Penobscot salmon count reaches 84

Maybe next week.

Or the week after that.

Seems like we’ve been saying those words for quite awhile now, doesn’t it? And here we are (again), waiting for the annual run of Atlantic salmon on the Penobscot River to (finally) kick into high gear.

According to Mitch Simpson, a fisheries biologist for the Maine Department of Marine Resources’ Bureau of Sea-Run Fisheries and Habitat, a total of 84 salmon had returned to the Veazie Dam fish trap as of Wednesday.

In comparison, a year ago 406 salmon had returned to the Penobscot by June 5. You have to go back to 2005 to find a year in which fewer fish (36) had returned by the same date. Last year’s total return wound up as the second-lowest since trapping began in 1978.

And while it pays to be careful when you start playing with statistics and predicting trends (which I won’t do here), by June 5 of last year 65 percent of the salmon that would eventually return had already done so by June 5. A big difference exists between this year and last, however: In 2012 we had a very early thaw, with temperatures reaching the 80s in March and the weather remaining mild through May.

On the bright side, Simpson reported that 39 fish had returned in just a week — not an enormous run, but an improvement over the season’s particularly slow start.

Among the other highlights of Simpson’s weekly report: A total of 12,498 river herring have been trapped in Veazie (compared to just 47 a year ago), which reflects well on alewife stocking efforts of the past few years. Biologists have also caught 2,566 sea lamprey, 222 white suckers, 115 smallmouth bass, 2 brook trout and a landlocked salmon.

Maybe next week.



John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.