May 18, 2015: Test flows from the Turners Falls Dam into the Dead Reach of the Connecticut continued today at 6,300 cubic feet per second–the highest flows in these tests. Flows will drop to 4,400 cfs on Tuesday, and run through Thursday at that rate. On Friday they again are tamped back at the dam to the lowest test flow rate, 2,500 cfs.

A stop at the Rock Dam Pool at 12:30 this afternoon found shad still being landed in easy order. Three people were fishing–two in hip waders and one in jeans standing on the ledge above the Rock Dam flow. In fifteen minutes the hip-wader guys landed two and lost one at the waterline, while the angler on the ledge had no luck.

Heading upstream, there were just two people at the base of the Turners Falls Dam at 1 p.m. I crossed the deck of the bridge to see what was up and the one guy with a pole was reeling in a shad, while his buddy was fetching the hoop net. They brought that one in, released it, and the guy tossing in shad darts soon had another hooked. It slipped off as it was brought toward shore. I only stayed for ten minutes, then tucked in under the bridge along the bike path.

AGAIN, something rarely noted during shad migration season–the headgates and flow into the canal at Turners Falls Dam were quiet as the proverbial kitten. There was just a few feet of bubbling water near the Spillway Ladder entrance on the far side of the canal, and perhaps 20 feet of bubbling flow coming out of the entrance to the gatehouse fish ladder on the opposite side of the canal.

Normally, flows here are bubbling and roiling along for a few hundred feet downstream of open head gates on the canal, with quick-water moving through the curve going toward Cabot Station. Today, water there was moving at no more than a s l o w walk… Changing canal headgate positions effect fish passage at Turners Falls.

SPEAKING of fish passage. The USFWS’s Fish Passage Hot-line has not been updated since last June. It is possible to get fish passage numbers via the Connecticut River Coordinator’s web-site.

Here are some of the numbers compiled there, reflecting fish counts at Holyoke as of Sunday, May 17, 2015:

American shad: 241,000 for the season.
Sea lamprey: 8,500
hybrid Atlantic salmon: 3

Holyoke lifted some 5,779 shad on Saturday; that number nearly doubled to 11,605 on Sunday.

Turners Falls, as of Friday, reported passing 10,292 for the season. Updates at TF are irregular.

NOTE: sea lamprey are native migrants–parasitic while in the ocean, but not feeding at all as they migrate up the Connecticut to spawn, then die. They add significant ocean minerals and nutrients to the upstream ecosystem and are an important species in this bio-system. Lampreys were a source of food in some local towns during colonial times.