Fishways have opened up hundreds of miles of river to migratory fish in the Connecticut River watershed! We know this because we count the number of fish passing through these structures. Knowing how many fish and what species use these fishways helps us make decisions on how to best restore our migratory fishes.

  • The Leesville Dam on the Salmon River in Connecticut is monitored only for Atlantic salmon. The Salmon River joins the Connecticut River 18 miles upstream of the Long Island Sound.
  • The Rainbow Dam in Connecticut is the first dam on the Farmington River, and is located 8 miles upstream of where the Farmington River joins the Connecticut River. The Farmington River joins the Connecticut River about 57 miles upstream of Long Island Sound.
  • The West Springfield dam (formerly called the DSI Dam) in Massachusetts is the first dam on the Westfield River, and is located 4 miles upstream of where the river joins the Connecticut River. Westfield River joins the Connecticut River 75 miles upstream of the Long Island Sound.
  • The Holyoke Dam in Massachusetts is the first dam on the mainstem of the Connecticut River, and is 87 miles upstream of the Long Island Sound.
  • The Turners Falls Dam fish ladder in Massachusetts is 122 miles upstream of the Long Island Sound; The Vernon Dam fish ladder is located in Vermont, 142 miles upstream of the Long Island Sound.
  • The Bellows Falls Dam fish ladder is located in Vermont, 174 miles upstream of the Long Island Sound.

Connecticut River Basin Fishway Passage Counts

Report Date: 05/17/2024

Fishway, River -
Data as ofAmerican shadAlewifeBlueback herringAtlantic salmonAmerican eelSea lampreyStriped bassGizzard shadShortnose sturgeonOther/ comment
Rogers Lake-CT5/1 11,505       Mary Steube passed
Mary Steube, Mill-CT


5/1 26,138        
Mill Pond, Falls-CT (NEW Fishway)5/1 74       alewife observed
Moulson Pond, Eightmile-CTopen         bluebacks observed
Leesville, Salmon-CTno counts         bluebacks observed
StanChem, Mattabesset-CTopen         very few river herring seen
*Rainbow, Farmington-CTclosed         will not be operated
W. Springfield, Westfield-MA5/142,049    1,500   539 white suckers
Holyoke, Connecticut-MA5/16150,590 15 92,4251123  
Easthampton, Manhan-MAopen         operated in season
**Turners Falls-Gatehouse, Connecticut-MA5/81,491        shad passing and a few lamprey
Vernon, Connecticut-VTopen          
Bellows Falls, Connecticut-VTyet to open          

Total to basin, only first barrier counts

Last year totals (2023) 279,8408,0262,228011,039***22,6811166064 

* CTDEEP will not operate the Rainbow Fish Ladder due its documented poor performance and the lack of suitable downstream fish passage protection measures at the Stanley Works owned dam/project. Fish passage at this project has been the responsibility of the CTDEEP, due to FERC legal rulings and timing of that facilities construction. 

** Spillway Fish Ladder - ; Cabot Station Ladder, base of canal, . Note that at Turners Falls Project (Dam/Canal) fish must use one of these two fishways first before having the opportunity to pass the final required ladder (Gatehouse).

*** Total collected from 3 eel ramp/traps at Holyoke in 2023

Since the last report, Sierra at Holyoke reports the following daily American Shad passage counts; 5/10 (6,087), 5/11 (6,217), 5/12 (3,951), 5/13 (6,771), 5/14 (23,152), 5/15 (48,304) and 5/16 (7,818). The long-term passage data at Holyoke shows - on average - ~25% of the run has passed by this date (since 1976). As we all know, shifts in run timing (from climate change) is occurring for many species and is the subject of pending research publications that I hope to share in the future. Main stem river discharge and many of the lower basin tributaries are within a normal (higher) range with water temperatures also seasonal for favorable environmental conditions. Our FWS river herring assessment work by Corey and team had similar catch per effort rates this week. I was at Weth Cove yesterday and was the same case - approximately 25% the catch rates for this time of run vs long-term average, we still obtained 80 fish for lab processing today. Tim Wildman (CTDEEP) has the eDNA gear for our COOP and was taking samples this week and next in select tribs of the CT River where river herring historically ran to see if their presence can be detected (the need to rely on this technique for data is quite troubling). Micah Keiffer also has deployed egg mats in known Shortnose Sturgeon spawning areas below Holyoke Dam and has additonally been netting near the Rock Dam at Turners Falls Dam. He capture one female in that area that he applied an acoustic tag to. The several research studies at USGS Conte Lab are going very well and are providing some interesting results.



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Juvenile Northern Pike in aquarium at Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery, South Dakota
The Fish and Aquatic Conservation program leads aquatic conservation efforts for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We are committed to tackling the nation’s highest priority aquatic conservation and recreational challenges to conserve, restore, and enhance fisheries for future generations.