Category Penobscot River & Bay

Ice Age survivors: a tale of two land-locked fish

Maine lakes are home to two evolutionary wonders of the animal kingdom, Arctic char and landlocked salmon, related species of fish that exist in very few places. They descend from a common ancestor that lived millions of years ago. Evolution took them on diverging pathways during repeated ice ages. The char stayed farther north, swimming […]

Foxes in the henhouse: we’ve been here before (sort of)

The President’s Salmon is an environmental history of the Atlantic salmon and the Penobscot River in Maine. But it also tells a broader story of how American presidents, and their national policies on energy, trade, and the environment, have real impacts at the local level. Sometimes these effects outlast their presidents; other times, citizen action […]

Fish return to a restored Penobscot

Between the head of tide above Bangor to where it widens into the bay at Searsport, the Penobscot River shifts from a flowing freshwater waterway banked by cedar and pine to a brackish, wave-lapped marsh with a rocky shoreline. In this estuary, salt concentrations fluctuate as wind and tide push water and sediments back and […]

A New National Monument on the East Branch Penobscot River

On August 24, 2016, President Obama designated 87,500 acres of northern Maine as Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument. The new public land encompasses much of the East Branch Penobscot River. I visited the area in 2014 while researching Chapter 5 of The President’s Salmon. Here’s an excerpt. The East Branch Penobscot River begins at […]

An Oyster Story

Each variety of oyster—that craggy and somewhat mysterious shellfish—has a story to tell. But every oyster story must first include a bit of background. What are oysters? Where did they come from? Why are they here, now? Read An Oyster Story in the 2015 Island Journal, published by the Rockland, Maine-based Island Institute and featuring […]

The President’s Salmon in The Boston Globe

A preview of the forthcoming The President’s Salmon can be found in today’s Boston Globe Magazine. Politics, preservation, and salmon fishing: an annual rite of the Penobscot River sporting world brought a Maine angler and the year’s first Atlantic salmon to the president’s doorstep.

Deliverance

After an epic winter, spring arrived in the Penobscot River Valley. Ice is out on the lower river and most of the tributaries, and the water temperature has reached a still-chilly 5 degrees Celsius. Fred Trasko and the rest of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife crew are preparing to transfer 24,000 smolts to the river […]

Holtrachem mercury – It’s still here.

The Department of Marine Resources has closed upper Penobscot Bay to fishing after a court-ordered study found elevated concentrations of mercury in crab and lobster. Mercury pollution comes from lots of places, but this particular part of the Penobscot is a hotspot of contamination thanks to Holtrachem, a now-closed plant that made chlorine and other […]

How did U.S. presidents eat their salmon?

For eighty years, recreational salmon anglers on the Penobscot River in Maine upheld the annual tradition of giving the first Atlantic salmon each spring to the President of the United States. A closer examination of how each president’s salmon would have been prepared and eaten reveals that the celebratory eating of salmon happened at the […]

Penobscot River Restoration Continues with Removal of Veazie Dam

Restoration of the mighty Penobscot River became one step closer to reality on July 22, when hundreds of people gathered on the river banks to watch as demolition crews began dismantling the Veazie Dam. I was there, too, and I wrote about it for Fishermen’s Voice newspaper and made a short video: