HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Robert E. Barrett Fishway at the Holyoke Dam is open to the public for viewing!

For the last three years the fishway was closed to the public due to the pandemic. Now, families are happy to be able to tour the facility and watch the fish pass by.

“We missed it for the last couple of years because they were closed. We try to take her wherever we can, so this is Genevieve and this is our first time here,” said John Sodano of South Hadley. His daughter said her favorite fish is the eel fish.

The fishway is operated by Holyoke Gas & Electric and consists of two “lifts” that carry migrating fish up the Connecticut River. Gizzard Shad, Sea Lamprey and American Shad, are just a few of the fishes that migrate through the fishway. The American Shad is the the most common fish and so far they’ve seen over 9,000 of them moving up the river.

“We use attraction water to attract the fish into the buckets and once their in the buckets we give them a lift and they come up into the flute,” said Kate Craven, Marketing Director at Holyoke Gas & Electric. And all the fish are counted by hand using clickers.

The fishway is open through June 18 on Wednesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to anyone and there will also be guided tours each Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. for free. The fishway will also be open on Memorial Day.

The fishway was built in 1955 and was the first fish lift on the Atlantic Coast. As the fish swim upstream, against the current, they make their way into the traction water which flows just alongside the dam. They then swim into the fish lift.

This Sunday, a Mother’s Day event will be held at the fishway from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free carnations will be given to mothers that attend.