During the summer of 2019 (pre Covid-19), a group of avid fly fishermen who are repeat clients at Facolli Fall did a special experiment. This group believes in preserving the quality of fishing and strictly follows a catch-and-release approach to support their belief. A member of the group, Brian Farm, PhD Biology, took a scale sample from a 12 lb ouananiche which he then released unharmed.
Although reading dish scales is a very specialized skill, Brian later put that scale under a microscope (see photo) and attempted to identify the growth bands. The six lines “on top” are pretty clear but there are four additional lines below (indicated by a “?”) which may or may not indicate a growth year. Therefore, in Brian’s opinion, it’s likely this fish is at least 8 years old, and could be anywhere from 6 to 11 (if you count the outer edge – the current year’s growth, as an additional year). Again, someone with more experience aging salmonids from scales may provide a more accurate estimate but this information is still very interesting. At 8 years old, this would indicate a very good growth rate of about 1 ½ pounds per year. The habitat and available food at Facolli Fall must be good for them! We see more and bigger salmon in the future 🙂