Warm summer was ‘poor’ for salmon season



FREDERICTON — Salmon fishing along much of the Miramichi River has come to a close in what’s being described as a disappointing season.

“It was very poor,” said Mark Hambrook, president of the Miramichi Salmon Association and past president of the New Brunswick Salmon Council.

“I think once we add it up, this will be one of the poorer years we’ve seen for grilse in over a decade. It was an average year for large salmon.”

According to figures collected by Fisheries and Oceans Canada for the season ended Oct. 15, the number of grilse – year-old salmon returning to the river for the first time – was down more than 75 per cent compared to last year while salmon counts were down about 40 per cent.

While the 2012 season comes in the wake of a record-setting 2011, Habrook says this was below average.

“It was poor all summer because of warm temperatures. “

Through much of August, fishing along most of the Miramichi River system was confined to a five-hour stretch between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. each day because of summer conditions that left the water low in level and unusually warm. Biologists and fishermen were concerned that catch-and-release fish wouldn’t have the time to recover before the warm afternoon sun.

Another 15 salmon pools were closed July 27 and didn’t reopen.

Debbie Norton, an outfitter who runs Upper Oxbow Outdoor Adventures Inc. near Red Bank, said those who love angling for salmon will keep their fingers crossed this winter.

“It’s the luck of the draw. It’s salmon fishing. That’s why we call it ‘fishing’ and not ‘catching’.”

“The grilse run didn’t happen, but nobody knows why. Hopefully the juveniles grow big for next year.

“It was a slow season, but we’re looking forward to 2013 being more productive as far as numbers go.”