Satucket and Matfield Fisheries

From the History of East Bridgewater by William Allen.


Formerly the number of alewives, or herring that passed up Satucket River and spawned in Robins Pond was very large. Shad seemed to prefer the Matfield River, and a shad weir was located on that stream, not far from the bridge of the Bridgewater Branch Railroad. The herring weir on the Satucket River, built by the aborigines, perhaps hundreds of years ago, still remains much the same as when the last Indian placed his net to catch the nimble fish as they darted through the stony sluice, which might well be called a race-way. For more than two hundred years, since the erection and running of mills, this perhaps only surviving structure here-abouts, built by the dusky owners of the soil, has been out of sight, except as when the water of the stream was drawn down for a short time in the spring of each year to permit the herring to pass up and down the stream, or repairs or building operations might require the water of the pond to be let off. Since 1819 mills have not been stopped on account of the fisheries, and herring have nearly ceased their visits in this vicinity, and the Indians’ dam has seldom been visible.


From the David Belding report on the restoration of the Alewife fisheries of Massachusetts 1920


Satucket River and Monponset Brook.- Satucket River, which takes its origin in Monponset Pond, joins Salisbury Plain River to form the Matfield River, which is a part of the upper Taunton River proper. The first part of its course, between Monponset and Robins Pond, is through a region of cranberry bogs, on the site of the original Stump Pond. The river is used for water power, and receives factory wastes. At the outlet of Robbins Pond is a cobblestone embankment, and at the lower part of the river is situated the Carver Cotton Gin Company, with a high impassable dam, now equipped with a David fishway.

At the present time there is no fishery in the Satucket River, as until 1920 the alewives were unable to get to Robbins and Monponset ponds for spawning. Formerly numbers of alewives passed up this river, and a shad weir was once located on the Matfield River.

By the establishment of fishways and the affording of free passageway to Robbins and Monponset Ponds the available spawning grounds for Taunton River would be increased, a fair fishery in Satucket River would be established, and the freshwater fishing in the ponds would be helped by provision of a source of food in the form of young alewives; also the run of white perch would be permitted. By the establishment of a concrete fishway in 1919 at the Jenkins Company Dam it was made possible for alewives to pass up to the dam of Carver Cotton Gin Company, were a fishway was installed in 1920. Restocking of the ponds with adult alewives, and proper enforcement of closed seasons, will be necessary to obtain appreciable results within the next few years.