Herring art by Robi Smith

The 2018 fish count has ended. Stay tuned!

It’s been a wild ride lately and we can only imagine what it’s been like for the river herring working their way up the coast. By mid-February we were already seeing smelt in the river so we know that the herring aren’t far behind. We are calling on our dedicated counters to return and for new volunteers to join the effort in this important year. We had a great turnout last year but could do even better. With the Town of Kingston and JRWA actively working on the dam removal project, we really need to collect great data this year as a baseline for big changes.


You! And your friends, family and neighbors. The more participants we get, the better the data quality, the more fun, and the easier for each volunteer.


Fisheries biologists rely on volunteer data to assess river herring status in runs throughout New England. River herring are a critical, keystone species essential to everything from local ecology to regional economic health. The species is a ghost of its historic populations, but restoration and protection efforts are beginning to show success.

The Elm Street fish ladder


The Jones River Herring Count is conducted at the Elm Street fish ladder. Once you sign up we’ll give you detailed instructions on parking and access.


Starting April 1st. Each count takes 10 minutes. We need three of those 10-minute counts in each of three time blocks (7am-11am, 11am-3pm, and 3pm-7pm) every day from April 1st – June 2nd. When you commit to a time block, you just need to do your 10-minute count at some point during that 4-hour window. Sign up for whatever you can commit to.

Examples: “Every Tues & Thurs after work (between 3-7pm)” ..or.. “Every Sunday before church (between 7-11am)” ..or.. “Every weekday during lunch break (between 11am-3pm)” ..or.. whatever random schedule suits you! We appreciate as many or as few blocks that you can commit to, but we need to fill up that schedule!


We will train you! Training will be scheduled at your convenience once you sign up. But the procedure is simple and goes like this:

  1. Arrive at the Elm Street counting location during your scheduled time slot.
  2. Take your position next to the fish ladder and time yourself for exactly 10 minutes of focused attention counting each fish that swims past the top of the ladder.
  3. Take the water temperature with the thermometer provided and enter your count and temperate data in the logbook at the site. Add any of your observations (weather, activity, river conditions).
  4. Give us a call if anything of concern happens (good or bad). You are our eyes and ears on the River.

SIGN UP NOW! 4 easy ways:

  • Online scheduling: See available time slots and enter your preferred times here: 2018 Herring Count Sign-up →
  • Email us at fish@jonesriver.org. Give us your name, contact info, and the time slots you can commit to, and we’ll add you to the schedule.
  • Call us at (781) 585-2322. If you miss us, leave a message with your name, contact info, and the time slots you can commit to.
  • Stop by the Jones River Landing to sign up on the master sign-up sheet. We will have it available on the front porch 24/7.

Thank you and spread the word!

Highlights from past years…

More than fish at the Elm Street ladder…