Fishing Friends – I received a fair education on the history of Cains River brook trout fishing when I was researching On the Cains. One thing that I was quite surprised to learn was that many of the largest sea run brookies caught in the last century were actually caught within the last ten or fifteen years. As recently seven or eight years ago some very good catches of brook trout of Labrador proportions were being regularly made up on the Miramichi and the Cains from late May to early July. Those catches have dropped off alarmingly at all locations. Many people suspect that the main culprit is the out-of-whack striped bass population that appears to be gobbling up not only Atlantic salmon smolts but brook trout, smelts and gasperaux.
Just continuing to complain about DFO’s frustratingly slow response to correct the bass problem is not the only option available to us to help these other fish populations recover. I received a letter the other day from my friend Kris LeBlanc of Moncton who has been fishing the Miramichi and the Cains for many years. He is concerned that too many anglers continue to view brook trout simply as pan fish and that current regulations are far too permissive on the retention of them – especially the larger ones that are in most cases sea-run brook trout. I’m going to paste in Kris’s letter to The Honorable Mike Holland PC below along with Mike Holland’s e-mail address for you to send in your own comments. Here is that e-mail address: Mike.Holland@gnb.ca
I’m going to send in a letter similar to Kris’s, but am going to add my special concern that all brook trout larger than 12 inches taken on the Miramichi system and tributaries should be released. Many of these are sea run fish, and they are simply too valuable as spawning stock, and for providing other anglers with fishing opportunities, to be killed.
Here is Kris’s letter:
April 4th, 2020
Honorable Mike Holland,
Minister of Department of Energy and Resource Development
I am writing today in regards to my concerns around the April 15th opening of the recreational sport fishery in New Brunswick.
As an avid salmon and trout fisherman for over 40 years, I am truly looking forward to choosing a fly rod and heading out to the mighty Miramichi to enjoy some much needed time on the water. Along with many like-minded outdoors people, I am overjoyed by the fact that you and the rest of our government have made the decision to move forward with the opening of our season. Thank you for advocating for us Minister Holland. In speaking with a number of people, we realize this privilege can, and will be revoked if people do not adhere to government directives. This only makes sense…
My concern is the following: With the ever growing number of individuals unfortunately out of work and looking for ways to pass time, I anticipate a larger than usual number of fishermen and fisherwomen in our brooks, rivers and lakes. Please note that an anticipated increase in fishing pressure is purely my opinion and I admit to having no evidence or data to back up that assumption. It is solely based on the fact that thousands of people now have much more time on their hands.
Fortunately, sound conservation measures around Atlantic salmon have already been implemented and recreational fishermen and fisherwomen cannot retain this species. However, given the Covid-19 circumstances, I believe our brook trout population is in grave danger and I am truly concerned about their retention limits. If we see an increase in fishing pressure and nothing is done to reduce the number of retained fish, I believe our brook trout population could be negatively impacted. Limits of Five and 10 trout is a relatively small number. However, if multiple people retain 5 or 10 trout multiple times per week, our trout population could be compromised in a matter of months. As you’re already aware, once that damage is done, it is extremely difficult to repair. The demise of the once abundant runs of Atlantic salmon is a great example of a decline that is very challenging to mitigate. We are extremely fortunate that our brook trout population is not yet in this situation. Minister Holland, you are now faced with an opportunity to make substantial changes to our regulations in order to protect our native brook trout. I would encourage you and your ministry to act before it is too late. Because of Covid-19, I am convinced the fishing population will more than ever support retention limit modifications. The time is now Mr. minister.
I respectfully ask that you look at reducing the retention limit of brook trout for the 2020 season. Ideally, I, and many others, would like to see a 100% live release trout fishery for this upcoming season. Minister Holland, as our minister of Department of Energy and Resource Development, you are now faced with an opportunity to leave your legacy. Making this difficult decision will benefit fishermen and fisherwomen for generations to come and you will be remembered as the pivotal individual who had the courage to make this difficult, but right decision. If we look back at our province’s history, the politicians who made the most difficult decisions are the ones we remember most today. I think we can both agree that Louis J Robichaud’s decisions were likely not always the easy ones to make…
If you would like to discuss this matter further, I would be very happy to speak with you at your convenience.
135 Portage st,
CC. Megan Mitton
MLA Memramcook, Tantramar