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Jamie with his Trout
Jamie's GP

Around the steal no tortured worm shall tweine
No blood of living insect stain my line:
Let me, less cruel, cast the feathered hook,
With pliant line across the pebbled brook.

John Gray, from Rural Sports (1720)


DFO Considers Closing Pools on St. Mary’s River


On June 14, 2011, a community meeting was held in Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia regarding the St. Mary’s River. The purpose of the meeting was to decide how to advise our Dept. of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) in “developing a list of pools that, when closed, will significantly reduce the fishing problem and, at the same time, maintain most of the legitimate trout fishery.”


The meeting room was packed with concerned community members who responded, unanimously, asking DFO to open the salmon angling season and leave the entire river system open to general fishing for trout, sea-trout, shad etc.


Another unanimous recommendation was that DFO develop a salmon recovery strategy for the St. Mary’s River. The St. Mary’s River Association (SMRA) agreed to send the community recommendations to DFO, with endorsements from the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s, the Eastern Sportfish Association, and the Mulgrave and Area Lakes Enhancement Association.


Then, on June 17, 2001 bad news began to circulate – that DFO is somewhere in the process of closing certain pools on the St. Mary’s River to all fishing. As of Monday, June 20, we’ve been unable to obtain any details. This initiative, along with other recent actions by DFO would suggest that DFO cares only about the aquaculture industry and not about wild salmon, the sport fishery, and rural communities. Let’s hope DFO considers our community’s advice and reconsiders its plan.


Nine pools on Nova Scotia’s LaHave River were closed in a similar move, yet Cooke

Aquaculture’s salmon farm acquisition and development plans were approved, despite the risk posed to wild salmon populations. It seems DFO has given up hope that wild salmon populations can recover, or maybe DFO would prefer that they don’t recover, removing another obstacle to aquaculture development.


If this trend is allowed to continue we may see the demise of wild salmon in Nova Scotia within the decade. Here’s how Dr. Malcolm Greenhalgh, a British expert on the natural history of salmon and sea-trout, sees our future:

“Provided we continue to improve the quality of salmon rivers, as has been done over the last two or three decades, the future of the Atlantic salmon lies in the Atlantic Ocean itself. There are three possible scenarios:

1.       The oceanic climate continues in its present state. If this occurs, salmon mortality at sea will remain fairly high, especially for fish that would otherwise have returned as MSW salmon. Our efforts to improve the fresh water habitat will result in improved smolt production in rivers. If governments can be persuaded to regulate the salmon farming industry (to reduce sea louse infestations and escapees), we will see runs increase in some rivers and reduced genetic contamination of wild salmon populations.


2. The oceanic climate improves. If this happens, salmon survival at sea could improve dramatically and match that of the 1960s. If, as well as this, we continued to improve river habitats, and if the problems associated with salmon farming can be addressed, salmon populations could flourish as they have not done in recent history.


3. The oceanic climate worsens. Were this to occur, Salmo salar could easily become extinct — everywhere.

If the third of these scenarios were to become a reality, I wouldn't hold out much hope for Homo sapiens either! But I am an optimist.”

Dr. Greenhalgh’s insight is from his book Atlantic Salmon, an illustrated natural history, Stackpole Books, 2005.

On Sunday, June 26, the Eastern Sportfish Association (ESA) has its annual general meeting at the Stillwater Community Hall, 2    4 pm. It is a public meeting, and if you enjoy sport fishing you’ll be among friends. In a few words, ESA’s goal is MORE FISHING, NOT NO FISHING!


Two weeks ago an enormous sea trout was caught at the top of St. Mary’s River’s Ford Pool. The fish measured 27 inches, was estimated to weigh 6 lbs, and was released alive. Contrary to naysayers at DFO and NSSA, the St. Mary’s sea trout fishery is to be taken seriously, especially with a Labrador-sized sea trout showing up!


The fish had to be held up for the photo because the scene was zoomed in from the other side of the river. The great photo is by Troy Sutherland. His fishing buddy, Jamie Works, caught the huge trout. Jamie kindly consented to having the fly photographed, a large General Practitioner shrimp imitation.


For some reason the fly is still attached to Jamie’s leader!


Please send comments and suggestions to slim@rivermagic.ca


Please stay on the line …