ABBOT, Maine — Aside from the fact that watching thousands of fish come gushing out of a tube and landing in a river is just plain cool, Wednesday’s uncommon stocking effort on the Piscataquis River was one worth noticing.
These fish weren’t brook trout, which are commonly stocked in the Piscataquis to serve local anglers who catch and eat them. They were endangered Atlantic salmon. And for the first time in six years, those salmon were being stocked far above Milford, on the main stem of the Penobscot River, to aid in federal and state restoration efforts.
In all, 25,000 Atlantic salmon smolts — 6- to 7-inch-long fish that are ready to swim to the sea — were stocked at the town boat landing. Those fish will spend two to three years in the ocean before the survivors try to make their way back to the Penobscot, then the Piscataquis, to spawn.
Oliver Cox, the manager at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Green Lake National Fish Hatchery in Ellsworth, said stocking salmon that have advanced to the smolt stage, rather than the inch-long fry that are often stocked in restoration efforts, will give those fish a better chance at survival.
John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...
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