Uneventful ’09

Chalk it up as another disappointing year on the Connecticut River
anadromous-fish front.
With the Holyoke fish-lift closed for the 2009 season, a total of 76 Atlantic
salmon and 162,067 American shad were counted in the river. Add to that
the fact that blueback herring have virtually disappeared and it’s
starting to look very bleak. This year the herring total was 39. Is it really
worth counting anymore?
Sixty of the 76 salmon were captured in Holyoke. A breakdown of the
other 16 captured fish shows two taken at the Leesville Dam
on Connecticut’s Salmon River, 12 at the Rainbow Dam on Connecticut’s
Farmington River, and two at the Springfield Project on our Westfield
River. A straggler of two could still show up, but so what? The run’s
over. Why spin?
Ten free-swimmers were left in the river system above Holyoke, nine of
them were tagged for monitoring purposes, and seven are known to be residing
above Vernon, Vt. That leaves 66 at the Cronin National Salmon Station in Sunderland, where survivors will be nursed to optimal health for artificial fall spawning. The progeny from that spawning will ultimately be released into small streams in the Connecticut River system with little chance of ever reaching saltwater, never mind returning as adults to spawn in three to five years. Meanwhile, devoted Eastern Brook Trout anglers continue to carp about immature salmon competing with the native trout in their favorite
streams for a finite natural-food supply. They also complain about the
voracious little salmon disrupting their fishing experience by taking
their bait and alerting native brookies of their presence.
Friends of Atlantic-salmon restoration here in the Happy Valley
are dwindling with the salmon, shad and herring. Sad but true;
inevitable when numbers lay it out in bold black and white.
I guess the question is: Are a few better than none? Although I lean in
that direction, I would guess I’m in the minority.

The prevailing attitude has changed dramatically over the last decade.

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