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Peter Gray Hatchery Report
April 2017

Hello again my fellow friends of salmon and theParr Project. April is a busy time in the salmon world – although come to think of it, there aren’t many months that aren’t busy in the world of raising salmon. Alevin are developing while buried in river gravel, the last of the ice packs leave our lakes and ponds, and the smolt start to migrate out of the rivers and into the ocean. As I write this report the temperatures on our rivers hover around 10 degrees Celsius, which is the temperature range that cues smolts to migrate and alevin to emerge from their redds, or in the case of our hatcheries – their incubation boxes. Typically our salmon will emerge from their boxes in early to mid-May. We currently have around 350,000 Atlantic salmon at the Peter Gray Hatchery and 62,000 salmon at our Pleasant River Hatchery.

The 2017 smolt trapping season officially began on April 18th when we deployed our two 8 foot rotary screw traps. Smolts are salmon that have spent a couple years in the river and now are making the transition to live and grow in the open ocean. The traps have a cone that is lowered into the water column, causing the cone to spin. Fish enter the wide part of the cone and are funneled down the cone and into the live car.

These traps are tended every morning and the species and numbers of fish are recorded. Any salmon smolts that are captured have their lengths, weights, genetic tissue, and scales taken. This data allows DSF staff and DMR scientists to assess the health, age, and population size of the Atlantic salmon smolts leaving the East Machias River. Stay tuned for more updates on the East Machias River smolt population!

Smolt Captures To Date (as of 5/2/17)
  • 24 hatchery origin smolts – These are smolts that came from the Peter Gray Hatchery. Our first hatchery origin smolt was captured after the first night of smolt trap operation (4/19/17).
  • 3 wild origin smolts – These are smolts resulting from natural spawning or limited amounts of fry stocking.
  • 7 recaps – We use a mark-recapture method that helps determine the capture efficiency of our smolt traps. These 7 salmon are fish that were captured, worked up, released above the trap, and recaptured.
  • These are encouraging smolt numbers for the Parr Project, especially considering it is the beginning of the trapping season.

If you would like to read more about the smolt trapping operation or keep up with daily trap counts please visit the smolt trapping page of our website.

Building Expansion

Expanding our hatchery capacity at our East Machias Facility is moving along. This expansion will provide more space for the Parr Project to continue to thrive. We have cut through the cement slab of our current building to install the pipe that will carry the waste water from our hatchery expansion to our drum filter for treatment.

We have moved our electric pole, our oxygen source, and in the next couple days our generator and propane will be temporarily relocated. Trees have been cleared, the site cleaned up to clear space for construction, so foundation work can begin. Digging should begin in a week or so with concrete soon to follow.

Funders have generously donated to get us started, but we are continuing to raise funds for this project to ensure it is completed this year.

All of this is very positive for the Parr Project moving forward! As always, if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me [email protected].

I hope this report finds you well and you enjoyed reading about the Parr Project. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do in the pursuit of Atlantic salmon restoration!


Zach Sheller

Downeast Salmon Federation
Hatchery Manager

If you’d like to read more on the Parr Project’s beginnings and future please read our Parr Project Booklet.
There is a short Parr Project video on our website HERE.


If you believe in the importance of restoring Atlantic salmon to our U.S. rivers, then please consider making a gift to the Parr Project for 2017. We will be continuing our work to restore salmon to downeast Maine and would appreciate your help! Click HERE.

Leave a Legacy by Making a Planned Gift to DSF

A planned gift to Downeast Salmon Federation is a wonderful way to contribute to the health of our rivers and fisheries for future generations while also meeting your financial goals. You can create a legacy gift that will help DSF continue to improve river ecology, restore Atlantic salmon populations, increase fish passage, run educational programs, and much more. Click on the link below for more information about planned giving.
Planned Giving

Wild Atlantic salmon numbers in the U.S. have been at a record low, but DSF is working to bring them back. Please support our work by becoming a member of the Downeast Salmon Federation. Together, we can restore sea-run fisheries in Maine.

Downeast Salmon Federation