Peconic River fishway to be featured on ‘Lunkerville’ TV show

Sep 09, 2012
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Written by Denise Civiletti of the Riverhead Local

The NBCSports television show “Lunkerville” will be filming at the Peconic River this week.

The show, now in its seventh season on World Fishing Network, features “real people with real fish stories,” according to the show’s producers.

2012 0909 lunkerville signLunkerville’s host, indie film director and avid fisherman Michael de Avila will train his lens on the fish passage in Grangebel Park Thursday, Riverhead community development director Christine Kempner told town board members at thier Sept. 6 work session.

The show reaches nearly 80 million households, Kempner said. “It’s exciting that Riverhead will be featured in it.”

The permanent fishway was installed in the winter of 2010 to aid the passage of alewives on their annual migration from northern regions of the Atlantic Ocean to spawning grounds in the Peconic River.

Man-made obstructions, such as dams and spillways, impede the migration of the small river herring to safe waters where they spawn. Riverhead science teacher Bob Conklin and his middle school students began moving the fish over the dams and spillways to the 60-acre pond in the Peconic River every spring, beginning in 1995. In 2000, an aluminum fish ladder was installed to help the migration. It had to be put in place and removed each season.

The permanent fishway was Conklin’s long-held dream, but he didn’t live to see it completed. He passed away in December 2009 at age 72. It was dedicated to his memory in April 2010.

The fishway project, a joint effort of Riverhead Town, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, was part of a larger waterfront improvement project for downtown’s Grangebel park. It received a national award from Coastal America last year.

2012 0907 fish passage sculptureThe Long Island Aquarium is planning to create a sculpture for the park, to be installed near the fishway. It depicts alewives running upstream. At Thursday’s town board work session aquarium general manager Bryan DeLuca and exhibits manager Eli Fishman showed board members a model of the sculpture they’d like to install. It will stand about 10 feet tall, Kempner said. They hope it will draw attention to the fishway.

“People don’t even realize it’s there,” DeLuca said.

Kempner said the town is also going to erect a sign at the site.