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COMPILED BY DEIRDRE GREEN (DGREEN@ASF.CA)
Oct 28, 2022
One final weekend of salmon fishing in Nova Scotia. It’s hard to believe we are here already!
It’s been unseasonably mild, somewhat muggy in fact, but temperatures are dropping nicely for the coming weekend. Personally, I prefer that autumn chill in the air, frost on the guides and layering up before leaving the house. It’ll be nice to get a few days of true fall fishing in before the end of the month.
This season was vastly different for me. I didn’t spend long days on the water, or hook nearly as many fish. However, I did introduce my little one to the outdoors and take him to a number of my favourite fishing holes. And, just last week, we got our first fall grilse together. Whether it was the little misbehaving salar, or Mommy’s excitement, Lachlan was quite amused by the whole scene. Seeing that knowing smile, as he looked on from the riverbank with joy, was nothing short of perfection. I cannot wait for the next one we release together.
As RiverNotes editor, it’s been wonderful to connect with so many passionate anglers this season both on and off the river. I have been living vicariously through you to some degree and it’s been a joy to see so many folks connecting with their first Atlantic salmon. Thank you for sharing your stories with our readers.
We have one last edition of RiverNotes—next week—so if you have yet to share a memorable story from your salmon adventures this year, please reach out! Tight lines to everyone wrapping up their season in Nova Scotia. See you out there.
ASF Maine Headwaters Project Manager, Maranda Nemeth writes:
This past summer, ASF and partners completed the removal of the dam at Walton’s Mill on the Temple Stream, a key tributary of the Sandy River. Temple Stream now reconnects Atlantic salmon, American eel, and Eastern brook trout with over 54 miles of high-quality spawning and rearing habitat. This project is crucial to the long-term viability of wild Atlantic salmon in the United States.
The many project partners include the Town of Farmington, Atlantic Salmon Federation, NOAA Restoration Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Farmington Water Department, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund. Funding support has also been provided by the Maine Natural Resources Conservation Program, Trout & Salmon Foundation, Cascade Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and several other private foundations.
The funding and technical support from NOAA Fisheries was instrumental in this project’s successful implementation.
Matthew E. Bernier, NOAA Marine Habitat Resource Specialist shared earlier this week with RiverNotes:
When it comes to Atlantic salmon conservation, NOAA Fisheries couldn’t ask for a better partner than ASF. This summer we had the opportunity to take Janet Coit, our Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, to the Walton’s Mill dam removal site as construction was beginning. Janet was impressed by the dedication and knowledge of ASF’s project manager, Maranda Nemeth, and encouraged NOAA to lean into future restoration work with Maranda and ASF. A beautiful partnership continues!
To view the progress of the dam removal and construction along the river overlook, click the following link of time lapse photos:
Henry’s First Fish – Mitch Taylor shared on October 22nd:
Just two weekends of salmon fishing remain in Nova Scotia and fortunately I was able to book a little time away from the normal family routine to chase salmon. Unfortunately, we didn’t think to line up a babysitter incase my wife fell sick… and with all the flu bugs going around, that is exactly what happened.
With only two options, stay home and don’t fish — or, bring my 18 month old son, Henry to the river with me — we hit the road. Henry and I did a bit of fishing together over the last year and a half, but we hadn’t yet chased late season fish. Game time!
It ended up being an awesome weekend and one that I’ll never forget. 18 degrees and sunny, my son happily lounging in a backpack carrier as we waded and fished down several pools of a favourite river. All smiles, Henry was stoked to be with the boys and kicking back in the fresh fall air and sunshine. Typically, 40 minutes is his max carrier time but I think he knew Dad meant business. We ended up fishing on and off for 4 hours that day and finally around 6:30pm (he was already in his pj’s, ready for the drive home) we managed to hook up and land Henry’s first salmon. A small male grilse.
Henry giggled and laughed as he watched me land the fish. What a treat! Such a special moment to share and far better than fishing alone. I look forward to enjoying many more days like these together in the years to come.
The Margaree’s Aaron Allen shares:
Every weekend since mid-September my house has been littered with friends from the city swinging flies for Atlantic Salmon. A small home — comfortable for two — becomes extra “cozy” with 7 or 8 people and 3 dogs. And then there’s that unmistakeable hum. Why does it smell like that? It’s the waders that were worn for twelve straight hours hanging throughout, and the beer cans that have yet to make it to the recycling.
This October is markedly different from previous seasons. No longer are my Haligonian comrades and I convoying our cars down ATV trails in an effort to find a discreet place to camp for the night. We now have a roof, shower, hot meals and somewhere softish to sleep. All because I now reside in the Margaree, since taking on the role of Coordinator with the Margaree Salmon Association (MSA). Yes, I’m still pinching myself!
Since I have arrived here, it has been a very busy and exciting time. I’ve been getting up to speed on the work that MSA has been doing (reading forty years worth of newsletters in my first week), planning for our 40th anniversary AGM and Dinner Auction, finding our temperature loggers after Fiona (luckily, only lost at 2 sites), and presently knee deep in grant applications. Because of this, I have not had as much time to fish as my friends might think.
While entertaining visitors and showing off the most beautiful pools, I always let my guests have first pass. After all, I live here and can fish whenever I want — theoretically. But after thanksgiving weekend, I came to an unfortunate realization — It was quite possible that my first season as a Margaree resident would pass without my catching a salmon.
The following weekend, after some half-hearted passes, mostly due to post-work hunger, my next guests arrived. Newcomers to the Margaree and I wanted to give a full tour, showing off my favourite places. We began at Skye with an “alpine start” which just means you really feel that last beer from the night before, and we worked our way down to Tidal — hitting a few pools along the way. The story we heard from everyone we met was the same — lots of fish showing but no-one was hooking up. The following day we returned to Big Intervale to fish Ward’s Rock. We could see nice looking fish sitting throughout the pool. One pass each resulted in nothing. Second pass, I finally felt a tug and saw the unmistakeable splash as a fish took my black and blue marabou. My guest tailed the fish as if he had done it his whole life and we were all pretty humbled by just how pretty the hen was.
As I write this, a notification pops up on my phone. A text message from one friend saying that their recent Margaree trip was the highlight of 2022, and they want to ask about “booking in” for next year. That’s the magic of the Margaree — you can’t help but be drawn back.
Morgan Ozolins shares a memorable encounter on the Margaree River:
I had one final day left on the Margaree. It was gloomy, windy, and rainy as anything. I decided to take my time getting ready, and left later than usual. To my surprise, there was an older gentlemen just getting off the river. We talked for sometime, then he pulled a fly out of his pocket and hands it to me, saying: “Go fish the tail of this pool and nothing else”. By the look in his eye and the smirk on his face, I knew where I was going!
I arrived to every fishermen’s favourite site… a free pool, just me and the fish. I headed straight to the tail, one cast, two cast…. three she was on. My first salmon!
Grade 9 students from the St. Mary’s Education Centre and teachers, Janet O Brien and Sid Joe, joined the St. Mary’s River Association at Silver’s Pool this week to assist DFO in releasing mature St. Mary’s River adult salmon.
Staff from the Coldbrook Biodiversity Facility and Senior Biologist from DFO’s Ecosystem Management spoke to the students about the life cycle of salmon and the pristine nature of the St. Mary’s River. NS Program Director, Deirdre Green joined the group and spoke with the children about salmon as an indicator species and volunteering locally to help protect the watershed.
Lana Richardson, a passionate angler who hails from the north coast of Scotland, and now lives in Cairngorm National Park next to the River Spey, reflects on the 2022 season passed:
At the end of September, we see the close of salmon season on most of the northern mainland and island rivers. Some other Scottish salmon fisheries, predominantly those further south in the country, continue into October. And on some rivers like the Tweed, you can salmon fish until the end of November.
Often dedicated fishers will brave the cold and sometimes difficult conditions early in the season to try and win the prize of a February, March or even, a most special January ‘Springer’. Fresh fish run into the rivers in varying volumes year round, but in the winter months finding these running fish is like finding a needle in a haystack.
As spring approaches, the number of salmon running into most Scottish systems begins to steadily increase and the chances of catching one becomes much greater. During June, we usually see the first grilse run. We will then commonly have a prominent run of ‘summer’ fish sometime in July. If the rivers have enough water through late summer and into the autumn, salmon will continue to trickle in off the tide.
A problematic factor, most likely related to climate change, and one which many rivers around Scotland faced this year, was a desperate lack of water. Rainfall from May through to September was scarce. With the increase in temperature over the summer months and low water levels, on occasion some fisheries chose to stop fishing. Of course, low water in the rivers also impacts fish still out at sea. Salmon that have chosen not to run into the systems yet — perhaps sensing a lack of water and high temperatures — are at a greater threat of predation whilst waiting in the bays and estuaries.
On a positive note, on some rivers in Scotland this year, especially out on the Outer Hebrides, there have been fantastic grilse runs noted with high numbers of solid fish — better than in more recent years. There have also been reports of some rivers and beats seeing catch numbers within some months this season, surpassing those from the early 2000’s! And again this year, many rivers where electrofishing is used to collect data on juvenile fish have reported very healthy populations of fry and parr — a consistently reassuring point for Scottish salmon.
With the increased rainfall during September and October, catches across Scotland (for rivers still open) generally increased in comparison to July and August. Along with the strong grilse runs, some notably large multi-sea winter fish have been caught and lost this year across the country. Yet another promising sign amongst the general concerning trend of decline.
On a personal note, 2022 has been a wonderful year of salmon fishing for me. I caught my first ever March ‘springer’, met a lot of wonderful new people through fishing, travelled to and fished for Atlantic salmon in beautiful Newfoundland, fished on 21 different rivers across Scotland and learned a much more about Atlantic salmon behaviour. Some days were frustrating and others fruitful, but that’s salmon fishing. Here’s to a great season and to the next that awaits!
NL Program Director, Don Ivany highlights the excellent work being accomplished by the Freshwater Alexander Bays Ecosystem Corporation (FABEC):
FABEC is actively working on several salmon rivers in central Newfoundland, including the Terra Nova River. In just the past year, they have completed the following, and much more:
– Operation of salmon counting traps on the Terra Nova River and Middle Brook under contract with DFO
– Temperature profile and river survey project for Terra Nova River. Partners include ASCF, DFO, and Terra Nova National Park.
– Aquatic Connectivity Survey of watercourse crossings under contract with DFO
– Employed a staff of six, including two students, on all projects
Since 2019 FABEC has undertaken surveys of watercourse crossings under contract with DFO. This has involved assessments of over 200 culverts on highways, town streets, forestry resource roads, the Newfoundland T’Railway and the NALCOR Transmission corridor. It also involved an assessment of old logging dams built by the AND Company as part of its river drive operations.
2022 Season Update – from Quebec Program Director, Charles Cusson:
Since the initial publication in early October of the 2022 season preliminary results, the list of rivers has been added to and some information corrected.
Mise à jour de la saison 2022
Il y a des rivières qui se sont rajoutées à la liste depuis la publication des données préliminaires au début d’octobre.
Friends in various areas of New Brunswick have commented that since the season has ended, rain has come and conditions are excellent for spawning. Redd counts are being completed and more will follow on this next week.
In addition, DNR’s Rodney MacEachern has released the following final reports for the year:
Please join us.
ASF will be honoring John Dillion for his outstanding leadership and longstanding support during our 40th annual New York Gala on Wednesday, November 9, 2022. The event is hosted by The Pierre 2 East 61st Street at Fifth Avenue in New York City. We would be delighted to have you join us.
To make reservations, please visit the link below. We look forward to seeing you there.
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