For years, a fishway system for the Oyster River watershed has been a part of Old Saybrook’s Plan of Conservation and Development. The purpose of the fishway system is to allow river herring (alewives and blueback herring) and eels to reach their traditional habitat in the northwestern part of town, as part of a larger effort to preserve the overall environmental health of the Oyster River watershed area and the town. The third and final fish passage in the system, a natural fishway around the dam at Crystal Lake, was completed in 2009. This fishway and lake are on town property behind the Schoolhouse Road Town Park; feel free to visit.
During the Spring when the fish are running, the fishways are monitored by the CT DEEP Inland Fisheries Division and a weekly report is issued. We will summarize that report on this website until the season is over in June.
Report of April 10, 2012: The fishways are now open for the season. So far, only five alewives have been spotted. On the other hand, young eels are making their way north through the fishways in large numbers; 3,657 were counted this week.
Report of April 17, 2012: Alewife runs have been insignificant except in two Connecticut River tributaries in Old Lyme and Lyme. On the other hand, the eel run continues strong at Fishing Brook in Old Saybrook; there were 15,816 counted just this past week!
Report of April 24, 2012: River herring counts continue to depend strongly on location. Old Lyme, East Lyme and Greenwich are having very large runs of alewives, but there have been none counted in Old Saybrook for two weeks. Recent rains and changes in temperature may influence the fish runs in the coming weeks. However, a big eel run continues in Old Saybrook, with the total eel count now over 26,000.
Report of May 1, 2012: This past week, the water was cold due to the weather, and so there was little activity at the fishways. Even the eel run slowed down, with the Old Saybrook total standing at 27,588.
Report of May 8, 2012: This past week was again slow due to the cool, drizzly weather. The Fishing Brook fishway in Old Saybrook was closed, and eels were not counted this week.
Report of May 15, 2012: The alewife run was very disappointing in Old Saybrook this year. The five alewives counted early in the season at Fishing Brook remain the only ones counted this season (and that is with an automatic electronic counter), and this fishway has now been shut down for the year. Some eels continue to come upstream in the Oyster River, with the season count now at 29,138 (the highest count we have seen anywhere in the state).
Report of May 22, 2012: The total eel count at Fishing Brook is now 29,868. Up just slightly from the week before and still the highest in the state. It appears that our fishways are about done for the year at this point.
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