You know it’s a special time year when the Alewives are headed back from the open ocean to fresh water of the Damariscotta Mills fish ladder to spawn.

If you haven’t seen the spectacle before, it’s worth a trip to the Mid-Coast to scope it out! Bring the kids and the grandparents!  Literally thousands are making the choice to go up the latter or up the waterfalls…and depending on that choice will decide whether they make it to the lake at the top where they get to spawn or if they get harvested as food and lobster bait. Keep in mind this only happens for a couple of short weeks and started a week early this year.  The lobstermen swear by them to snag some hard shells early in the season, the old timers love them for smoking, talk about making an amazing chowder.

According to damariscottamills.org "the 2020 alewife run is nearly over the fish have slowed down considerably, very few new schools of alewives are entering the fish ladder and any fish that are coming in are small. Small fish, often 3 year olds, are typical of the end of the run. These young fish, not ready to spawn for another year, seem to be practicing for the time when it’s their turn to make the dramatic trip to their natal spawning grounds.

We are now seeing big schools of run-backs, alewives that have spawned and are making the return journey to the Gulf of Maine to spend the rest of the year at sea. The run-backs tend to “school up” in the Mill Pond at the top of the fish ladder and make their descent down the Middle Stream in the early evening.

If you want to see alewives this year, come soon….and be sure to be ready for social distancing. Please wear a mask! Pathways at the fish ladder are narrow and it doesn’t take many visitors before you can’t help being closer than 6 feet apart."

Also, when you see a hand painted sign that say “smoked alewives” get some!  And if you get some time to see the action at the fish latter with your own eyes…do it! You’ll be glad you did!

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