The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has closed the river between the Greenfield bridge and Highway 103 bridge to all angling until Aug. 15.
Greg Stevens, a senior advisor with DFO, says the move came after complaints of anglers hooking and releasing salmon under the guise of a trout license. The river is currently closed to all salmon fishing.
That section of the river was closed because the salmon are at their most vulnerable when they are travelling to the lakes. This section of the river also has a number of salmon pools. After mid August, the salmon have mostly moved on to the lakes.
The department did not come to this decision lightly, says Stevens. They consulted with the province as well as the Queens County Fish and Game Society and the Medway River Salmon Association. Both groups have given their support for the closure.
“The intent is to minimize the impact on legitimate angling, and target the behaviour that’s outside the law,” he says.
Bill Wolfe, Conservation and Protection Supervisor for the local DFO detachment, says they’ll be stepping up both their education program and patrols along the river while the closure is in effect.
So far they have put up posters advising of the closure up and down the river, and spreading the word about why. He adds they were already doing a fair number of patrols, but will be adding more.
“If we’re going to close the river, we’re going to need to be able to enforce those closures,” he says.
Wolfe believes the closure will have little impact on other legitimate anglers, such as the Trout and Bass fishers. Trout angling is typically best from April 1 to mid June, while bass is late summer and into the fall and takes place on the lakes.
“In our experience, this time of year most people that are angling on the river under the guise of a trout license generally are trying to raise salmon,” he says. “I really believe we are not displacing any trout fisherman by closing that section of the river.”
The Medway River Salmon Association says that no one takes the closure of a river lightly, and it is basically a last resort action. They add a closure should act as a wake up call to all anglers.
The river has had a complete moratorium on salmon fishing since 1996, and Medway River salmon were recommended to be put on the “endangered status” list.