Wild Atlantic salmon are again spawning in Connecticut after a 250 year hiatus.
This is a conservation success story if ever there was one. The last time wild Atlantic salmon spawned in Connecticut, General George Washington was leading the continental army against the Red Coats. But, they’re back now, though in small numbers.
According to Fishing Northeast, the Connecticut Department of Inland Fisheries discovered three redds (think fish nest) in November. Three adult fish were captured and tagged, and then resumed their journey upstream. Two more fish were caught on surveillance cameras, and also continued their upstream voyage.
From 1967 to 2013, Connecticut took part in a restoration program that captured and retained wild adult Atlantic salmon to harvest their eggs. The eggs were used to raise juveniles, which were then stocked into the Connecticut River watershed, reports Fishing Northeast.
The restoration program ended in 2013, and the Department of Inland Fisheries switched to a legacy program. Adults are captured and tagged, and allowed to continue upstream to spawn. In addition, fewer fry are stocked back into the streams.
Although just five wild Atlantic salmon showed up in November, the presence of three redds is proof that they successfully spawned. And this is a huge step in the right direction. Hopefully, we can get back to the Atlantic salmon runs in Connecticut that George Washington may have witnessed.