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Is Wild Salmon on Your Menu, Maybe Not For Long

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March 5th, 2018

In 2017 the Atlantic Salmon run on the Exploits River was way down. The total number of fish to pass through the counting facility was a mere 15,563. Albeit this is not a bad number but it is a lot less than was hoped for.

As of July 9th a pathetic 2500 fish had entered the main river above the dam when a five year average shows 12,500 for the same timeframe. Most all salmon runs on rivers throughout Newfoundland had similar low numbers of returning fish.

What's more pathetic is that DFO are at a loss to explain why. They are currently pointing fingers at the loss of smolt exiting the river systems and returning to the open sea but failing to survive once there. Basically if these immature salmon don't survive, there are no fish returning to bring numbers up. Worst still if mortality of smolt at sea increases numbers of returning fish will further decrease.

Eleven of the fifteen rivers that had counting facilities on them experienced similar low numbers. In fact numbers were so low not a single river had enough returning fish to meet minimum spawning biomass, a frightening scenario for scientists.

What does all this mean for for the average angler hoping to diverse his or her diet with wild Atlantic Salmon one might ask?

Plenty! Simply put if numbers don't improve very very early during this year's run you can expect more of the same from last year.

If your memory eludes you that means a hook and release fishery only. However the season hasn't opened yet and a complete ban on the retention of any of these highly sought after fish is quite possible as a way to combat low numbers.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, I'm assuming there will be a few unhappy campers!!!!

However my belief is that tags will be issued as in previous years with in season reviews taking place throughout the early part of the season and if numbers are not inline with DFO's expectations an immediate ban on retention will be implemented. Whether rivers are closed to angling altogether we will have to take a wait and see approach.




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