August 2017 Peter Gray Hatchery Update

I hope you all had a wonderful August. Here in Downeast Maine the end of August has brought cooler temperatures that carry the hint of fall in the air.

2016 was a dry year. 2017 is an even drier year. We are experiencing worse drought conditions this summer than we were last year. The Narraguagus River has a USGS gauge and it is currently flowing at 25 cfs (cubic feet per second). The 69 year median for this time of year is closer to 80 cfs. Fortunately the evenings have been cool and that’s helped to keep the river temperatures down. This has been beneficial for the salmon in our hatchery and the river.

Despite this dry spell the “little athletes” in the Peter Gray Hatchery are doing well. As our temperatures are cooling their appetites are blossoming and they are feeding heavy. This is an important time of year as the fish are packing on the weight that will help them overwinter in the river.

We are coming up on electrofishing season. Personally this is one of my favorite times of year. Although a lot of work and effort, electrofishing (with Maine DMR) gives us snapshots in time from year to year of juvenile salmon densities throughout the East Machias watershed. This year we are planning on fishing 28 sites, including a few new sites in potential new fall parr stocking locations.

The downtown portion of the East Machias River was just electrofished yesterday and the results are promising, especially considering the lack of water we have in our rivers. In 300 seconds of shocking we captured 32 large parr. This number equates to a density of 28.6 parr/unit of habitat ! To provide a frame of reference, 10 parr/unit in mainstem habitat would blow away anything ever observed with fry stocking. Also, last year the drainage wide median density was 14.9 parr/unit which was the highest observed in the East Machias River since 1984. If my memory serves me right I believe this same site last year captured 7 or 8 large parr. The hope is that we continue to see increases like this drainage wide.


Kind Regards,

Zach Sheller
Hatchery Manager

Peter Gray Hatchery Expansion Update


“Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still.” Chinese proverb.

This proverb seems appropriate for our hatchery expansion. Even though we would all love to look out and see the expansion complete, we aren’t quite there yet. We are however moving forward a step at a time and we’ll be there before we know it!

In the above you will see what looks like a cement walkway. That walkway is actually the floor of what will be our drain trench for the hatchery expansion. Overall we are making progress!

This expansion will allow the salmon growing in the Peter Gray Hatchery to be spread out into more tanks. Decreasing the densities in each tank will help lower the stress of the salmon and give them an even better environment to develop into the “little athletes” that will survive in the East Machias River, and later, the Atlantic Ocean. Lean, mean swimming machines!

Funders have generously donated to get us started, but we are continuing to raise funds for the expansion project to ensure it is completed this year. If you would like to contribute to this very important Project please scroll down to the donation section.

Special Event a Huge Success

We had a great celebration event on August 3rd. We had over 100 people come to tour the facility, talk salmon, and look to the future of what is possible with salmon restoration in Downeast Maine. We were privileged to have some wonderful speakers, we put faces with names, and we also enjoyed a locally brewed beer – Atlantic Salmon Ale. Thank you to all that helped make this event a success.

It’s Almost Fin Clipping Time

Each fall, we begin our fin clipping effort to mark over 200,000 juvenile Atlantic salmon with an adipose fin clip. We rely on volunteers to help. Fin clipping takes place at the Peter Gray Hatchery at 13 Willow St. in East Machias and is part of an on-going project to restore the Atlantic salmon population in the East Machias River. Fin clipping typically continues for three weeks after the start date.

All juvenile salmon grown at the hatchery are marked with a fin clip prior to stocking to identify them as fish originating from the Peter Gray Hatchery during follow up electrofishing and smolt trapping surveys.

If you’d like to volunteer for this important part of the project, please contact Zach at, or call (207) 255-0676.

Learn more about the Peter Gray Parr Project

Read More Peter Gray Parr Project Updates

Help us Restore Maine's Wild Atlantic Salmon Population

$1 per parr. Restore one or restore thousands. All donations will make a difference!

The goal of the Peter Gray Parr Project is to increase the number of parr raised and stocked to over 2,000,000. At an estimated cost of just over $1 per parr, we must raise 2.2 million dollars to support this restoration. For every dollar donated, contributors will quite literally be putting more parr in the East Machias River and directly impacting the restoration of Maine's wild Atlantic salmon population.


Restore over 2,000,000 Wild Atlantic Salmon Parr to the East Machias River.


Financial progress towards restoring over 2,000,000 Wild Atlantic Salmon Parr into the East Machias River

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