Fishing season is right around the corner, but even if you're not an avid fisherman, the Amoskeag Fishways Learning Center is a great spot to learn about the river, fish, wildlife and environmental concerns of the Merrimack River that flows through our city. Located right off the Amoskeag traffic circle in northwestern Manchester, Fishways offers a visitor center with displays and interactive exhibits along with a spectacular viewing window where you can watch the fish swim by as they prepare to navigate the fish ladder.
With the building of hydroelectric dams around 1921, fish were unable to swim up the river from the ocean to spawn because of the height of the dams, thus driving down the population in many rivers. The Amoskeag fish ladder consists of 54 steps, each one foot in height, which allow the fish to navigate upstream. It was built in 1989 and has been extremely effective in aiding in the cycle of life for the fish and also in educating citizens about the need for environmental awareness in this area.
According to their website at http://www.amoskeagfishways.org approximately 10,000 visitors come to the fish ladder during fish season each year. Common to the area are shad, salmon, herring and sea lamprey along with an occasional turtle! The staff of Amoskeag Fishways are knowledgeable and helpful; feel free to ask any questions you might have about the flora and fauna of the river.
The visitor center is open year round and offers special events for the whole family. Lamprey Appreciation Day is held on June 5th with info on the lamprey and a hands-on visit with the wily creatures. Kids (and adults) can don cotton gloves and pick them up in their tanks while learning all about them. There are other events scheduled such as Family Friday nights, Fishway Fundays (ages 4-5), and visits with animals from Squam Lakes Science Center along with a host of other activities. Check listings for time and admission rates on the Amoskeag Fishways website or call 626-FISH.
Ample parking is available at the top of the hill and guests follow the fish print trail down the hill to the visitor center. Handicap parking is also available nearer the center.
On Thursday, April 29th at 10 AM, the Fish and Game biologists will be at the Amoskeag Fishways to restock the salmon and will also be on hand to answer questions from the public. Be sure to stop by and watch as the new salmon stock is introduced into the river!