Kennebec Estuary Land Trust is looking for volunteers young and old to count fish in Woolwich. Angela Brewer

Kennebec Estuary Land Trust is looking for volunteers from May through early June to count the fish that successfully make it into Nequasset Lake to spawn. Children and adults can participate, no prior experience is necessary.

Each fish counter signs up for a 2-hour block and counts fish for two 10-minute periods in that block. Counting is broken into these blocks between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day of the week for the month and a half when the fish are migrating.

Last year, volunteers counted more than 16,000 fish, which the land trust estimate that 82,000 fish made it into the lake to spawn.

Although seeing alewives fight the current to enter the lake is the main event, volunteers have also had the chance to see eagles, herons, ospreys, mink, bass, and loons drawn to the ladder by the lure of an alewife meal. A visit to the fish ladder also brings the chance to see an active alewife harvest or to purchase some smoked alewives for 75 cents apiece.

Alewives are an important part of the food chain in the Gulf of Maine, both in the water and on land. They feed fish like cod and striped bass, and birds of prey depend on the alewife migration for a source of spring food. Historically and today, alewives are a valued baitfish for Maine’s lobster industry. There has been an active alewife run and sustainable harvest at Nequasset for hundreds of years. Counting helps to assess if the fish ladder is working as well as it possibly can to enable fish to make their way over Nequasset dam and enter Nequasset Lake.

Sign up for the count at kennebecestuary.org/fish-count-signup. For questions, contact Ruth Indrick at [email protected] or (207) 442-8400.

Volunteers are needed for an alewife count at Nequasset fish ladder. Kathy Gravino


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