Volunteer Alewife Count Instructions

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Access to the site is along George Wright Road.

To get there: From the Woolwich Town Office, turn left and travel to the stop sign at the bottom of the hill.  Turn to your right onto George Wright Road, and about 100ft. down the road, before a hill, you will see a dirt road with a gate on your left.  The fish ladder is located a short way down this road.

If you are counting on an alewife harvest day (Thursday – Sunday) park along George Wright Road or at the head of the dirt road and walk down to the ladder. PLEASE don’t block the road, or drive down. This is reserved for the harvest crew and bait buyers.

If you are counting on a day when alewives are not harvested (Monday – Wednesday), you can drive down to the dam to park.

The equipment you need to count is inside the red fish house.


  1. Collect the plastic tub (clear with a green lid) of counting gear from the fish house, the larger red building on the water. It should be inside, against the wall to your left. Carry the tub to the top of the dam.

     (A copy of the counting instructions is in the bin.)

  2. 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.
  3. Take air temperature (F) using the blue thermometer attached to upper rail of the fence, then take water temperature in Nequasset Lake using the white thermometer attached to the lower rail of the fence.

    count location 1 small
    Count Fish Here As They Enter the Lake
  4. Using the data sheet provided (waterproof paper), write down the water temperature (F), air temperature (F), weather code, and any brief comments about the weather or predators (such as seagulls, seals, etc.). See the observation section for more comment suggestions.
  5. Find a comfortable position with a good view of the final v-notch weir, just before the dam meets the lake.
  6. Check your watch, write down the times you start and end your 10 minute count (e.g. 14:17-14:27 or 14:55-15:05).
  7. Hold the clicker, set the timer for 10 minutes, and…. each time a fish passes over the final v-notch weir and enters all the way into the still water of Nequasset Lake, click!
    • Please don’t count any fish that are exiting the lake (mentioning them is a great comment!)
  8. Record your data on the data sheet.
  9. If you don’t see any fish during a 10-minute counting period, write down 0 fish. This is important data!
  10. Leave your completed data sheet and other equipment in the plastic tub, and return it 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 (442-8400).


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, alewife harvester, is often at the fish house and can help.


Nequasset Fish Ladder Restoration

2017 Nequasset Alewife Count

Volunteer Sign-Up Calendar