Hello my fellow fin-flipping, salmon loving friends. I write to you today looking out at the sunny, yet still cool, sky. But as comedian Steve Martin says, "
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night."
Spring has been slow in coming, with nights still dropping below freezing here in Washington county. River temperatures are right around the 8 Celsius (46 Fahrenheit) mark and I'll try to remember these nice, cool temperatures as we move into the heat of the summer.
With the coming spring, we have started our 2019 smolt trapping season and welcomed two new hires to help us this rearing season. Victoria and Ryan started this week and we are looking forward to a productive and successful 2019 season for the
Peter Gray Parr Project
. I'm sure you'll run into them this summer if you come in to check out the fish and facility.
Smolt trapping is an exciting time of year where we partner with the Jonesboro office of the Maine Department of Marine Resources to assess the condition of, and estimate the number of smolts headed to sea.
are juvenile salmon that have lived in river for a couple years and are making the transition to live in salt water. They will spend a couple years in the ocean before returning as adults to spawn.
In the smolt traps we catch a wide array of fish species. Everything from the migratory American eel to the invasive resident large/small mouth bass and of course Atlantic salmon. Since every salmon that is stocked from the
Peter Gray Hatchery
we can distinguish between fish that came from our hatchery and wild (naturally-reared) fish. Wild fish are the result of limited fry stocking and natural reproduction that occurs in the river. Since we are now in our eighth year of the
Peter Gray Parr Project
, the observed spawning is the result of parr we stocked years ago. Recaptures are smolts that we have caught, marked, moved upstream, and captured again. This mark-recapture study gives us the capture efficiency of the smolt traps. This is an important metric in determining this year's population estimate.
The next few hatchery updates will have a smolt trap update and we update catch data almost daily on our website here:
smolt trap count
2019 Smolt Trapping
New smolt captures: 4
Peter Gray Hatchery Origin: 3
Wild (or naturally reared) Origin: 1
In salmon restoration it can sometimes feel like it takes forever to see the results of our efforts. For example it takes anywhere from 8-32 months after we put a parr in the river to see them headed to sea and another couple years to get them back as adults. It is important to remind ourselves that every effort is making a difference and the East Machias River is a much better salmon river than it was just eight years ago. Abraham Lincoln, a man many of you may have heard about, said it this way: "
I am a slow walker, but I never walk back."
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