Projects > Studies
and Information About York's Rivers, Maine > Fish &
comprehensive fish and aquatic habitat study might include the following:
a survey of freshwater, marine, and anadromous species in the river,
its tributaries and ponds; water quality data including pH, temperature
especially during the summer months, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen;
stream channel characteristics including stream bottom composition,
riffle and pool information, overhanging vegetation, and stream
flow; ecosystem indicators including macroinvertebrate (water bugs)
species and habitat.
information for the York River, in constrast, is quite minimal.
Studies have been limited to species surveys on a few dates of
sampling; much of the other known information is purely anecdotal.
Virtually no data has been collected on potential habitat, ecosystem,
or stream channel characteristics. Due to lack of data,
it is not known whether York River populations are locally healthy,
declining or increasing. Local anglers may well be the best
source of anecdotal information About York's Rivers.
fair amount of information has been collected for nearby Wells
Harbor, which provides similar salt-water habitat.
Fisheries and Wildlife has done some fish surveys, including basic
water quality monitoring data (temperature, pH). Not all locations
were surveyed in all years. Please note that the York River is mostly
estuarine, and this department only works in freshwater. Accordingly,
their sample locations were on the smaller tributary streams and
Almost no fish habitat information has been collected, for either
saltwater or freshwater fishes.
Inland Fisheries & Wildlife's main role has been stocking
of freshwater streams. There has been little assessment
of wild fish populations, although species sampling fieldwork
was conducted at a few locations in 1958, 1995, and 1998.
There are no species surveys for marine fishes, at either the
state or federal level.
Little is documented about the anadromous fish runs of the York
paper file includes a sample of field datasheets from 1958, 1995,
and 1998 monitoring, along with a database printout with fish
survey data from all years. The data is not yet in GIS system,
and does not include the basic water quality data that was collected
as part of the field work.
information from this database includes:
Swamp Darter, Maine Threatened - Cider Hill, Foley, Chase, Boulter
Ponds; Cape Neddick River.
Brook Trout (native) - stocked in some places, wild in others.
Sea-run Brook Trout documented in MacIntire-Junkins Brook, Smelt
Brook, Cutts Ridge Brook prior to Ledges golf course construction
in 1994. IF&W biologist recommended annual monitoring of
trout and insect populations, and for the golf course to leave
a 100' buffer.
Alewives documented in Junkins Brook - May 6, 1958. Water temp.
51 F. Alewives typically run at the same time each year, late
April through mid-May; the run is thought to be dependent on
water temperature reaching 52 F.
Smelt in Smelt Brook at least until the construction of Belle
Marsh Reservoir, 1994. IF&W recommended maintaining a spring
flow of 2-3 cfs out of the reservoir during spring smelt spawning,
approximately April 1-May 20. No data on the fish population
has been collected since then.
Rainbow smelt spawning area is from Rt. 9 crossing at Brixham
Lower Corners upstream to about 200' above the confluence of
Smelt Brook and MacIntire Junkins Brook.
interesting project could be a visual assessment of fish species
in late April to early May, when observers might see Alewives and
Spring Smelt. (See below:
Organizing for a Fish Count.)
Contact: IF&W Grey Office, Jim Pellerin. 207-657-2345. For
anadromous species survey information for nearby watersheds, and
possible future monitoring in York River, contact Michele
Dionne, at Wells
National Estuarine Research Reserve. 207-646-1555
reaches of the York River and its tributaries are stocked by the Department
of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The stocking sites are fairly
consistent from year-to-year. They stock:
& Contact: Schedule for each year is available on IF&W's
Fishing web page or from Region A office in Grey 207-657-2345.
looks at fish use of restored salt-marshes, compared to naturally-occuring
salt-marshes. It also includes a list of fish (see Table 3)
that use the marshes.
Brook Trout (native to this area) - spring stocking in 1999.
York River in Eliot at Frost Hill Rd. and Brixham Rd.
Smelt Brook at Bell Marsh Rd.
Brown Trout (non-native, from Europe) - fall stocking in 1999.
formal study has been done of marine or anadromous fish populations
in the York River. However, the Wells National Estuarine Research
Reserve has studied the fish populations in other areas, notably
Wells Harbor and Webhannet and Little Rivers. To the extent that
these are similar ecosystems, similar populations may be found in
York. Michele Dionne has also proposed a study for the York
River, see F9, below.
Estuarine Research Reserve. 207-646-1555.
provides a list of marine fish species that rely on coastal and estuarine
waters for spawning, breeding, feeding or growth to maturity.
The on-line report indicates that the Maine coastal waters from Kittery
to Cape Neddick (including York Harbor and the York River, but also
going further offshore) is essential habitat for Atlantic Cod, Whiting,
Winter Flounder, Yellowtail Flounder, American Plaice, Atlantic Halibut,
Atlantic Sea Scallop, Atlantic Sea Herring, and Bluefin Tuna.
These reports are based on presence of certain species in annual fisheries
Report for Maine waters from Kittery
to Cape Neddick. A specific report is not included for
the York River, but the Great
Bay and Wells do both have an estuary report. Wells
Harbor is probably the most similar estuary to the York River,
according to a fisheries biologist at the National Marine Fisheries
National Marine Fisheries Service, Gloucester MA. 978-281-9102.
Bureau of Health has issued fish consumption advisories for all fish
in Maine, both freshwater and marine. This is due to mercury, dioxin,
and PCBs found in most Maine waters. The York River has no additional
restrictions, beyond the state-wide advisories.
advisories are about to be revised, in the spring of 2000.
The Bureau of Public Health is expecting to advise:
fish species, both freshwater and marine:
Limit consumption to at most 1 meal per month for:
Women who plan to become pregnant
Children under 8
Limit consumption to at most 1 meal per week for all other adults.
The following should not eat Lobster Tomalley:
Women who plan to become pregnant
Children under 8
All other adults should limit to no more than 1 meal per month.
Bureau of Public Health is interested in sampling striped bass from
Southern Maine locations as part of their research, and would consider
sampling along the York River. The York Rivers Association
may want to advocate for this study.
For the most recent advisories, please see the Maine Bureau
of Public Health (you may have to scroll down to see the fish
advisory information). Contact: Dr.
Andrew Smith, State Toxicologist. 207-287-5189.
Shellfishing - Soft-shelled clams. Town of York Regulations.
York River estuary supports a population of soft-shelled clams,
which are available for harvesting, only during the winter, with
a permit, downstream of Ramshead Point. Upstream of this area,
overboard discharges prohibit harvest.
minimum clam size is 2". The York Shellfish Commission has
a re-seeding program in the York River, and is planting several
hundred thousand seed clams per year. These are being covered
with nets, to prevent predation of the young clams. (a particular
problem is the invasive, non-native green crab).
Pollution Closures: The river is closed to shellfishing upstream
of Ramshead Point, east of Rt. 1, and downstream of Stage Neck,
where the estuary opens up to become York Harbor. The river is open
to shellfishing from Nov. 1 to May 15 between Ramshead and Stage
Tide Closures: Also closes the clam flats periodically.
Red Tide Hotline: 1-800-232-4733.
David Webber, York Shellfish Warden. 207-363-1721.
Reports for Maine: Reel
Time: the Journal of Saltwater Flyfishing. This
on-line journal is typical of the electronic discussion among anglers
each spring. Through email lists and on-line chat boards,
anglers track the arrival of migrating fish (bluefish, striped bass)
on their journey northward. In addition to posts from individual
anglers, this journal includes an "official" report for current
fishing conditions in Maine and throughout the east.
proposal sets forth a methodology to capture and study the marine
fish in the York River, and to assess the river's habitat for spawning
of anadromous fish. This study, particularly if combined with
volunteer-based surveys of anglers, would help to fill some of the
gaps in the knowledge of the York River.
Estuarine Research Reserve. 207-646-1555.
document describes the method used by a volunteer group to estimate
the alewife run in the Parker River, an estuarine river in northeastern
Massachusetts. The group counted at fishways installed in
each of 6 dams along the Parker River. The fishways provide
a convenient place to count because all fish must pass through the
fishways in one, narrow point. The fish count collected data
in the late 1990s which was compared to earlier studies from the
1970s, providing a 25-year picture of declining alewife populations.
It also built a local constituency for the alewife run, beyond local
York River, without fishways at which to count, and without earlier
data for comparison, might have less scientific benefit from a fish
Count Homepage, Parker River Clean Water Association, including
assessment report published in the Shad Journal.
Rob Stevenson, Parker
River Clean Water Association. 978-462-2551; or Becka Roolf
(former Executive Director of Parker River Clean Water Association),
now at the Rivers & Trails program: 207-729-0359.
Macroinvertebrate Sampling Methods. See
EPA and RiverWatch Network have jointly developed a protocol for
volunteer monitoring of macroinvertebrates as water quality indicators.
However, the macroinvertebrate information would also be of interest
to fisheries biologists. Hardcopy printouts are included in
the file H8 in the Habitat section. As the EPA index of macroinvertebrates
has been developed for more southern states, it may be valuable
to connect with the Maine DEP Biomonitoring program for a more local
index: Susan Davies,
Maine DEP Biomonitoring Program. 207-287-7778.
Volunteer Stream Monitoring Manual.
Endangered, Threatened, Invasive.
to the Index.