Welcome friends of Atlantic salmon and DSF to another installment of your monthly Peter Gray Hatchery Report. I hope you all had a wonderful August, here in Downeast Maine the end of August has brought cooler temperatures that carry the hint of fall in the air.
2016 was a dry year. 2017 is an even drier year. We are experiencing worse drought conditions this summer than we were last year. The Narraguagus River has a USGS guage and it is currently flowing at 25 cfs (cubic feet per second). The 69 year median for this time of year is closer to 80 cfs. Fortunately the evenings have been cool and that's helped to keep the river temperatures down. This has been beneficial for the salmon in our hatchery and the river.
Despite this dry spell the "little athletes" in the Peter Gray Hatchery are doing well. As our temperatures are cooling their appetites are blossoming and they are feeding heavy. This is an important time of year as the fish are packing on the weight that will help them overwinter in the river.
We are coming up on electrofishing season. Personally this is one of my favorite times of year. Although a lot of work and effort, electrofishing (with Maine DMR) gives us snapshots in time from year to year of juvenile salmon densities throughout the East Machias watershed. This year we are planning on fishing 28 sites, including a few new sites in potential new fall parr stocking locations.
The downtown portion of the East Machias River was just electrofished yesterday and the results are promising, especially considering the lack of water we have in our rivers. In 300 seconds of shocking DSF and Maine DMR staff captured 32 large parr. This number equates to a density of
28.6 parr/unit of habitat
! To provide a frame of reference, 10 parr/unit in mainstem habitat would blow away anything ever observed with fry stocking. Also, last year the drainage wide median density was 14.9 parr/unit which was the highest observed in the East Machias River since 1984. If my memory serves me right I believe this same site last year captured 7 or 8 large parr. The hope is that we continue to see increases like this drainage wide.