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Classic Atlantic Salmon No pursuit rivals salmon rivers, flies & legacy

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Topic Review (Newest First)
01-22-2003 10:04 AM
Gardener Juro, I agree with much of what you say. The use of hatcheries is quite a hot topic over here, as we look for ways to reverse the decline in salmon numbers. For my part, I doubt their value in many situations. Too often they are a relatively easy 'solution' to declining runs, which avoids addressing the real underlying problems. Many of our rivers are quite acidic and support little invertebrate life; there is thus a finite number of parr that they can support, and the population will always regulate itself down to this level. Stocking a river that already holds its quota of parr will not add a single adult fish to the returning runs, and a relatively small number of successful redds can fill a river to capacity. As with pacific salmon, nature produces a huge surplus - I believe that the average annual run of salmon in the Spey equates to the output of about 10 successful spawning pairs (assuming zero mortality, of course!).

Having said that, we have a few rivers (eg the Wye) where the runs have fallen so low that the river may no longer be stocked to capacity with parr. In these circumstances a hatchery does have benefits. They can also help increase a run of salmon by stocking tributaries that are inaccessible to spawning fish (eg where there is an impassable obstacle). But they should not be regarded as a substitute for habitat improvement. I also firmly believe that it is desirable to stock with offspring of fish from that same river, which will have adapted over millennia to suit that particular water and are to some degree genetically distinct. If native brood stock are not available, it makes sense to try to match the river conditions as closely as possible.

You say the Greenland fishery is the biggest threat to salmon, and I would not wish to underestimate its impact. However, there is quite a well-founded theory that global warming may be a significant cause of the decline we have seen recently. Evidently the area of the atlantic which is the right temperature for salmon to feed has shrunk dramatically with the melting of the polar ice cap. My knowledge is fairly sketchy, but it has been suggested out that, along with the by-catch of post-smolts by Russian mackerel trawlers, this is the only factor that has changed in recent years, coinciding with a serious decline in runs of salmon (particularly 2+ sea winter fish). This is a much more serious problem than netting, and one that cannot be cured with mere money. I believe it was raised at last summer's international salmon symposium in Edinburgh; unfortunately the papers haven't been published yet.
01-22-2003 09:06 AM
removed_by_request Juro,

Hatchery fish do not compare the the original wild strains, but I have seen what good habitat and stocking practices do for a fishery.

All of our(Great Lakes) fish are PNW imports. We have many rivers that support a 'wild" strain. Some rivers have not been planted in 20 years. These fish over time had the wildness bred back in them. They fight like mad are are beautiful specimims.

I fear the Maine broodstock may be so low that the fish can't bounce back without man's intervention. Wether that is good or bad remains to be seen.

I feel your pain when it comes to the loss of wild stocks and the continued relying on hatchery fiah. Perhaps it will help sustain a population of thriving fish. Only problem is it may take 20 to 30 years to do it.
01-22-2003 03:23 AM
Penobscot Atlantic's

The Penoby Atlantics are almost exclusively Miramichi transplants. The runs of fish that started returning in respectable numbers, late 70's to early/mid 90's, are but a product of a hatchery. It is still believed that there are small numbers of late returning wild fish to a few of the lower tribs, however the river has been functionally extinct for a long, long time.

The downeast rivers are being tinkered with through a captive rearing/breeding program to help jump start the smolt numbers in attempts to get a few more adults on the redds. Returning adult numbers rose a bit but they fell right back to almost zero last season. Too many obstacles- agriculture, timber harvest, and aquaculture remain. Unless the government agencies step up to the plate to improve habitat RIGHT NOW, the last struggling wild fish will be gone in short order. I don't give them more than another 10 years at best.

I had planned on fishing the Narraguagus and Penobscot in '97 but the lure of Quebec pulled too strongly. I now regret the decision to skip Maine as I seriously doubt, endangered listing or not, I will ever get the chance again to wet a line for our native US salmon.
01-21-2003 09:33 PM
pmflyfisher That it appears to be what they are doing in Iceland, stocking with hatchery atlantic salmon smolts to maintain high returns.

Wild fish appear to be at risk there to.

Read through the web site link above, they have a full page or so on their fishery program.

PM Out
01-21-2003 09:07 PM
juro May the Maine salmon prosper in the years to come! They are America's only atlantics.

I certainly hope they do not dilute any native strains with hatchery production, they should focus on spawning habitat and closing all fisheries until they rebound in a natural state. Putting an artificial run of atlantics in the river means nothing, the salmon are gone even if the 'plants' thrive. This to me represents failure. To me it's like a pond wherein a truck dumps browns and rainbows, the pond does not "have trout", the pond was planted with trout that may or may not even survive the season, put there for the purposes of exploitation by anglers and no other reason.

Much of the north atlantic salmon depletion problem comes from open seas netting off the Greenland coast as proven by Vigfussen. But hatcheries don't bring back a single native salmon.

01-21-2003 08:55 PM
Smolt The only person who didn't have to wait in line to fish the Wringer Pool was Jimmy Carter. Yes, that Jimmy Carter. He came down once with a camera crew to document his attempts to get a salmon on the Penobscot. That was when the fishery was in full swing and all the government people were holding up the river as an example of how a fishery could be brought back from near extinction -- which had been the case during the 1960's and much of the 1970's.

Waiting to fish that pool wasn't fun, but it wasn't as bad as it sounds. The vast majority of the people on line were very pleasant and, on the days when I was there, the weather was very nice. I used to bring a portable vise and some fly tying materials and tie flies while I waited. There was one fisherman who had lost an arm in a logging accident who, after giving me the recipe for one of the "secret" flies of the Penobscot at the time, was the recipient of a number of my fly tying efforts. If memory serves, the fly was called the "Verdict" and its pattern is now pretty well known.

I usually fished at the Dickson Pool, which was on the opposite side of the river from the Wringer Pool. The wait there was not as long, but the pool was smaller so, once you got into the water, you spent less time fishing.

I really miss fishing salmon on the Penobscot, but, hopefully, the fish will be back for my boys to enjoy.

01-21-2003 08:25 PM
pmflyfisher Wow, wait 2-3 hours to fish one pool, and we think we have it bad at times waiting a few minutes or hour to fish a good pool that another angler or two may be in.

I don't know if I would have the patience for that.

PM Out
01-21-2003 07:56 PM
Smolt Until about 1990, the Penobscot River in Maine had a "substantial" run of Atlantic salmon. By that I mean there were anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 returning fish estimated each year. In the mid-1980's, June fishing could be nothing short of fantastic, but it was crowded. I remember having to wait anywhere from 2 to 3 hours to get my rotation into the Wringer Pool one weekend. That pool would hold anywhere from 8 to 10 anglers comfortably at any one time. A turn through that pool took about 30 minutes, and it was not unusual to see 15 fish taken from that pool in one day. Even though I labored at it mightily for about five seasons, much to my chagrin, I never caught a fish in the Penobscot.

01-21-2003 06:55 PM
removed_by_request Keep your fingers crossed Maine may actually bring these babies back. The feds labeled them endangered, that labeling should increase plantings of hatchery fish. Give it 10 years and you may have a natural reproducition.

Seeing as how if you go north into Canada the fish runs are fairly decent, they may bounce back in Maine.

It would be a nice treat to go there to C&R some Atlantics.

Of course there is a good population in the St. mary's which is worth exploring. Canada is pretty far ahead of us with the offering of a cheaper and more sensible Conservation lincense (C&R only). Perhaps if the states adopted that we may see bigger returns all around.
01-05-2003 06:25 PM
Icelandic - Atlantic Salmon

Was surfing around and looking up Icelandic atlantic salmon sites.
This looks like a new one.

See Angling section gives maps and excellent information on all trout, salmon, and char fishing in Iceland.

Looks like they are going to more fly fishing only, limiting the worm fisherman excessive killing, and have gone to smolt stocking to supplement the wild salmon reproductions which have had problems due to low river flows due to less snow and rain.

Interesting read.

Spent a year in Iceland in the USAF in 1967, I can only imagine what great atlantic fly fishing I missed out on, but I was basically 24x7 that year keeping the fighter inteceptors flying detering the russions from NATO air space.

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