The buckeyes are back and what looked to be a disappointing year for the river herring is turning into another success story for the fish.
“It’s what I didn’t expect to happen,” reported Paul Earnshaw, president of the Buckeye Brook Coalition.
He said on Saturday he, his wife Lori and volunteer fish counters started seeing an outward migration. These are fish that had already made a run up the brook to Warwick Pond and Spring Green Pond to spawn and were returning to the saltwater.
On the Buckeye Brook Facebook Page he said Tuesday that as many as 259 fish were counted in a 10-minute period Saturday. Then on Monday he stopped at the culvert at West Shore Road to see the “continuous wakes [of fish] pushing upstream.”
“When I go out to look closer, it was obvious that thousands were on their way up stream,” he reported.
Just last week, Earnshaw was calling this year’s run a “disappointment.” While monitored two and three times a day since March 24, fish had been spotted on only five occasions. The largest count for a single day was less than 90.
What was being seen at Buckeye Brook contrasted to counts at other runs in the state. According to Phil Edwards, fishery biologist with the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), runs in North Kingstown, Tiverton and South Kingstown were strong. He said the runs were late because of the prolonged winter and he held out hope that the fish would also return to Warwick in high numbers.
His wishful thinking evidently paid off.
A visit to the Lakeshore Drive culvert Tuesday morning found the pool just below the road swirling with spawning buckeyes. Many of the fish also proceeded through the culvert presumably to spawn in Spring Green Pond to the north of Airport Road.
Earnshaw said he was finding as many incoming as there were outbound fish.
“How could I have doubted the power of the Mighty Buckeye? She was the first to produce, and maybe the last as well. Fish Count will be extended at least another week,” he wrote supporters.