Subscribe & stay up-to-date with ASF
Jun 14, 2023
“Fishing is not an escape from life, but often a deeper immersion into it.” – Harry Middleton
As I embark on my journey to explore Canada’s pristine salmon habitat, this quote by Harry Middleton resonates with me. It reminds me that fishing is not just about seeking solace or temporary reprieve from life’s challenges, but rather a profound connection to and engagement with nature.
It’s exciting to see anglers venture to rivers across salmon country, pursuing their passion. There are many layers to our experiences and the photographs we share. Our love, care, and excitement extend beyond the personal enjoyment of encountering wild Atlantic salmon. It’s the memories and connections we forge during these adventures that drive us to protect these magnificent fish and their habitats, even when we’re away from the water.
My own journey through writing and reading this blog has opened my eyes to a world that is really inspiring. The breadth and depth of the efforts to protect, preserve, and celebrate Atlantic salmon is remarkable. From the generosity of donors to the dedication of volunteers, from passionate anglers to nature enthusiasts, the collective work being done is yielding positive results. The returns of large and impressive fish worldwide stand as a testament to these efforts. It is a remarkable sight to behold!
As I continue to delve into the stories and experiences shared within this community, I’m fuelled with a renewed sense of purpose and appreciation for the intricate web of connections that bind us to the natural world. It’s a privilege to see the commitment and passion that drives each individual’s contribution to the conservation and stewardship of Atlantic salmon
Our new Campaign Director is Andrew Clarke, a New Brunswick conservationist with a longstanding love for nature that dates from his early days of chasing bird dogs and fishing for trout. Andrew has seen firsthand the troubling decline of the salmon population due to climate change and habitat loss. Motivated to make a difference, he dove into conservation efforts. In his role as Campaign Director for ASF, Andrew has found a platform to drive significant change. With ASF’s mission to preserve wild
Atlantic salmon, he spearheads innovative solutions and advocacy to ensure their long-term sustainability.
Join us on June 30th, 6pm at Big Spruce Brewing in Baddeck, Cape Breton for an exciting showing of the International Fly Fishing Film Festival! Attendance is free, and we encourage donations to support our cause. Get ready to enjoy a fantastic evening filled with captivating films, refreshing beer, delicious food, and exciting gear giveaways. Don’t miss out on this incredible event!
Follow this link to sign up and make a donation!
New Brunswick Director, Serge Collin, reports:
Last week, I participated in a 3-day river restoration workshop, hosted by the Canadian Rivers Institute on the UNB campus in Fredericton.
Originally developed by Dr. Bob Newbury, the workshop was delivered by Kari Alex and Zoe Eyjolfson from the Okanagan Nation Alliance, who have combined over 30 years experience in river restoration, including dam removal and riverbank stabilization projects.
Participants from different parts of the Maritime provinces and representing different organizations learned the process of implementing a river restoration from beginning-to-end, including planning, design, construction, stream analysis, river hydraulics, pool-riffle design and adaptive management.
The workshop included a field visit to a habitat restoration project, and hands on activities to demonstrate concepts.
The Miramichi Salmon Association’s 2023 Fry Stocking program is well underway. Stocking sites are selected based on electrofishing data and river access. Furthermore, MSA will be carrying out fry stocking on the Dungarvon River this year as part of a DFO-approved research program which will help them compare traditional fry stocking program to novel stocking technique
Prince Edward Island and WSW Program Director, Kris Hunter, reports:
Over the weekend I attended the Riverbank Heritage Days event hosted by the Trout River Environmental Committee at Carr’s Oyster Bar and Wildlife Centre in Stanley Bridge, PEI. This drop-in event was a huge success, featuring information booths, family activities, live music, and presentations by various conservation groups.
At the event, I had the opportunity to represent ASF and discuss our work in salmon conservation. Our booth attracted a lot of attention, and I was one of the presenters, highlighting the importance of collaboration with local and regional partners. We proudly showcased our partnerships with organizations such as the Trout River Environmental Group, PEI Watershed Alliance, Hunter Clyde Watershed Group, Kensington North Watersheds Group, Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association, PEI Invasive Species Council, and the PEI Wild Child Program by the Sierra Club.
The event garnered a significant turnout, and we received numerous compliments for our work and the support we provide to other organizations in salmon conservation. It was a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness and showcase the impact of our collaborative efforts.
Overall, Riverbank Heritage Days was a resounding success, bringing together various stakeholders and promoting the importance of environmental conservation and the protection of salmon populations.
Deirdre Green, Nova Scotia Program Director, reports:
I’m happy to report that many salmon rivers in Nova Scotia are at optimum water levels following a much-needed drenching. I attended the Nova Scotia Salmon Association’s Annual General Meeting in Halifax last evening, and the excitement was palpable. We celebrated the fantastic work accomplished here by our provincial council, and the sheer number of healthy salmon (and sea trout) anglers are seeing on our rivers.
It’s a sacred time of gathering and reconnecting riverside. Jordan Eastman shares: “In the hectic society in which we live, it’s unbelievable how these beautiful creatures can reset us and our appreciation for the simple things.”
A certain giddiness emanates from both novice and veteran fishers. And while Atlantic salmon are at the centre, an intense love for wild spaces and solitude is woven throughout.
While taking a quick flick last week, a Chestnut-sided warbler landed on my fly rod, sang a pretty tune, and darted away. I don’t have a photograph of the moment to share, but it’s an image that will be imprinted on my memory for a long time. Sitting on the bank, watching the water, and talking with like-minded individuals, I feel whole. I encourage you all, in this era of likes and followers, influencers, and content creators, to put away the cameras and leave your phones at home. I challenge you to be intentional by soaking in these precious moments with all your senses. Our rivers are sanctuaries that demand our protection but our reverence as well.
Charles Cusson, Quebec Program Director, reports:
Pour le français cliquez ici
The situation of North Shore rivers affected by the recent forest fires has slowly started to settle down. The government has permitted river managers to restart angling activities.
The Moisie Protection Association (APRM) has received the green light to continue their fishing season. As of June 11, for the area it manages, 25 salmon have been reported landed cumulatively since June 9, including 18 releases.
The Causapscal River continues to perform well as, with 64 reported catches, including 38 releases, as of June 11th.
The Matapédia is off to a slower start with 16 releases recorded through June 11. As on other rivers, fishing pressure is on the rise this season, which translates into 1,217 rod-days sold compared to 827 during the same period of time in 2022
On the rivers of Greater Gaspé, there is a worrying trend that is emerging. Anglers, for the most part, do not declare their releases, which has forced the Zec to act. Click HERE to find out more.
Last week, a film crew faced extreme conditions due to 110 MMS of rain that fell in Gaspé affecting York, Dartmouth and Saint-Jean. The team, led by the FQSA (Quebec Federation for Atlantic Salmon) in collaboration with Hooké, the FSA (Federation of Atlantic Salmon) and the Zec Gaspé was on site to record video capsules dealing with best practices for the water. The filming was a success and the finished product will be a source of information that will contribute to the sustainability of the salmon resource.
By June 15, several rivers will begin their 2023 season
Newfoundland and Labrador Program Director, Don Ivany reports:
Anglers in NL have been praying for rain to rejuvenate our salmon rivers. Well, our prayers were answered! Heavy rain across the Island and Labrador caused a significant rise in water levels. The central region of the Island, including the Gander and Terra Nova rivers, had been suffering from low water levels for the past two seasons. Thankfully, this past week’s rain brought much-needed relief. The water discharge on the Gander River jumped from 75 c/m/s to 252 c/m/s (see attached hydrometric graph). Unfortunately, the rivers are currently too high for fishing. Similar conditions prevail in many other NL rivers, except for a few on the Avalon Peninsula and the south coast, which received less rain and remain low. However, angling conditions are near perfect in the Bay St. George area as water levels have receded. We’re hopeful that the heavy rain will attract a good run of fresh fish to the majority of rivers.
Anglers have reported sporadic fishing since opening day, but as the high-water levels recede in the coming week, we anticipate an improvement. Water temperatures on most rivers remain cool, with a few exceptions.
In Labrador, the recreational salmon season officially opens on June 15th. Heavy rain in Southern Labrador caused a sharp rise in river levels last week. However, recent reports indicate that water levels have been dropping since, and rivers like Forteau should be in excellent shape for fishing on opening day. Central Labrador rivers, such as the Eagle River, have been gradually receding since late May and are expected to be in good condition as well. Interestingly, water temperatures on the Eagle River have been unusually high for this time of year, occasionally exceeding 20 degrees Celsius.
As for our ongoing research efforts, I’ve been busy preparing for the deployment of three lines of tracking receivers across the Strait of Belle Isle. These final preparations are complete, and we’re gearing up for the deployment this week (see attached photo of me initializing the receivers for this season’s deployment – Heather Perry photo).
Note: DFO NL has yet to release fishway counts for NL, but we expect them to do so within the next week.
We’ve made it to the island! Madelyn and I touched down on Sunday night, ready to join forces with Don [Ivany] for our adventure. Yesterday, we hit the road and headed up the west coast. Our first pitstop was at Bakers Brook Falls, where we couldn’t resist soaking up the awe-inspiring scenery. Don had a special request for us: capture the impact of the recent heavy rain on the rivers we passed. Although snapping clear pictures from the car was a bit tricky, our shots at Bakers Brook tell the tale of the surging water levels.
Today, our focus is getting those tracking receivers rigged up and ready to roll. Our goal? To deploy the first line this afternoon and the second line tomorrow. However, the Strait of Belle Isle has been playing host to some icy visitors lately. That means any fog or wind could complicate our crossing. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for clear skies during these first crucial days. The smolt migration is just around the corner, and we can’t afford any delays
ASF Maine Habitat Restoration Project Manager Jeff Reardon reports:
The Milford Dam fish lift opened just over a month ago, and the sea-run fish counts are indicating a fantastic year for river herring. The combined count of alewife and blueback herring returns has already surpassed 5 million as of June 11th, setting a record for the highest return so far. Before the removal of
the Veazie and Great Works Dams, river herring numbers above the head of tide at Veazie were practically non-existent. It’s truly a remarkable turnaround.
Salmon returns have also been exceptionally strong this year. By June 11th, a total of 810 salmon have either passed through or been collected as broodstock. While it’s still early in the migration season, this is the best return we’ve seen at this stage since 2011 and the second highest on record since 1978. However, interpreting salmon returns is challenging due to unusual river flows and water temperatures. Early spring run-off and rising temperatures by mid-May have created a complex scenario. Water temperatures in the lower Penobscot reached 68°F (~20°C) by early June. However, a week of light rain and cold weather caused temperatures to drop back to 60°F/15°C, resulting in a decrease in both salmon and river herring returns per day. Shad returns have been low so far, with approximately 2700 shad passed by June 11. We expect shad numbers to increase rapidly as water temperatures rebound in June.
The Kennebec River has seen a positive year for salmon, with 64 two-sea-winter (2SW) salmon captured by June 6, nearly double the count compared to the same period in 2022. It’s worth noting that the Kennebec restoration effort focuses on reintroducing salmon into the previously empty habitat in the Sandy River, starting with an egg-planting program in 2010. Since 2014, the annual number of returning salmon has steadily grown from 10-20 fish per year to last year’s 82, a number that will likely be surpassed this year. However, concerns remain regarding attraction flows and delays to the Lockwood fish lift. Additionally, salmon and other fish still need to complete their migration to the high-quality habitat in the Sandy River by truck. Unfortunately, it’s been another disappointing year for shad passage on the Kennebec, with only 3 shad collected at the Lockwood lift by June 6. This is not due to a lack of shad in the river, as anglers have been catching shad below the dam for the past month, particularly downstream of the fish lift entrance.
Exciting times lie ahead for salmon and river herring, with the numbers showing promise for a successful year. However, challenges and concerns persist, and efforts are ongoing to ensure the continued restoration and conservation of these valuable fish populations.
We’ve experienced a slight slowdown at the fishway this week on the Penobscot River in Maine. The recent dip in temperature, coupled with increased flows caused by rainfall, has affected the fish counts. However, it’s important to note that this kind of weather is actually beneficial for the fish!
Currently, the river temperature is approximately 63 degrees Fahrenheit, while the flows are around 20,000 cubic ft/sec. These flow rates greatly exceed the station’s capacity and create a phenomenon known as false attraction, making it challenging for fish to locate the fishway. However, as the flows
recede and the temperature rises, we anticipate an improvement in activity, especially for species like shad and sea lamprey.
While the slower fish counts may be a temporary setback, we remain optimistic about the overall health of the Penobscot River ecosystem. The natural fluctuations in temperature and flow patterns play an essential role in the fish’s life cycles and habitat dynamics.
As we move forward, we will continue to monitor the river conditions and provide updates on the progress of fish migration. Stay tuned for more information on the Penobscot River’s thriving salmon and other aquatic species.