Each fall /late summer I start watching for the schools of menhaden that swim up into the tidal parts of the Moshassuck River. Some years they do not show up. Some years the foot long adults come to town. Most years the 3 inch menhaden come in schools. Last week I started to see the early arriving schools, 15 to 50 fish in a school between Citizens Bank and Smith Street. This morning I arrived downtown at about 8:15. it was just past high tide. From the bridge that crosses the Moshassuck below the train station south to the confluence of the Moshassuck and the Woonasquatucket I saw the biggest school of 3 inch menhaden I have ever seen. The entire width of the river was filled with fish.
Standing on the bridge just north of Citizens Bank looking into the water the menhaden were doing their lazy swimming, filtering water as usual. The coolest thing was that there were some predator fish in the water just slightly larger than the menhaden. Probably little bluefish, but I am not really sure. The great streams of menhaden are always parting, swirling, coming back together, and in this case you could see how the little predators would rush at the menhaden, the school would part keeping a foot or two away from the predator, while closing up from behind. I did not see a predator catch a menhaden this morning, though I have on other occasions, but in the still early morning water at the slack part of high tide, it was cosmic.
3 hrs later as I returned north the last streams of menhaden were heading downriver with the lowering tide. Rarely do the fish stick around for only one day, so I am hoping to see the million fish again tomorrow. Maybe you can join me.