at my son sleeping. I wonder: when he wakes in the years to come, will he see what I see today? What a stand we must take to ensure this is so...
Sunrise on the St. Mary's River in Guysborough County | Photo: Deirdre Green
Newfoundland & Labrador
From the desk of NL Director of Programs, Don Ivany:
The term ‘Dog Days of Summer’ generally refers to that time of the summer season when it’s too hot and uncomfortable to do anything without expending a lot of energy, hence everything slows down. This best describes the recreational salmon fishery on the Island of Newfoundland in early August. Uncharacteristically hot and dry weather led to low water levels and warm water temperatures on most rivers. Not exactly a good recipe for salmon fishing, and absolutely challenging conditions for the adult and juvenile salmon that are currently in our rivers, as they struggle to get enough oxygen, and seek out cold water refuge areas.
Due to conditions, DFO has issued notices for many rivers, limiting recreational angling to early morning fishing only. Anglers are encouraged to check the In-Season River Status for an update on all river closures and openings before heading out. Despite low water levels and warm temperatures, we are receiving reports that large numbers of salmon are still returning from the sea and are congregating at the mouth of rivers. When conditions improve and these fish enter the rivers, hopefully anglers will continue to enjoy more good fishing.
In Labrador, angling conditions are much better, particularly as you go further north. Reports of good fishing on many rivers within this region continue to come in.
Latest fishway counts may be found HERE.
Regional Round Up - As of August 4th, 2022
Labrador – On the Eagle River, Pratt Falls Lodge co-owner Dwight Lethbridge, reports that the water level dropped in early August and was back to a good fishing level. He also reports that while temperatures rose a little on the river, early morning readings were still around 15 degrees Celsius. Combined with the fact that there were still lots of fresh fish being seen in the area, his guests have enjoyed great success on the river.
Meanwhile, Chris Verbiski, owner of the St. Lewis River and Hunt River Lodges, reports that the angling was a bit slow on the St. Lewis River due to the fact that most fish have gone through the lower river by now and as a result fewer fish are holding at the falls where the lodge is located. However, further north he reports that the Hunt River has been enjoying excellent weather conditions, and the water level is still moderate. He also reports that the run is tracking ahead of averages from previous years, due to an increase in grilse returns so far this year, while large salmon numbers appear to be consistent with previous years.
Southwestern Newfoundland – Water levels on most Bay St. George rivers are now low and water temperatures are warm, ranging between 18-22 degrees Celsius. As such, fishing is pretty slow on all rivers in this region.
Western Newfoundland – Water levels on the Upper Humber River were on the low side last week and water temperatures were warm, averaging 18-20 degrees Celsius. Anglers report that while there were still a few fish in the area, angling was slow. Meanwhile, on the Lower Humber, water levels last week were ideal for fishing but water temperatures during the day approached 18 degrees Celsius. There was a good sign of fish in the area last week (both grilse and large) and there were also quite a few anglers fishing at this location. However, most success occurred during early morning fishing when water temperatures were cooler. One of the anglers, who recently enjoyed success in this area, is Lenny Boone. He hooked and released a large salmon on July 30th that measured 96 cms in length. Congrats Lenny!
Northern Peninsula – Water levels were low on most of the small and medium sized rivers on the Northern Peninsula last week. But, water levels remain fairly good on some of the larger rivers such as Torrent River and Portland Creek. However, water temperatures on most all rivers on the Northern Peninsula were fairly warm last week. Reports from the Tuckamore Lodge, in Roddickton, indicate that their guests enjoyed some success on Main Brook (aka Salmon Brook) despite the fact that fish were not taking well.
Central Newfoundland – While there is still a decent sign of fish on the Lower Exploits River, the fishing this past week was really tough due mainly to warm water conditions. What few fish were hooked on the Exploits were being hooked during early morning fishing when the water was cooler.
Angler Bill Bryden, reports that fishing was slow on the Exploits River last week but he did hook one fish about 15lbs below Grand Falls. He also reports the water level was average at the time but the water temperature was rising daily. On the Northeast Coast, Bill reports that the water level was moderate on Anchor Brook, Deadman’s Bay Brook, and Windmill Brook, but the water temperature was very warm. He says fish were virtually absent from the lower pools as most fish have migrated far up stream. However, Dave Vardy, reports that there are large numbers of fish congregated in the salt water near the mouth of these rivers awaiting improved conditions before entering these rivers.
Meanwhile the water level on the lower Gander River was low last week (running at just 20 c/m/s near Big Shute) and the water temperature was warm. Angler Brandon Street, reports that the fishing was poor on the lower Gander this past week and there were very few fish moving. He also reports that the few fish that were hanging in this section of river were pretty dark, indicating they have been in the river for a while, and very few fresh fish were coming in. Other anglers also report few fish in this area last week compared to the week before, suggesting that many fish that had been holding in the area previously have since moved upstream. This is supported by a report from angler Allen Nippard, who reports that he hooked four fish on the Gander River last week-end upriver near the town of Glennwood.
Southcoast – Water levels were very low on most southcoast rivers last week and water temperatures were very warm.
Avalon Peninsula – Well known angler Rick Maddigan, reports that water levels on most rivers on the Avalon have been very low and water temperatures have been high. As a result, very little happening on rivers in this area and there are not many fish around. He says they are still experiencing extremely hot weather so things are not expected to improve soon.
White Bear Falls Pool | Photo: Bob Bissett
Pratt Falls Pool | Photo: Bob Bissett
Having recently returned home from a fishing trip, Bob Bissett shares:
After an eight hour delay due to bad weather, our party arrived at Separation Point at the head of Sandwich Bay, for the boat ride up to our Eagle River Salmon Club lodge. We spent quite a bit of our time fishing the well known Pratt Falls Pool and also made three day trips over to White Bear River to fish the spectacular White Bear Falls Pool.
The remaining patches of snow on the peaks of the Mealy Mountains, combined with a wet cool spring and early summer served to keep the Eagle River’s flow high (3.0 M) and cool (14 C / 58 F). Excellent water for the fish.
The weather during our first four days was cool and mostly overcast with some showers, which made for even better fishing conditions. However, our last three days turned sunny and somewhat warmer, with water temperatures of 17 C / 63 F, which made fishing more challenging.
Overall, we enjoyed decent but not great fishing as the high water levels were in the salmon’s favour, and the annual run was beginning to taper off.
Arrival to Separation Point at the head of Sandwich Bay | Photo: Bob Bissett
Eagle River acrobats | Photo: Bob Bissett
Directeur des programmes au Québec, Charles Cusson, shares the following report:
Quebec River Report | August 11th, 2022
Gaspe | Photo: Ben Carmichael
Joé Champagne releases a York River beauty at Spruin Rock | Photo: Pierre Olivier Pouliot | Une belle pièce de la Fosse Spruin Rock gracié par Joé Champagne
Alexandra Thériault Sereno a la fosse Big Eddy sur la Petite Cascapédia | Photo: Jean Michel Gouveia Fortin | Alexandra Thériault Sereno releases a fresh Petite Cascapédia Atlantic
Myriam Bergeron remet a leau son premier saumon de la rivière Bonaventure | Photo: Normand Fiset | Myriam Bergeron releases her first ever Bonaventure salmon
Evan Rice comments:
It’s another sweltering day in August — this is our second heat wave since we’ve seen any real rain. Rivers are low and warm and as I work my way through a box of popsicles, I send my friend screen shots of the upcoming forecast. He responds “but Environment Canada only calls for showers”. I tell him I’m betting on the Weather Network and I can happily say I am right this time.
Our fish here in Cape Breton received a well-deserved drink this week. And with even more rain and some cooler temperatures ahead, I am hopeful it will be sufficient to keep things rolling into the autumn season.
I believe an optimistic outlook on our rivers, salmon and even the weather forecast is important. It’s critical to us as guides, restaurant and cottage owners to maintain and foster a positive and welcoming atmosphere surrounding recreational angling here. We want those new to the sport to be encouraged to take an interest in Atlantic salmon conservation, and to feel comfortable stepping into a pool for the first time.
In Cape Breton we shake hands after a fish, we rotate pools and share as many flies as we do stories on the bench. Our collective angling community educates rather than shames. After all, each of us gathers to these rivers for the same reason — the salmon.
Cold Water Refugia | Photo: Evan Rice
Mark Your Calendars
The Antigonish Rivers Association (ARA) is excited to announce they will be hosting their Annual Dinner and Auction on October 1st, 2022.
This year's dinner will be held at the East Coast Credit Union Social Enterprise Centre (aka The Legion) located at 75 St. Ninian Street in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
Warm summer temperatures have brought salmon angling to a stand still throughout the province. Yet, we are encouraged by reports of record numbers of fish being observed within many river systems, most notably by seasoned anglers on the Cains.
DFO has released the latest trap numbers for Southwest Millerton and Northwest Cassilis trapnets.
Respecting these numbers, Brad Burn comments in his recent blog:
The second half of July was a bit of a letdown given the good numbers through the 15th. Millerton salmon counts went from 222 on July 15 to 238 on July 31. This compares to a total last year of 209, so we are about 15% ahead of 2021.
The same July 15/31 comparison in grilse for 2022 is 408/439, but this is very significantly behind the 761 count on July 31 2021. Cassilis on the NW had similar ratios in both salmon and grilse.
Rodney MacEachern of DNR, shared numbers from the Dungarvon and Northwest Miramichi yesterday:
Total salmon counts to date are a fair bit below last year. Given the intensely hot summer we have experienced to date, we remain hopeful that the salmon are simply waiting within the estuary and will make their way up river with the arrival of much needed rain and cooler temperatures.
The Miramichi Salmon Association Inc. shared with their membership today:
Following improved conditions, please be advised that the 29 pools in the Miramichi River watershed that were previously closed will be reopening tomorrow, August 12th, 2022.
DFO will be posting the official variation order later today HERE.
In the News
Temple Stream flowing freely for first time in 240 years
FARMINGTON – The Walton’s Mill Park Project is underway with the dam removal phase of the work completed. The demolition work began by E.L. Vining’s crew on July 21 and in an efficient sequence, the primary spillway was removed in less than week and fully removed by July 26. The face of the dam was dry stacked stone and was capped with concrete. Under the concrete cap was a gravel and stone fill on top of ledge. Only the dam material was removed to expose the natural ledge outcrop. Continue reading HERE.
What We Are Reading
This is the second book by author Deborah Banks of While Crossing the Field. Deborah's poetry speaks of the sustenance, connection and the community found within the stillness of rural landscapes.
There is so much we hunger for: not things, or
but sustenance in quiet conversation
that takes us along the road,
peaceful in the companionship of the other,
the deer crisscrossing the path ahead
licking salt on the yellow line
or snatching at tufts of grass exposed
after the great wind and rains of last night.
Hunger Moon is available online through Nimbus Publishing, Chapters and amazon.ca and amazon.com.
Deborah's long awaited book launch is happening in Sherbrooke Village on August 17th (details below). We hope to see you there.