You know who isn’t a huge fan of summer? Trout! Summer heat waves impose serious stress and can even cause death. Trout and salmon that are already heat-stressed may not recover after being caught and released.
Regional fishery folks are testing new ways of getting salmon ready for the Saranac River, a river salmon once thrived in but were blocked from 200 years ago by dams.
I explored the relationship among the river, the dams and the salmon in a series of stories last year. This spring, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation plans to stock salmon in the river, which it has done for years, but this time keep some in a pen for several weeks. In the pen, the fish, who were born in a hatchery, will be fed and cared for by Trout Unlimited. The idea is these fish will have a better chance to survive and learn the river before they leave it for Lake Champlain. That learning, called imprinting, might make it more likely for the salmon to return to the river to spawn in years to come.
Following Success of Net Pen Programs for Other Species, DEC Anticipates Increased Survival of Stocked Smolts
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced the deployment of two new pen-rearing projects for Atlantic salmon to begin this spring. To improve post-stocking survival and imprinting to the stocked water, experimental Atlantic salmon pen-rearing projects will be conducted in the Saranac River estuary in Lake Champlain and in the Salmon River in Lake Ontario. DEC is partnering with the Lake Champlain Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Plattsburgh Boat Basin on the Saranac River project and partnering with the Tug Hill/Black River Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Salmon River Lighthouse and Marina on the Salmon River project.
Despite social distancing limitations due to COVID-19 and irregular weather patterns, fall wild fish egg collection quotas have been met in the Adirondack Region.
Over the past two weeks, DEC Fisheries staff have been working to collect brook trout, landlocked Atlantic salmon, and lake trout eggs to rear in hatcheries across the region. Every fall, staff from DEC Regions 5 & 6 and associated fish hatcheries venture out to certain waters to collect fish to be used for spawning.
Live fish are collected using trap nets set along the shorelines of waterbodies known to contain the desired fish species and strains. Collection of mature fish from the wild alleviates the need to raise and hold adult fish in the hatchery system and also has some genetic benefits.
Fish are released back into the water where they were collected once eggs and milt (sperm) are obtained.
Over the summer, long before any hint of fall and far before the fall of snow, I spent a while on the phone talking about the ups and downs of the Saranac River.
The Saranac was dammed way back in the late-1700s and hasn’t been the same since. Now, a series of dams along the river cause dramatic changes in the flow and elevation of the river. Those changes, the ones that started over 200 years ago and continue to this day, upend the lives of fish and insects in the river and make it hardly the sort of wild river it at first may appear.
We’re wrapping up production of our November/December magazine issue, and we think Mike Lynch’s photography and writing in it should alert a lot of readers to recreational and environmental aspects of the Adirondacks that they hadn’t previously considered. For one thing, it seems that a lot of people who enjoy our mountains weren’t aware that they were home to salmon — either historically or right now.
Well, they are, and Mike made a number of trips to the Boquet River to see and photograph them running there. (Above is a long exposure he snapped of a landlocked Atlantic salmon cresting in the river.) Those fish, which the state has stocked but in some years will also reproduce naturally in the river, offer hope for a thriving wild salmon fishery in the park.
Right now, we’re getting down to crunch time at the AdirondackExplorer, wrapping up many of our writing and photo assignments for the November issue.
We’ve got a lot of interesting news and recreational features lined up for this issue, including ones about Boquet and the Saranac rivers and how they’ve been impacted by dams. Atlantic salmon, in particular, have historically seen their spawning grounds cut off by the dams. Not only in the Adirondack region, but on the west, too.
The Champlain Basin Education Initiative has announced a free International Year of the Salmon Workshop for K-12 teachers, set for Saturday, January 25, 2020 in Grand Isle, Vermont.
Teachers will work with a fisheries biologist to learn about salmon life cycle, habitat needs, and restoration efforts in the Champlain watershed, with a Trout Unlimited angler to learn about Salmon and Trout in the classroom programs, and have a chance to dissect fish as well. The history of salmon and their importance as a food source to early inhabitants of the Champlain Valley will also be featured. » Continue Reading.
The Whallonsburg Grange Lyceum has announced “Beneath the Surface: Salmon in the Boquet River,” a program on the return of landlocked Atlantic salmon to the Boquet River, set for Tuesday, October 15th, at 7:30 pm. This program is part of the Grange’s fall series “Hidden in Plain Sight.” » Continue Reading.
The 2019 Salmon Festival has been set for Saturday, October 5th, at multiple locations in Richmond, Vermont. Family friendly, salmon based events will take place throughout the community from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. » Continue Reading.
The Ticonderoga Historical Society has opened the exhibit “Salmon and People,” set to run through June 21, with a free public program on Friday, June 21 at the Hancock House, 6 Moses Circle, Ticonderoga. Provided by the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership, the exhibit celebrates 2019 as the “International Year of the Salmon.” » Continue Reading.
This spring, trout and trout anglers have benefited from abundant rainfall and cool weather conditions that promote the growth and survival of trout and salmon. However, with the forecast for high temperatures this weekend through next week, it is important to remember that trout and salmon are coldwater sportfish that can experience serious physical stress whenever water temperatures climb above 70° Fahrenheit. Heat stressed fish often seek pockets of cold water created by upwelling groundwater, small feeder streams, or water released from deep reservoirs. These refuges allow trout to avoid or recover from potentially fatal levels of heat stress. » Continue Reading.
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