Winter has been slow to let go of much of Maine, but anglers interested in migrating fish won’t have to wait much longer. River herring, which are also referred to as alewives, have arrived in many Maine rivers, and they’ll soon be followed by striped bass and American shad. And the federally endangered Atlantic salmon, which can’t be targeted by anglers, are also arriving in Maine.
Jason Valliere, a marine resource scientist for the Maine Department of Marine Resources Division of Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat, issues a regular report of the activity at the Milford Dam fishway. He reported on Thursday that the crew there had captured its first Atlantic salmon of the year at the facility, a two sea-winter fish.
Slowing the migration a bit: Water temps in the Penobscot River are abnormally cold. Valliere said the river is running 8 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than it was on the same day a year ago — 48 degrees vs. 56 in 2018.
“We have only passed about one-third the number of River Herring (116,175) thus far,” Valliere said in the report. “Things should pick up quickly when the water warms up a little.”
But the fact that more than 100,000 alewives have been counted in the Penobscot is good news for the folks at the Maine Forest and Logging Museum, as they’ll stage Alewife Day at their Bradley property on Saturday.
The activities will run from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., and admission is free. Visitors will get to watch the fish as they work their way up a natural-looking fish ladder on their way to Chemo Pond. They can also sample smoked alewives, watch a blacksmith work and see the sawmill in operation. There will be crafts for kids and educational opportunities for all.
One final fish migration note: It might be a few weeks early for anglers in the Bangor region to get excited about the arrival of striped bass, but those willing to travel a bit farther south can find them in Maine right now.
John Kirk, a Portland attorney and avid fly fisherman, posted on Facebook earlier this week that he’d had some luck catching stripers in Scarborough.
And the striper migration map that’s a feature on the On the Water website indicates that small “schoolie” stripers have indeed made it as far as extreme southern Maine.
If you’re not familiar with that map, and you like to fish for stripers, you can find it here. Among the great features: The map recognizes that small fish migrate first, and are followed by progressively larger stripers. As of May 10, a green line on the map (showing where small “schoolies” are) stretches into Maine. Yellow indicates 30-inch fish, while brown shows where 20-pounders are swimming and red shows the migration of 30-pound monsters.
Watch: The return of alewives to this Bangor-area stream is an epic success story