One day they are going to show up in our backyard in one guise or another. Instead of being tagged as a bass angler or a trout angler or a salmon angler or---, wouldn't it be great if we were all just fellow anglers who shared a common love of the sport not just a specific species. Then we could band together as a large group to make sure the anti's don't get in the back door here.
I am involved with the discussions going at DNRE on these proposed regulation changes and I believe from all of the Salmon research papers I have read that Bass are not the problem. In our first meeting on this issue we asked for some of the Salmon groups to be invited to the next meeting and they will be represented which is great. We are blessed with a wonderful resource with multiple species to suit all styles of angling and we need to preserve all of it for future generations.
The last Survey on Recreational angling in the Province of New Brunswick pretty much splits the expenditures by anglers in half. About 50% to the Saint John River Basin and the other half to the rest of the Province. The half that is spent on the Saint John River Basin is, for the most part, on warm water species. The other half is more towards cold water species such as the Atlantic Salmon. Both sectors generate large amounts of revenue for our Province and all of it is important.
Do I think that the Salmon are coming back in the Saint John River Basin? Based on the research I have read, I don't believe so but there are others who would disagree with me. I think that the DNRE should allocate their resources where it will get the most bang for the limited amount they have to spend and that the bulk of the money being spent on Salmon should go to Zones 1 through 5 where they can have the greatest impact. I am not saying to ignore the Saint John fish but there has been a ton of money put into it over the years with no return.
The research papers say that the river is too warm in the summer for Salmon to survive and global warming is not going away. The research says that extensive clear cutting has reduced cover on the rivers and streams also contributing to rising water temperatures. Agricultural runoff dirties up the water and reduces oxygen levels to life threatening levels. I have personally seen the St. John River chocolate brown from Hartland all the way down to where I live at Longs Creek. There are increased phosphate loads in the water system due to the need to have the greenest lawn in the neighborhood. Fertilizer and pestisides end up in the water shed further reducing water quality. The warm water species tolerate it better than trout and salmon. The Salmon that do survive go out to sea and don’t come back. The smolts that migrate out of the river disappear and no one knows why. I do know that the Bass didn’t eat them in the Bay of Fundy but they are still gone. If you take the time to search it out there is a ton of scientific research on what the problems are with Atlantic Salmon and very few of them assign blame to Smallmouth Bass.
As anglers we need to come together and fix what we can fix without pointing fingers at each other. Wouldn’t it be great when the anti’s have come to New Brunswick to sit around the fire with some fellow anglers, maybe with a nice cold one, and be able to say “ I’ll bet they wish they had never showed their faces here because we're stronger together.”