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The Herring Are Running, The Herring Are Running!

Last weekend Dale and I took a Sunday drive to the Herring Run in nearby Middleboro. This particular spot that we visited has been an active fish spawning site since the late 1600s, when the Native Americans used it. It was rebuilt back in 1996 and the herring have rewarded us with their visits ever since.

Herring Run Trees

It’s a lovely spot, all green and full of flowering trees at this time of year.

Middleboro Herring Run 1

It’s also full of water. That’s a good thing, though, because the more water there is the easier it is for the fish to make their swim upstream.

Herring Run Ladders

I don’t have a lot of scientific understanding about this but the gist of the whole thing is that the herring have to make their way from the ocean to their place of birth in order to spawn. Cool, huh?

Herring Run Ladder

Anyway, the ladder – which really is like a regular ladder laying on the ground – helps them to get upstream.

Herring in the corner

It’s quite an arduous journey for the little fish and they collect in the cement corners of the ladder structure after they make it over a ladder rung. You can see their silvery bodies in that picture, I hope.

Herring Final Destination

When they finally make it to the top they hang out in this little pool and rest before swimming on to the spawning location. Last year 800,000 herring made their way up this particular run.

That’s a lot of fish, my friends. A lot of fish.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. I love that you blogged about this. Once again another favorite
    childhood memory of mine. We would stop at the Cape Cod
    Canal Herring Run at this time of the year on our way to my
    grandparents who lived on Bass River. I was always fascinated
    by the who thing and new that it was a great tradition my dad
    had for us and it meant we were almost in Cape Cod!! When I
    make my trek up there every September from NC, I always stop
    at the canal just out of the love of the Canal even if the Herring
    aren’t running!!

  2. We saw a very similar place in Washington (Seattle area) that had a salmon run. It’s good entertainment to watch the fishes.

  3. I haven’t been to that herring run in forever. My dad used to like to take us there in the spring.

    Herring are delish, especially pickled! (some Norweigan foods you eat as a child, learn to like and as an adult, wonder “why do I eat this?”)

  4. I remember going to the herring run with my dad as a kid! It was so much fun to “pick a fish” and try to follow it as it went up the ladder! I can still hear my dad … “Don’t get wet!!!” Yeah, well, not so much, hehe!

  5. That is very cool. I knew that salmon did this but didn’t think about other fish doing it, too. And I had no idea there were man made runs. Thanks for the education!

  6. Very cool. I’ve visited the Seattle salmon ladders and had no idea that herring do this too. Our natural world is such a wonder.

  7. There was a herring run in Wareham when I was growing up summers there. I remember looking forward to it each year. Great stuff Carole!

  8. Hi Carole,
    I came across your website and was excited to see you posting about river herring! I work for a small non-profit on Cape Cod that is working to protect river herring and sea herring. As you probably know river herring numbers have dropped dramatically over the past ten years and we believe a big part of that is due to the introduction of large, industrial, midwater trawlers that scoop up close to a million pounds of fish in a single tow. If anyone wants to stay updated with our work, or learn more about herring and river herring, drop me an e-mail at

  9. Amazingly cool. Lovely pics, too. Makes me want to head out to New England. It’s freezing here in “Sunny California”. There was even snow falling in Lake Tahoe this morning!

  10. Do people net them? It seems very much like the smelt runs on Lake Superior, but with the addition of the fish ladders. People come from hundreds of miles away to net the smelt. They gut them and cut off the heads and batter and deep fry them. We went to a smelt fry a couple weekends ago. It is an Upper Midwest tradition.

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