Alewives Attract Gulls
and Gawkers

by Steve Cartwright

Damariscotta Mills. In 1729 a double sawmill was built at the head of the falls between fresh water Damariscotta Lake and the tidal headwaters of the Damariscotta River blocking the alewife passage to waters in the lake. As early as 1741, the legislature called for opening the fish passage at Damariscotta Mills and the town finally built the "New Stream" (fish ladder) in 1807. The fish ladder was recently rebuilt to improve ease of passage for alewives. ©Photo by Sam Murfitt

On a bright day in early June, gulls flock to Damariscotta Mills hoping to catch one of the hundreds of silvery alewives swimming upstream to spawn in Damariscotta Lake. An occasional osprey or eagle cruises in, seeking to pluck a bony treat from swirling, cascading water.

Even fish that make it from the sea—up the Damariscotta River to Great Salt Bay, and up the ladder to the lake—face uncertainty. Several largemouth bass swam lazily at the lake outlet, ready to snarf down a tired alewife.


2011 Maine Lobster Boat Racing Schedule

©Photo by Sam Murfitt