In February 2009, we received approximately 47,000 Pleasant River Atlantic salmon eggs from the Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery in East Orland. The eggs were incubated and young fish reared in our Columbia Falls hatchery facility throughout the winter months. DSF staff and volunteers are in the process of releasing them as unfed fry, juvenile fish measuring less than an inch in length, throughout the month of May.
Our stocking efforts are coordinated in collaboration with the Maine Department of Marine Resources Bureau of Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Following the exciting news in the fall of 2007 that at least five adult salmon had spawned in Eastern Little River, we have been eagerly anticipating our annual spring stocking of Pleasant River fry.
Four years previous (the amount of time it takes for a salmon develop from fry to returning adult) DSF released a small number of Pleasant River fry in Eastern Little River (a major tributary) and it appears that those fish did very well, returning at a much higher rate than the fry stocked in the other salmon rivers Downeast during that period. This gives us hope that what we are doing here at the Pleasant River Fish Hatchery might improve the return rates and we just might start seeing salmon returning in growing numbers to the Pleasant River. If all goes well, some of our salmon from this year’s release will return to the river as spawning adults in large numbers in 2013, weighing over 10 pounds.
Special thanks to this year’s hatchery volunteer, Peter Pund. Peter tended to the fish twice per week through the University of Maine Center on Aging’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program.