Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Alewife Report: May 4, 2015

It's not too late!  Go to their website to sign up!
Where there's a will, there's a way.  That's the take home from the Nequasset fish ladder in Woolwich. I'm signed up to count fish coming over the ladder for the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, which manages the ladder along with a bunch of other organizations.  Just like last year, the first week of counting was cancelled due to cold water.  Alewives won't just climb ladders at any old temperature; they're quite specific about their preferences.  From years of research, we know these tenacious little fish are rather fond of 55 degrees, and we were expecting them to hold off until the water in Nequasset Lake got a little balmier than it is just now (it's around 50 now).

But some of our little friends decided they've waited long enough.  After reports last week that the fish were schooling at the mouth of the Kennebec, I took a look at the Google Doc we use to sign up (which it's not too late to do!) and lo and behold, the fish are starting to run.  Go fish, go!

So off Dory and I went, ready to count up a storm of alewives.  There were fish in the ladder, but sadly, none came over the final rung while I was counting.  But it was great to get out there and take a look at the renovated ladder.  Very fancy, and hopefully easier for the fish to get up (that's why we're counting, to see how well the renovation worked).

I'm expecting next week will see the ladder overrun with fish, but 'til then, here's what it looked like:

The ladder from above . . . 
. . .  and below.  Notice the gulls in both these photos, waiting for an easy meal!
Where they fish; the A-frame is for lifting nets of fish.
The net.
Fish scales on the sides of the box; probably decades' worth.
 This is what the fishing area looks like:

A fish in the fishing area, who knows how it got in since that area is closed off right now:

And here are the fish coming up the chutes:

Dory, being a Very Brave Science Dog:

Interested in alewives?  This is one of the GREAT migrations of the world -- right here in Maine. Get out there and check it out.  Here are 3 great places to see the run -- do it in the next few weeks!

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