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  • 2014 Fish Count at Nequasset Dam

    Take Part in One of the World’s Great Migrations!


    The 2014 Fish Count at Nequasset Dam will provide important information about the population and status of Nequasset alewives.  Alewives are anadromous fish that spend the majority of their lives at sea but return to freshwater to spawn. Alewives have been an important cultural and economic component of Woolwich for centuries. Because of continued careful stewardship, Nequasset is considered one of the top alewife runs in the State. The fish ladder is in disrepair and will be rebuilt in late summer 2014 to ensure access to vital spawning habitat in Nequasset Lake as part of the Nequasset Fish Ladder Reconstruction Project.

    Volunteer to Count Fish at NequassetAlewives2

    SIGN UP Here!

    The 2014 fish count is now over.  Thank you to all of the amazing volunteers!

    The fish count this year lasted from 5/5/2014 to 6/9/2014.  The results of the 2014 fish count will be posted here in late June.

    We count every day the fish are running, typically from early May to early June, 6:00 am – 8:00 pm. Select a two hour period from the 2014 signup sheet (a googledoc), then count any TWO 10 minute blocks within your two hour period -whatever works for you!

    Volunteer Instructions      _


    Park along George Wright Road or in the lot below Woolwich Town Hall. Walk through the gate and down the dirt road to the fish house. PLEASE don’t block the road, or drive down. This is reserved for the harvest crew and bait buyers. DIRECTIONS


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    1. Collect the plastic tub of counting gear from the fish house, the lower building on the water. Itshould be right inside the door. Carry tub to the top of the dam.
    2. Unlock the gate to the dam, the combination is in the counting tub.
    3. If the surface of the dam is wet it may be slippery. Please be safe and do not count. Simply record conditions on the data sheet and return materials to the fish house.
    4. Take air temperature (F) with the thermometer in the tub, then take water temperature by securing the string and dropping the thermometer into the head pond (above the dam) for at least three minutes before taking a reading.
    5. Using the data sheet provided (waterproof paper), write down the water temperature (F), air temperature (F) and any brief comments about the weather, percent cloud cover, predators (such as seagulls, seals, etc.).
    6. Find a comfortable position with a good view of the top pool, just where the dam meets the head pond.
    7. Check your watch, write down the times you start and end your count (e.g., 14:17-14:27, 14:55-15:05).
    8. Hold the clicker and…. each time a fish passes over the final baffle and enters into Nequasset Pond click!
    9. Record your data on the data sheet.
    10. If you don’t see any fish during a 10-minute counting period, write down 0 fish.  This is important data!
    11. Leave your completed data sheet and other equipment in the plastic tub, and return to the fish house


    • To avoid spooking the fish, wear dull-colored clothing, stand still and try not to cast a shadow on the stream.
    • Polarized sunglasses will help you see the fish better.
    • Hold the thermometer by the string, so you don’t change the temperature with body heat.
    • Remember to zero the counter on the clicker-counter before you start counting!
    • If there is no thermometer, if there is no counter, if you need more recording forms, or there are other problems, please call the KELT office.


    Other observations are welcome and often useful.  Examples of potentially useful observations are:

    • Other fish (e.g., American eels, etc.)
    • Estimated numbers of herring downstream or upstream of the counting site, even if they have not passed you during your count period
    • Fish behavior (e.g., schooling, milling about, heading upstream or downstream, not passing through culverts, etc.)
    • Numbers of seagulls or other predators or fishermen
    • Other observed animals
    • Water quality, color of water
    • Height of water relative to some marker
    • Juvenile fish
    • Herring returning to the sea after spawning
    • Spawning in the run or stream itself (likely to be Blueback herring rather than Alewife, which prefer to spawn in ponds)
    • Other


    Ruth Indrick, Project Coordinator at Kennebec Estuary Land Trust
    rindrick@kennebecestuary.org  442-8400

    Bill Potter, Chairman, Woolwich Fish Commission

    Steve Bodge and Herb Lilly, harvesters are often at the fish house and can help.

    Other Research                 _

    Students from Bates College took part in water testing for nutrients during the alewife run in 2013, and they will be continuing that exciting research in 2014.

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