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Excitement has been building throughout Atlantic Canada and now, salmon season has finally arrived. Anglers have been anxiously waiting to get out to their favourite pools and see what changes those big winter storms brought with them. It’s a time to catch up with fishing friends, religiously check long-range forecasts and swing those new flies spun on snowy evenings.If you have a furry friend, they may be doing circles at your feet (like ours) as you clean and line your reels. Now that the organizing is complete, our West Highland Terrier sits at the door, guarding rods and boots. She will not be forgotten as we venture out seeking that most special of wild connections. Ready, set, go!
Bonne pêcheNova Scotia angler Ryan Stewart recently returned from spending a few days fishing in Quebec. Ryan notes:
There have been fish hooked at the forks of the Causapscal and Matapedia at the end of May. The area received close to 80mm of rain during the last storm, and as you can imagine, rivers were blown out following that event. I would expect fishing is picking up again now as water levels are descending.
Ryan will return to Quebec later this month to fish the York and Dartmouth rivers. You can follow his fishing adventures on Instagram @arestew.
50/50 On The Water
Since 2018 Lyne Sexton (@flyfishingsextongirl) has been hosting a women’s fly fishing event to share knowledge and encourage more women to try the sport. Whether novice or advanced, Lyne’s event is tailored to helping all level of angler. Along with a passionate group of collaborators and guides, Lyne makes the weekend a welcoming and festive event. Her primary objective is to ensure that all women are comfortable, and leave with the understanding that fly fishing is for everyone.
After having 28 participants in 2018, 65 in 2019 followed by a forced break for two years due to the pandemic, the Cascapédia-St-Jules 50/50 On The Water (Edition 3) was finally able to take place this month, with over 100 women attending. This now makes Lyne’s event the largest of its kind in North America!
Workshops included: casting, reading the water, choosing a fly, salmon and trout angling techniques and fly tying, to name just a few. There were numerous sponsors, and most participants left the event with some sort of prize. Some Grand Cascapédia camps opened their water for the day — the cherry on top of this magical weekend. But to Sexton, the biggest prize of all was seeing the smiling faces of her guests: women who now have the confidence in knowing that they too, belong on the water!
Charles Cusson, Directeur québécois, Fédération du saumon atlantique:
Sur la plupart des rivières au Québec, une autre saison a officiellement débuté hier.
Des pluies abondantes ont récemment garni nos rivières avec des débits spectaculaires dans plusieurs bassins versants saumon, gracieuseté de Dame nature.
D’après les médias sociaux, quelques saumons ont été relâchés le 1er juin. Espérons que cela continue et que nos rivières reçoivent un bon approvisionnement en eau pendant toute la durée de la saison 2022.
Des rivières comme la Matapédia, la Cascapédia et a Gaspé devraient connaitre des niveaux d’eau plus « pêchable » au cours des prochains jours.
Un saumon de taille impressionnante a été gracié (estimé à 19 kg) par Tony Gilbert, un invité du Tobique Salmon Club sur la Matapédia.
Je vous fournirai un portrait plus étoffé la semaine prochaine, entre-temps, je vous souhaite une excellente saison de pêche et soyer prudent.
Charles Cusson, ASF’s Director of Quebec Programs, comments:
Another season officially began in Quebec yesterday on most rivers. Mother nature has been more than generous with rain in most of salmon country prior to the season start. There are a few reports of fish being released on June 1st. Let’s hope this continues and our rivers receive a good supply of water during the entire stretch of the 2022 season.
Rivers like the Matapedia, Cascapedia and in Gaspé should be dropping to more “fishable” levels during the next few days.
A large salmon was released (estimated at 42 lbs) by Tony Gilbert, a guest at the Tobique Salmon Club on the Matapedia.
Next week’s notes should have reports from different salmon regions, until then, have a great angling season and be safe on the rivers.
T’was the Night Before “Fishmas”…when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Fly boxes are full, and waders hung with care, in hopes that tomorrow the salmon will be there. Angler and salmon guide, Matt Scott shares:
May 31st, 2022 is a date in the east that anglers affectionately refer to as “Fishmas Eve”. Newfoundland’s recreational salmon fishery is set to kick off tomorrow (June 15th in Labrador), and many will be heading to the river for their first taste of the 2022 salmon angling season. The million-dollar question is: what kind of season will it be?
Off-season it’s been a mixed bag of weather. Record rainfalls hit the west coast in late November, with many areas seeing mass flooding resulting in erosion, road washouts and closures. One can only expect that some of the rivers we fished last season won’t look the same this year. Shortly after the damaging flood, the west and northern portions of the island settled into a deep freeze, with the north seeing a remarkable amount of snow. While this bodes well for water levels in these areas, unfortunately, it is déjà vu for the central and eastern portions of the island. The year prior, they saw a similar winter – one with very little snowfall, and as such will need significant rainfall to keep water levels healthy.
As we look ahead in the forecast, things aren’t looking too bad with rain in the long-range. However, it is Newfoundland, where the weather is unpredictable, so anything is possible. Even snow in July — yes, it’s happened before! Hopefully snow in summer is a stretch, but the knowledge that it isn’t impossible, leads me to my early season prep and some of the staples I carry with me on the river. Whether I’m guiding in Labrador or fishing on my home river, the Humber, these items are necessities and have saved the day on more than one occasion. Outside of the obvious things like sunscreen, fly repellant, leader, sunglasses, rain jackets, etc., these are the tools I forget I am carrying with me, that is until I need them. It’s not uncommon to see conditions change quickly and for temperatures to dip in Newfoundland.
Here are my top five pack essentials — these items serve as an insurance policy to keep me comfortable and fishing on those most inclement of days:
1. Down Puffer – Down jackets are the equivalent of a wood stove for your body. Packable warmth for any mission. Light as a feather. Well… many feathers. Nevertheless, you can smoosh this thing into the bottom of your pack (it’s smaller than a Nalgene bottle) and forget it’s there, until the day the wind kicks up from the northeast.
2. PackTowel – These small, antimicrobial towels absorb four times their weight in water and then wring out almost completely dry. Weighing 0.2 of a pound, they are an easy item to bring along for those unexpected swims, or a mid-day bath.
3. Life Straw – Water is heavy. You may pack a litre for the day, but depending on the adventure, that may not be sufficient. These personal water filters take the guesswork out of “Is this water safe to drink?” and they ensure your hydration supply is never depleted. Take advantage of that earth juice all around you!
4. Fire Starter – Put this in your survival pack. Fires in the rain can be tricky, even with the right materials and skills. Give yourself an advantage for when you are in dire straits.
5. Headlamp – You may never plan to stay until dark. But expect the unexpected. What if you rise the fish of a lifetime on your “last cast”?
Follow along this season with Matt on Instagram @mscott709.
Class Is In Session
Kastine Coleman, an FFI casting instructor, fishing guide, and two-time IGFA world record holder for Atlantic salmon, is co-owner of “Tight Loops Tight Lines”, a fly fishing school and guiding operation, specializing in angling for Atlantic salmon in rivers throughout the western side & Northern peninsula of Newfoundland, and into Labrador.
This past week Kastine, and partner Terry Byrne met with students at Pasadena Elementary School in NL. Kastine writes:
This week was all about the kids. Over the course of 2 days we met with every class from grade K-6. That’s just over 300 children! Many of the kids had fished before but most had never cast a fly rod. The kids that mentioned they had caught a fish before, had all caught sharks! So even though we were clearly dealing with experienced fishers, our teachings remained the same. 🙂
We taught the children how to hold and cast a fly rod, how to aim for their target, and how to play a salmon. We showed them how to tie on a fly using a clinch knot, explained the difference between wet & dry flies, and the science behind why we pinch our barbs.
Using cardboard cutouts, we discussed proper fish handling relying on current, science-based “Keep Fish Wet” principles. After completing the fish handling lesson, each child signed their name on a fish.
These eager youngsters walked away with a NL Fly Fishing School certificate and a colouring sheet to be collected next week (for a chance to win some prizes donated by Twin Peaks NL).
Throughout the two days, our focus was to keep the discussions open, share some conservation messages, encourage respect and fun on the river, and help inspire a new generation of anglers.
Don Ivany, ASF’s Director of NL Programs, writes:
The much anticipated ‘Recreational Salmon Fishery’ officially opened on the Island of Newfoundland on June 01, 2022, much to the delight of all anglers. The season does not open in Labrador until June 15th, 2022. For information on the current angling regulations governing the Recreational Salmon Fishery in NL, anglers should refer to the ‘Anglers Guide Newfoundland and Labrador 2022-2023’ which can be accessed at the following link: https://www.nfl.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/en/NL/AG/anglersguide.
Anglers on the Island of Newfoundland who managed to get out on opening morning were met with frigid air temperatures throughout the Island, combined with strong easterly winds. However, water conditions were ideal, with temperatures averaging about 9 degrees Celsius, and with water levels ranging between medium to high on most rivers. The exception being a few rivers in central Newfoundland like the Gander and Terra Nova Rivers, which were a little on the low side for this time of year. For future reference anglers can access hydrometric info on a select number of rivers throughout the province of NL directly from the provincial governments web-site at the following address: https://www.mae.gov.nl.ca/wrmd/ADRS/v6/Graphs_List.asp. Heavy rain forecasted for much of the Island during the next day or so will likely see a fair increase in water levels on most rivers throughout the Island. While the season is not yet open in Labrador, water levels are currently high on most rivers however, a little lower than the norm. Reports are that there is still ice in many headwater ponds and snow to melt yet, so we will likely see an increase in water levels in Labrador over the next couple of weeks.
Preliminary reports from anglers on the Island of NL, who fished our early run rivers in the Bay St. George region, indicate an average start to the season in this area. A few fish were hooked on some rivers, including a few grilse and a few large salmon; while on a couple of rivers anglers reported not seeing any fish. As is often the case, most reports came from anglers who fished Southwest Brook, which is perhaps the most popular early run river in this section of the province. Well-known angler, Neil Smith, reports that a few fish were hooked throughout Southwest Brook on opening day, mostly on the more popular pools such as Seal, Louis, and Cliff Pool, to name a few. Another well-known angler and guide, George Jones, reports a few fish were hooked at ‘Tidal Pool’ in the morning, including one large fish. Veteran angler, Bob Goodyear, reports a grilse was also hooked at ‘Snows Run’ just above ‘Tidal Pool’. Most anglers were encouraged that a few fish are being hooked throughout the river, especially since it is just the first day of the season and the runs are only beginning.
Reports from anglers who fished other rivers throughout the Island were very limited, and not quite so encouraging. Those anglers that we did hear from reported not seeing any fish, or only hearing of an odd fish being hooked here and there. But the season has only been open on the Island for one day, so it is too early to tell just yet what the runs will be like this year. Nor has DFO released any data yet from their counting facilities throughout the province. We will have a better idea about what the early season returns are like when those first reports are made available to the public. In the meantime, we encourage folks who are interested in early returns to monitor some of the angler social media sites in the province. One of the more popular sites is the TSANG site, which can be accessed at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2370037781/ . These sites provide a wealth of information during the fishing season and provide a great platform for anglers to share information about all-things salmon related. Likewise we encourage anglers to monitor DFO’s web-site for updates throughout the season in NL.
A note from our summer internMax Saffer-Meng, an intern studying Environmental Engineering at Yale, will be working with ASF’s Maine office this summer as our 2022 Jed Wright Fellow. Max has spent the last two weeks in the field and writes:
On Monday and Tuesday, I helped trap smolt in the Sandy River. Smolt migration is winding down, and we captured between 20-30 each day. On Tuesday afternoon, the second adult salmon of the season was found at the Lower Kennebec Dam. We loaded it by hand into a tank within a trailer and transported it two hours upstream where we proceeded to measure, tag, and release the salmon. Spending an afternoon moving one salmon impressed upon me how important each fish is to the population, and how difficult it can be to restore a species with few resources. Despite these challenges, the first adult salmon of this season appeared earlier than in previous years, and I look forward to finding more this summer.
Thursday was spent with Joe McLean, a civil engineer and founder of Acadia Civil Works. McLean is implementing new stream crossing infrastructure at Black Brook in Philips, and Henry Mitchell Brook in Temple. The plan is to replace the existing culverts, which block fish movement and cause erosion, with precast concrete bridges. These structures will have sufficient width to accommodate large rain events and will allow room for habitats on the banks to provide continuity for wildlife throughout the streams. We drilled and took soil samples to help plan the bridge foundations.
DMR’s Jennifer Doll writes:
Diadromous fish have been on the move in the Kennebec and Androscoggin Rivers for the last few weeks.
In the Lower Kennebec, the Lockwood fish lift opened on May 1st. Brookfield has currently shut down the turbines at Lockwood in order to aid in the passage of smolts. As of May 26th, 40,109 river herring and 6 Atlantic salmon have been trucked upstream. Most of the river herring run has come in this week (25,275) and have been stocked within basin. 80% of the bio-sample of river herring this week have been bluebacks. Five of the six Atlantic salmon trucked upstream from Lockwood have been of wild origin. As of May 26th, the river temperature at Lockwood was 15.7°C.
Two million river herring have passed Benton Falls as of May 27th. Benton Falls passed a second Atlantic salmon in the Sebasticook River for the year on May 23rd. As of May 26th the temperature of the Sebasticook at Benton was 17.5°C.
As for China Lake, 740,000 river herring to date.
Lockwood fish lift (main stem Kennebec) total catches for 2022:
River herring: 40,109 (25,275 stocked just this week!) *as of May 26th
American shad: 0
Sea Lamprey: 1 *as of 5/23
Striped Bass: 1 *as of 5/23
Atlantic Salmon: 6*as of 5/26
Benton Falls (Sebasticook River) total catches for 2022:
River herring: 2 million
Atlantic salmon: 2
Brunswick fishway (main stem Androscoggin) total catches for 2022: *as of May 23rd
River herring: 88,042
American shad: 1
Sea Lamprey: 131
Striped Bass: 1
Atlantic Salmon: 0
DMR’s Colby Bruchs reports:
We captured our first two salmon of the season this past week at the Narraguagus River fishway trap. Both returns were 2SW females. Water temperature has risen to around 21°C. Discharge remains very low: ~190 CFS.
Born and BredSalmon season is here, and in Nova Scotia this means many anglers will be making their first trip of the year to Cape Breton Island. For some, it also means a call to salmon guide, Robert Chiasson.
Born and bred on the banks of the Cheticamp River, Robert has lived and fished the island his entire life. His knowledge of the Margaree and Cheticamp rivers is unrivaled. He knows “his rivers” and generously shares this information with anglers, friends and clients alike.
Ever watchful over his home rivers, Robert earnestly awaits the season’s first salmon. He recently canoed the lower Margaree, from Doyle’s bridge downstream, with good friend Ray Plourde. They set out to see the changes winter brought to the river, pick wild fiddleheads and wet a line. A successful trip by all accounts.
There is no sign of fresh salmon to date, but hopefully very soon. I am looking forward to catching up with friends and clients riverside this season, and hopeful for good returns on my home rivers.
The Striper Spawn is onNathan Wilbur, ASF’s Executive Director of Regional Programs, spent the weekend fishing for striped bass and shares:
The ASF research crew, working with Anqotum and the Miramichi Salmon Association, successfully tagged 80 smolt on the Northwest Miramichi and another 80 on the Southwest earlier this spring. Now those smolts make their way downriver through the gauntlet of striped bass that are aggregated near the heads of tide to spawn. The estuary of the Northwest Miramichi is the primary spawning ground for Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Striped bass.
Since the early 2000’s, ASF has tracked smolt survival on the Miramichi and other rivers like the Restigouche and Cascapedia, working with organizations like Gespe’gewaq Mi’gmaq Resource Council and the Restigouche River Watershed Management Council. The research shows a significant decline in survival on the Miramichi while survival holds steady – or has even been increasing – on the Restigouche and Cascapedia. The abundant striped bass population certainly provides a popular fishery, and over the past few weeks many families have been out enjoying the fishing on the Miramichi. After spawning, most of the striped bass leave the river and head out to coastal areas to feed for the summer.