November 2017 Peter Gray Hatchery Update

My friends, first let me apologize for my delay in getting this report out to you. The past month and a half has been a whirlwind of salmon activity. I was thinking we would give you a report on October’s activities and November’s to this point. You can expect another Hatchery Report that will cover mid-November thru December sometime before the Christmas holiday.

Fall Parr Stocking at the Peter Gray HatcheryOctober has to be one of the busiest months for the Peter Gray Project. That’s because it is filled with marking every single fish with an adipose fin clip and stocking our “little athletes” into the river!

As you remember from previous hatchery reports, Downeast Maine had quite a drought for the second summer in a row. Water levels were extremely low and the temperature stayed warm late into the fall. The combination of these two things delayed the start of fin clipping by a week. However, in the beginning of October we received some cold evenings and we were able to start clipping. Thanks to help from hundreds of local students, community members, and partners of the Peter Gray Parr Project volunteering hundreds of hours of time, we clipped just over 200,000 Atlantic salmon in about two and a half weeks. A thank you also to our small dedicated crew of fin clip employees.

For those that are new, we clip the adipose fin off each one of our fish. The goal of this activity is to distinguish salmon stocked from the Peter Gray Hatchery from wild salmon in the river during future assessment (electrofishing and smolt trapping). This allows us to know the precise impact our unique rearing and stocking strategies have on the total salmon population for the East Machias River.

During those weeks of fin clipping we still didn’t receive any rain. Our pre-stocking scouting revealed record low tributaries and little water to stock fish. Then, thankfully, the heavens opened up and we received a couple rainstorms of a few inches each within a week or so of each other. We went from no water to plenty of water to stock the fish!

We had some help from the University of Maine at Machias, Washington Academy, our intern Ally, the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and some other volunteers to release our salmon throughout the East Machias River watershed. The US Fish and Wildlife Service at the Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery also lent us a couple stocking trucks as they do every year. We couldn’t complete this culminating step of the Project without all that help.

The last “little athlete” reared at the Peter Gray Hatchery in 2017 was stocked on November 3rd. Now they can live in the wild and hopefully we’ll see them over the next three years as smolt and eventually returning as adults.

After stocking was completed we started redd counting. This is where we walk or stand up in a canoe and pole down the spawning shoals of the river looking for redds the adult female salmon have made. This number helps generate the estimate for adult returns to the East Machias River.

So far this year we have counted 3 redds in the Northern Stream and 1 redd in the main-stem of the river. We will continue to redd count through November until the rivers ice in. Stay tuned!


Kind Regards,

Zach Sheller
Hatchery Manager

Peter Gray Hatchery Expansion Update


That’s not your eyes playing tricks on you, that’s the walls of our hatchery expansion going up! This is good news and our contractors are on a mission to get this building up and weather tight before snow flies.

“Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.” -Paul Theroux

As I’ve mentioned in previous reports, 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 below.

About Fin Clipping

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.

About Electrofishing & Smolt Trapping

Electrofishing surveys allow biologists to get an idea of the survival rate of the fish stocked into the East Machias River from the Peter Gray Hatchery and to check in on these young salmon while they are still in fresh water.

Spring smolt trapping surveys allow biologists to determine the size of the population of salmon leaving the East Machias River on their way to the ocean as smolt. Because fish stocked from the Peter Gray Hatchery are marked, the number of smolt leaving the river can be estimated.

Want to Volunteer?

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

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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