Ice, rain, and snow o my! Winter is upon us my friends. Some single digits temps hit us earlier then usual this year and you can see the result of that in the pictures of this update. Ice and snow lined streams and rivers.

The good thing about receiving ample rain going into winter is the rivers don't freeze over as fast (or sometimes at all). This provides more habitat for our salmon friends to spread out and overwinter. We tend to observe better survival to the smolt life stage in winters where we have open flowing water. That's not to say that snow is all bad. Having a deep, slow melting snow pack in the woods going into spring can provide a steady supply of cold water to the streams and rivers into June.

Speaking of the rivers and the woods, we have found a few more redds to add to our total. The East Machias River is up to 10 redds observed. This is still a partial count due to weather and river conditions preventing us from counting certain spawning habitats. There is also the beautiful fact that these are wild animals in a wild river; they will, and do, spawn throughout the watershed in places we may or may not see. It is good to remember this as we collect data. We strive to be as accurate and thorough as possible, but Mother Nature still has her secrets.

Redds have been observed in a few places we haven't seen them before, which could potentially point to the adult salmon from the Peter Gray Parr Project returning to the areas of the watershed they were stocked 4 years ago. This is big stuff! Adult salmon returning and spawning on their own in the East Machias watershed is one of the goals of the PG Parr Project. It is important to note that one of the goals of the PG Parr Project was to stock "little athletes" (salmon from the Peter Gray Hatchery) throughout the watershed at higher densities then had been tried before, this is also referred to as drainage wide stocking.

Winter is also a time where we are busy getting our hatcheries ready for the eggs that will start arriving in January. As Paul Theroux said, "Winter is a season of recovery and preparation." We are always preparing for the coming rearing season and this year that includes getting the hatchery expansion ready to grow little athletes in 2019! Depending on a few variables we are expecting somewhere between 228,000 and 300,000 eyed eggs for our Peter Gray Hatchery.

In the Pleasant River watershed we are anticipating egg planting around 120,000 eyed eggs in the spawning shoals of the upper Pleasant River with Maine DMR. As we have since 1990, we will also be rearing fry (now using Peter Gray's substrate incubation box design since 2012) at our Pleasant River Hatchery .

This is a beautiful time of year and we wish you all nothing but the happiest of Holidays from the Peter Gray Hatchery Managers, Zach and Rachel. See you in the new year.

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