For three decades state and federal officials tried to lure Atlantic salmon back into the Merrimack River without success, until they gave up in 2014.

They haven’t given up in Maine, and now comes news of a record spawning season in one of the major watersheds, in Washington County. (Story is here)

In one smallish river, the East Macdhias, they counted 62 “redds” or beds, each containing about 4,000 eggs. “The 61 redds are carrying about 240,000 eggs — enough, given the rigors of nature and the presence of predators, to produce about 2,000 salmon that will survive in the river over the next two years and become smolts, fish mature enough to go to sea.”

Salmon face huge obstacles in the ocean, which is getting more acidic and warmer, which moves their food stocks. But maybe we can keep them around for a while longer.

New Hampshire is concentrating on less sexy fish who live in both fresh and salt water. As I put in a 2018 story: “Salmon are never coming back to the Merrimack River. But don’t despair, you fans of fish with weird life cycles: Herring are doing so well that we might be seeing them in Concord again. Shad aren’t doing too badly, either. And American eels, which can grow to an alarming 3 feet long, are still around despite the fact that they do the whole live-in-both-ocean-and-river thing backwards. “

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