Holyoke dam fish lift open for viewing season

Hampden County

The Robert E. Barrett Fishway at the Holyoke Dam opened for its annual viewing season Wednesday afternoon. 

The fishway is owned and operated by Holyoke Gas and Electric and has two elevators for carrying migrating fish up and over the dam.

During the next few weeks, two elevators will lift up to a half a million shad over the Holyoke dam to continue their journey up the Connecticut River from the Atlantic Ocean.

“We lift them up over the dam, and there are about 500,000 fishes that pass through this facility to get to the spawning ground above the dam,” said Kate.

The fishway is open for free self-guided tours starting May 2 on Wednesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m until June 10. Guided 45-minute tours will be available Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. Visitors can watch the fish being carried over the dam from an observation deck that overlooks the Connecticut River. 

Rudy and Jeri Berg of Columbus, Ohio were visiting their son in Chicopee when they decided to check out this 55-year-old iconic fish-lift.

“I mean, it’s just an amazing place to be,” said Rudy Berg. “If you live in the area you should come and see.”

“I don’t think people know what they have here,” said Jeri Berg. “I agree, my husband got it googling, so you want to check it out. I’m going home and tell my son and daughter in law to go check it out, it’s right in their backyard, you always miss what’s in your backyard.”

Holyoke Gas and Electric provides guided tours every Saturday and Sunday afternoon after 1:30 p.m. and they’re planning special activities on Mothers day, May 13.

There will be no vehicle access to the fishway on May 6 due to the MassDOT River Roll & Stroll event, but visitors will still be able to walk to the fishway.

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