Salmon fishing season is open and anglers are getting ready to hit rivers like the great Exploits River, pictured.
Salmon fishing season kicked off on June 1 and there are undoubtedly many people who can’t wait to get out on the water for a day of sun and relaxation.
And with 183 salmon rivers in the province there are plenty of ways to enjoy this fun summer activity.
The Advertiser caught up with Department of Fisheries and Oceans Newfoundland and Labrador division resource manager Jason Simms last week to talk about some changes to the province’s river classification system, and get the details on new services that will help anglers access information about closures more easily.
After consultation with several conservation groups in the province, Simms said DFO has changed the way they classify rivers in the province.
In the new system, the class number of a river will be the same as the number of salmon an angler is allowed to keep.
For example, the Exploits River, which was originally a Class I river, meaning an angler could keep six fish, is now a Class 6 river. The old names of Class I through Class IV will no longer be used. Rivers will now be classified as Class 0, which is for catch and release rivers, Class 2, Class 4, and Class 6, meaning anglers can keep two, four and six fish, respectively.
Simms said the hope is that this new system will be more intuitive for anglers.
“For 99 per cent of the rivers that people have fished for the last number of years the retention hasn’t changed with the classification. All we’ve done is try and make something a bit more user friendly, especially for new anglers coming in. With this system if we say it’s a Class II we know, ‘Oh, I can take two fish on this river,’” he said.
“The simpler the better.”
While the retention level for most rivers in the province hasn’t changed since the 2013 season, there are three that will see some changes.
Middle Barachois, located in Bay St. George, will move from a non-retention river to a Class 2 for the 2014 season.
Terra Nova river, located near the Town of Terra Nova, and Rattling Brook, which runs into the Bay of Exploits, will remain Class 2 rivers but will see some changes to specific areas.
Every so often during the fishing season, rivers must close due to environmental factors like low water levels and high water temperatures. Another new initiative from DFO for the 2014 season will make getting information to anglers about river closures quicker and easier.
In addition to DFO’s angling line, which river users can call and get pre-recorded updates on closures or any other notices, there will now be a link on DFO’s website that will update anglers on any information they need to know before they hit the water.
“Instead of having to phone in and pick the right zone and listen to me, now you can use a device and and basically be able to see if the river your planning to fish is open or closed and when it is closed the dates will be there,” Simms said.
“Obviously, if a river is closed for conservation purposes, we want to make sure people know that’s closed, so this is just another avenue to get information out to the public.”
In addition to the website, DFO has started wading the social media waters and have created a Twitter account that can be followed at @DFO_NL. Simms said the department will share information and update followers on various announcements using the hash tags #NLSalmon and #NLTrout.
“It’s something new from a government perspective … but we’re hoping (the public) will find it a useful way to get information.”
Anglers can pick up their licences through local DFO offices, and at a number of gas stations and other stores across the province. Adult and family licences are $17 and senior licences are $11.05.
For a wealth of important information on the 2014 salmon fishing season, pick up an anglers guide wherever licences are purchased, or view or download it online at www.nfl.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/NL/AG/anglersguide. To check for river closures visit www.inter.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/NL/River-Status/In-Season, or call the closure line at 709-772-4423.