Salmon fishing season kicks off Sunday 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 spoke with Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) division resource manager Jason Simms last week about changes to the province’s river classification system, and new services being offered.
Simms said DFO changed the way it classifies rivers in the province after consulting several conservation groups.
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 or six fish, respectively.
“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,” Simms said. “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 2 we know, ‘Oh, I can take two fish on this river.’
“The simpler the better.”
While the retention level for most rivers 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.
The 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 such as low water levels and high water temperatures. Another new initiative from DFO for the 2014 season will get information to anglers about river closures more quickly and easily.
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 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 basically be able to see if the river you’re 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 it’s closed, so this is just another avenue to get information out to the public.”
DFO has started wading into social media and has created a Twitter account: @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 more information on the 2014 salmon fishing season, pick up an angler’s guide wherever licences are sold, 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.