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Could we catch salmon in the Delaware someday?

                 Historically the Delaware was never noted as an Atlantic salmon habitat. Some sources put the lower limit of salmon migration at 40 degrees latitude, the Delaware Bay is 3 degrees below that.  The main habitat for Atlantic salmon is north of Cape Cod, far from the mouth of the Delaware and Hudson Rivers.  In 1895 and 1896, local newspaper articles told of large strange nine to fifteen pound fish with hook jaws and sharp teeth appearing in the fish markets, nets, dinner plates, and at the point of gigging poles along the entire length of the Delaware River and Bay [163].  The articles went on to tell about lower river fishermen selling the fish as high as a dollar a pound at the market, an unheard of price in those times.  Anglers in New York and Pennsylvania reported monster size fish in record numbers crowded into small streams of the upper tributaries as far north as the Beaverkill and West Branch.  Many of these reports mistakenly called them super sized trout.  The fish were Atlantic salmon in the grilse or spawning stage of life and they brought with them not just eggs and sperm but promises, hopes and dreams of more food and thousands of dollars in recreational fishing.  The story was further verified by a report in the Thirty-Seventh Annual American Fisheries Society by Mr. W. E. Meehan in 1908. Was the 1895 to 1906 Salmon runs a result of a reversal  of the North Atlantic gyro bring cold  Labrador water and fish from the Northwestern Atlantic ?  Or was this another nineteen century “bucket biology” experiment done by man.      

Attempts to stock the Delaware with salmon began as early as 1871 by Mr. Thaddeus Norris who planted 75,500 young Atlantic salmon fish in the waters in and around Easton, most likely around the Bushkill.  According to a report by the New Jersey Game Commission [162], stockings also took place by the state in this same time frame.  By 1877, shad fishermen reported catching 15 to 20 adult fish in the grilse stage on the River.  The next year no Atlantic Salmon were reported to be caught. In 1890, The Pennsylvania Fish Commission began a much larger stocking program with salmon hatched at its new facility on the Little Lehigh. The first stocking took place as far north as Deposit, NY where 60,000 fish where place in the upper streams of Pennsylvania.  The next year, 200,000 more were released with a third and final stocking of the same amount in 1892.  Witnesses confirm that these stocking produced Parrs or Juvenile salmon that remained in the water for a season before heading south.    Because of the high fishing pressures for parrs, trout and bass, the owners of Blooming Grove Creek were forced to closing all fishing.

What happen to the salmon?


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