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COMPILED BY DEIRDRE GREEN (DGREEN@ASF.CA)
Oct 15, 2022
With salmon fishing comes a unique fraternity. On the river many of us have found a group of individuals with whom we share a special kinship. The riverside reunions each spring, summer and autumn are memorable. For me it’s the annual trips to West River, Antigonish and the Margaree that I treasure most — not just because of the beautiful waters I wade and the fish I am privileged to pursue – but rather the meaningful connections and shared bond.
Autumn is a frenzy with shorter days and much to accomplish! Our affiliates have been busy hosting fundraising events throughout Atlantic Canada. ASF recently attended the Antigonish Rivers Association annual dinner and it was heartwarming to see Jim Lerikos receive ARA’s ‘Special Recognition Award’ for his tireless efforts on behalf of wild trout and salmon in our eastern rivers. The event was a huge success and was sold out with 180 attendees.
Late last week, Kris Hunter, Peter Dore and I participated in the ‘Salmon Wars’ book launch event which ASF co-hosted with The Healthy Bays Network, The Ecology Action Centre and Patagonia Halifax. The event was well attended, with over 90 guests who listened intently to authors Douglas Frantz & Catherine Collins speak about the investigative work that led to their damning exposé on the salmon farming industry. If you haven’t purchased your copy, I would encourage you to do so today.
Taylor Main reports:
We’ve had near perfect water conditions in eastern PEI since the hurricane after some heavy rain mid last week. Water levels are lower in the remainder of the province that did not receive the rain but definitely not terrible. Many people are now out fishing fall steelhead or striped bass as both of those fisheries are doing quite well.
The salmon fishing has been slow thus far. I haven’t heard of any fish being caught since the trout season ended on Sept. 30 on the Morell and Mill Rivers. Not completely unexpected but not ideal either. There has not been much angling pressure on the Morell and the fact that eleven out of twenty of the main angling areas remain either inaccessible or blocked with downed trees — with no timeline on when we can expect to see the river opened again — is likely contributing to that.
Unfortunately, it may be the fall where we will have great water but cannot get to the river to fish!
ASF’s Kris Hunter was recently on P.E.I. for a training session involving two watershed groups — The Souris and Area Branch of the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation & Trout Unlimited Canada Prince Country Chapter.
To read the full article visit cbc.ca.
Earlier this month, Andrew Clarke hosted a Women’s Spey Casting Retreat on the Southwest Miramichi river. Nine women from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick attended and arrived at Pond’s resort on Friday afternoon, where they suited up for an evening fish.
One of the event’s instructors, Mitchell Roberts shares:
Myself, Sarah Nellis and Andrew Clarke each took a group of three women to a different pool and began showing them the basics of spey casting. By the end of the first evening, everyone was acquainted with one another, had fired off some good casts, and was eager for the next day. That first night was rounded off with plenty of laughs and a few drinks around the fire.
After enjoying breakfast at the main lodge the following morning, we set off into groups once again. Many ladies felt a bend in their Spey rods courtesy of some beautiful brook trout dressed in vibrant fall attire. At lunch, we all celebrated one angler who had managed to hook a beautiful salmon. Unfortunately, the fish threw the hook, but not before a big jump that had her heart pounding. A relaxing afternoon was followed by an evening session from 3pm until dark.
With each new session, the ladies became more proficient at this new style of casting, with very visible improvements all around.
Saturday’s campfire was accompanied by barbecued steaks, chicken, and a lovely salad. Two of the guests brought out a charcuterie board they had prepared. We shared drinks, laughs, and fireside sing-a-longs.
After breakfast on Sunday, it was game time. The last chance to hook a fish. By now, all of the ladies were comfortable getting a line out there and rotating the pools. To see the incredible improvements between that first night and the last morning was astounding. Some that had never held a rod before were setting perfect D-loops, and others with more experience were trying out new casts like snake rolls. More excitement still, as another fish was hooked that morning, but didn’t make it to hand. That’s salmon fishing for you!
One of our guests happened to be the owner of Rabbittown Tea, and brought some products to share. We were all delighted to try these delicious treats and highly recommend them — especially my personal favourite — the Peach & Basil Cold Brew Tea.
As an instructor at this event, I couldn’t be more proud of the accomplishments that everyone made over the weekend. It fills my heart with so much joy to see so many talented anglers, and to see the gears turning as they decipher this casting style. All of the ladies left smiling ear to ear, looking forward to next year already. Safe to say, they are hooked.
Andrew shared the following comments from the participants in his Spey Casting Retreat:
“Learning Spey Casting techniques was fun and energizing. Andrew created an atmosphere that enhanced the small group learning. The professional instructions was adjusted to my needs. I loved it. “
“Learning Spey Casting at it’s best. Two feet in the water on the beautiful and legendary Miramichi river. “
“ I hope you’re really proud of yourself for what you accomplished this weekend. You brought a group of folks together and we all bonded and made some amazing memories, all while learning some new bad ass fishing skills.”
“ I’m very grateful to have spent the weekend with such a great bunch of people. I loved, loved, loved rediscovering fly fishing. ”
“I’m super pumped and grateful for the incredible weekend. Thanks for organizing this wicked opportunity and I truly would go again next weekend! So freaking fun!“
Be sure to follow Andrew online at getbacktoyourretreat.ca for news on upcoming events.
Although water levels are low once again, there are fish around and many anglers have had a successful finale hooking several nice fish to close out their 2022 season.
Andrew Clarke notes:
Fish have been on the move all week on the Miramichi. The fall pools seem to have more fish within them than observed in previous weeks. And although fishing is still hit and miss, it’s a big improvement from the last few weeks.
Tyler Coughlan of Country Haven shared last week:
It seems like many of the fresher fish are moving through without jumping or rolling but the stable fish are showing more. We picked up some fresh ones with sea lice way up on the Cains which is quite something considering they are 45 miles above tidal water. With the last raise of water, many of the salmon pushed upriver and into the tributaries and as a result the lower sections of the Main Southwest River experienced much slower fishing. Anglers had some success early in the week on the upper sections of the Main Southwest as the fish moved up and into the system.
Ian Cavanaugh wrapped up his season of guiding at Country Haven earlier this week and shares:
My last session ended with a nice hen caught by Mike Manio from Cape Cod It was a terrific finale to my season with both sports landing a nice salmon. I loved guiding at Country Haven with our wonderful crew and awesome guests. Back to fly-tying for the winter and loking forwawrd to seeing you all next year.
Margot Malenfant booked vacation and went off-grid with her brother, Luc and father, Moe for the end of the season. Margot writes:
It’s the last week of salmon fishing on the Miramichi River system and its tributaries. Water is fairly low on the smaller rivers but trout and salmon have been very active! We caught some beautiful brookies and watched salmon rise and jump all around us at golden hour – it was hard to leave as the sun was setting, watching the fall colours pop. The wind died down and we tossed our last casts. Water feels much colder when you have a leak in your waders. There is always someone in our trio with leaky waders.
Overall, we had an amazing week closing out our season. We kept the fire going all night in the cabin to stay warm and enjoyed some magical evenings at our favourite pools. It’s time to put the rods back in storage for the winter and shift gears to hunting, but we’re all looking forward to next season already.
Keith Vanacore from Restigouche River Lodge summarizes their season finale below:
Our season closes here on September 30th. and this year fall fishing was unfortunately much slower than usual. Restigouche salmon normally come in to spawn in late August or early September. We believe due to low water, and warmer than normal water and air temperatures, the salmon began coming in later in the month. We did have some 20-pound fish hooked, released & lost but not like a typical autumn season.
ASF Directors Tracey & C.D. Clarke spent last week on the Sevogle and Miramichi rivers.CD shared his last salmon of the 2022 season with us — pictured below.
Flylords recently caught up with C.D. to discuss how he got into fly fishing and his secret to making a living in the art world. You can read the full interview here: flylordsmag.com/artist-spotlight
Don Ivany shared a final report from Newfoundland on October 6th, 2022:
With mostly fine weather and very little rain in Western NL this past week, the water level on the lower Humber remained fairly low — especially for this time of year. Water temperatures are declining and are now in the low teens, making for much better angling conditions. This has enticed a handful of die-hard anglers to sneak in a few last casts before the season officially ends on October 7th. Well known guide and angler on the lower Humber, George Jones, reports that there are still a few nice big fish around and a few are still being hooked. In fact, he reports that Brock Curlew was one of the lucky anglers this past week, as he managed to release a beautiful fish exceeding 30 pounds! What a great way to cap off the season.
On a not-so-positive note, a car that ended up in the lower Humber River near the town of Steady Brook a couple weeks ago, is still sitting on the riverbed just downstream from the town. Despite numerous calls to authorities by local anglers who fish this section of the river, it appears little action is being taken to have the vehicle removed. Considering the threat that this vehicle poses to our world-renowned salmon river, from possible oil and fuel leaks, it is unacceptable that more effort is not being taken by authorities to have this vehicle removed. We hope they come to their senses and address this issue ASAP!
Water levels were a little high on the Exploits this past week, and water temperatures were nice and cold. However, Kim Thompson, General Manager with the Environmental Resources Management Association (ERMA) reports there were very few salmon moving on the river and very few anglers fishing. This is not surprising since the Exploits River does not fish well under high water conditions.
Water levels improved slightly on the Gander River during the last week of the season. Combined with cooler water temperatures, this resulted in improved angling conditions, especially on the lower Gander. Calvin Francis, Chief of the Gander Bay Indian Band, and also Ward Councillor for the Qalipu First Nation, reports that the improved conditions brought a good run of late season fish into the lower Gander, including some larger fish. As such, he reports anglers were experiencing good fishing on the lower section of the river this past week at Sunshine Pool and First Pond Bar.
Dave Vardy, reports that things also picked up further upriver near the towns of Appleton and Glennwood. He notes there were more people fishing the river last week near these two towns compared to the previous two weeks, and a few fish were being hooked and released at this location. However, Dave also shared that the tributaries of the upper sections of the Gander River are still very low (i.e. Salmon Brook, Northwest Gander, and Southwest Gander), and salmon have been schooling up at the mouth of these tributaries because the water level is still too low for them to enter the tributaries. With the spawning season now upon us, this is very concerning since these are some of the main spawning tributaries on the Gander. As salmon school up at the mouth of these tributaries, they also become more prone to poaching activity. Hopefully, much needed rain will come soon and alleviate both problems.
ASF’s Marketing Manager, Peter Dore shares a few notes from his first fall salmon fishing adventures:
There may not be a place in the world where autumn can be experienced more vividly than on the Margaree River. Before this week, I had never experienced the majestic Margaree or the wonderful people who return each October to make their yearly salmon pilgrimage amongst the backdrop of rolling highlands that were once the world’s tallest peaks. The leaves are in full bloom and the rich, earthy aromatics imbue each step along the riverbank with the truest sense of fall. It’s easy to see why, as the heat of summer begins to fade, fisherman and explorers alike begin to feel the pull of this mighty river and its picturesque landscape.
The river is cold, the flow is perfect, and the fish are active. As I journeyed around to a several of the hallowed pools along the different branches, I encountered numerous tales of big, healthy fish being caught and released. If you can find the time between now and Halloween, the Margaree is the place to be.
Kennebec, Androscoggin and Sheepscot Rivers
Please see the Weekly Update from Jennifer Noll (Maine Department of Marine Resources) received on October 14th, 2022.