Peter Gray Hatchery Update  
Hatchery Update

It brings me joy to be writing this to you as I watch rain fall from the sky. The past couple days we have received a steady rain that hopefully can start to curb the drop in water level from this spring. Any rain is better than no rain! If you remember last summer we didn't receive rain from April until the end of October...that isn't something we hope to repeat. If you ever find yourself operating a salmon hatchery you may also find yourself wishing for at least a couple cool, wet, rainy days each week! The American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said it this way: " The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."

May is a great month, full of activity. One of those important activities for the Peter Gray Parr Project is smolt trapping . As we introduced last month, this is the operation of two to eight foot diameter rotary screw traps (see pictures) that spin in the current of the river and funnel a percentage of the smolts (for more information on the Atlantic salmon life cycle click HERE ) heading to sea into holding containers that are checked each morning. The data collected from these traps provide insight into the size, health, and age structure of the out-migrating Atlantic salmon smolt population that is heading from the East Machias River (the majority of which were stocked from the Peter Gray Hatchery ) to the Atlantic Ocean.

Our trap captures to date are below and can be found HERE online along with more details on the smolt trapping operation.

Smolt Trapping 2018

Hatchery Origin Smolts (these are salmon smolts that have been stocked from the Peter Gray Hatchery !): 188

Naturally Reared Smolts (these are salmon smolts that have come from limited natural spawning and limited fry stocking): 18

Recaps (salmon smolts that were captured once in the smolt traps, taken a kilometer upriver, released and captured again. These smolts determine the capture efficiency of the smolt traps): 41

Parr (salmon that were stocked from the Peter Gray Hatchery in the section of the river the smolt traps operate): 41

The smolt captures this year didn't quite reach the 260 smolt from 2017 (the highest of the Peter Gray Parr Project ), but are still solid numbers considering the two drought summers/falls the majority of these smolts experienced. There was also a large ice-out event this winter and its affect on the smolt population was unknown until this trapping season. By the next Peter Gray Hatchery update we should have a preliminary smolt population estimate for you.

Fry Stocking

May is also when we stock our fed fry. These fed fry spent a couple months as eyed eggs in our egg trays and once they developed into alevin they were transferred into substrate incubation boxes. In the incubation boxes they develop just as they would if buried in river gravel, emerging from the top of the box when they (and the river) are ready to feed. This emergence typically occurs in the beginning of May and we start feeding the fish immediately. Since we pump unfiltered river water, they also have the advantage of feeding on macro-invertebrates (aquatic insects) that flow into the hatchery. For more information on the Atlantic salmon life cycle please click HERE .

From our Columbia Falls facility we stocked over 80,000 fry into the lower portions of the Pleasant River. If you remember from this winter we had already egg planted over 105,000 eyed eggs into the gravel of the upper Pleasant River.

On the East Machias River, as part of the Peter Gray Parr Project , we stocked a little over 10,000 fry into two small tributaries. The fry do well in these small, cold tributaries and they serve as a backup for the Peter Gray Parr Project .

The remainder of our fish are still at the Peter Gray Hatchery in East Machias and will continue to develop into little athletes until they are ready to be stocked this fall. They have swum up and out of their substrate incubation boxes and now are feeding vigorously in their black rearing tanks.

Fish Friends

May is also the time when our schools participating in the Fish Friends program stock their salmon fry into the rivers. Each classroom of students raised 200 salmon from eyed egg to fry, learning about the Atlantic salmon life cycle, habitat, and needs along the way. The youngest group of Fish Friends we've ever mentored had this article written about their adventure. Thank you to all of our participants! The Downeast Salmon Federation works with students from Prospect Harbor to Eastport.
If you would like to support DSF , please consider giving to our $60k Peter Gray Parr Project Matching Gift Challenge ! (See more info below.)

You can also support us by purchasing some DSF swag! Hats, vests, and shirts can be found HERE . Thank you to all that purchased Peter Gray Parr Project t-shirts and sweatshirts! A family picture of Peter Gray Parr Project supporters can be seen to your left! If you would like one of your own please email . Other ways to help are to become a member or buy a beautiful fly rod (see below)!

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to reach out to me at I hope this hatchery update finds you well and you enjoyed reading about the Peter Gray Parr Project . Thank you for all you have done, and continue to do, in the pursuit of Atlantic salmon restoration!

Kind Regards,

Zach Sheller 
$60k Peter Gray Parr Project
Matching Gift Challenge

DSF friend and supporter, Charlie Harriman (out smolt trapping with DSF in the photo above), has made a $60k Matching Gift Challenge for the Peter Gray Parr Project ! This means that all donations to the Project will be matched 1:1 up until we meet that $60,000 challenge. We hope that you will join Charlie in his enthusiastic efforts to help restore Atlantic salmon from the brink of extinction in Maine and get your donation doubled by giving to the Peter Gray Parr Project today!

If you believe in the importance of restoring Atlantic salmon to our U.S. rivers, then please consider making a Matching Challenge Gift to the Peter Gray Parr Project. We will be continuing our work to restore salmon to Downeast Maine and would appreciate your help! Click  HERE to donate and contact DSF Membership & Development Coordinator, Heather Andrews , with any questions about making a gift. Thank you for your support!
Thomas & Thomas Fly Rod Purchase Supports the Peter Gray Parr Project

There are a few different ways to help save wild American Atlantic salmon. One way is to purchase a Thomas & Thomas fly rod--for yourself or as a gift for someone special!

With two-handed rods seeming ubiquitous on many famous salmon and steelhead rivers, at times it seems as though single-hander’s have been forgotten. That’s not the case at T&T. The “Salmon and Steelhead Special” rods are designed to offer salmon and steelhead anglers the ultimate balance of sensitivity and fish fighting prowess. These rods are deadly accurate for dry fly work and still perfectly capable of lifting a long line off the water as you step and swing flies through the pool.

The medium fast action facilitates smooth, controlled casts, even with highly wind resistant flies. Strength in the lower sections of the rod enables good hook setting and provides the power to battle these magnificent migratory fish.

To purchase this or another gift, or to donate to this effort to restore Atlantic salmon, please visit .
If you'd like to read more on the Peter Gray Parr Project 's beginnings and future please read our  Parr Project Booklet

There is a short Parr Project video on our website  HERE.
Wild Atlantic salmon numbers in the U.S. have been at a record low, but DSF is working to bring them back. Please support our work by becoming a member  of the Downeast Salmon Federation. Together, we can restore sea-run fisheries in Maine.