Tuesday, August 7, 2012

MFWP Work Continues

Had another great day with Region 2 fisheries biologist Will and Jerrod on Monday. We met early and headed up to a small Clark Fork tributary to do a depletion. The object of a depletion is to get an estimate of the fish population in a specific section of a stream. Previous estimates had been made on the stream and in the past eight years, restoration work has been done to certain sections to see if it would have any effect on the population.

The process was quite simple (although my last electro-shocking experience did not seem simple at all). We first set up a block net at the bottom end of the section we were going to shock. This prevents any stunned fish from being carried downstream. We then began to make our first pass, working our way upstream through the thick brush. Jerrod was in charge of shocking, while Will used the dip net to collect the stunned fish. It didn't take long before we were into fish. My job was to transport the fish until we were done with the pass.

Will and Jerrod gettin' it done

After each pass, the fish would be placed in a live net in order to recover from the shock.

Our shocking of the stream produced almost all cutthroat x rainbow hybrids with many of them being under four inches long. A few fish were almost eight inches long, which was pretty impressive for the size of the creek.

When we were done with all three runs through the section, we compared the data to a 2008 figure. The numbers from the three passes were practically identical, the same amount of fish for the first two passes and only one fish more on the third pass. Will and Jerrod were amazed by the nearly identical counts and said "that never happens". It looks like the restoration work hasn't affected the population at all.

It was a great day with MFWP as I learned a ton of things. Working with Will and Jerrod is a lot of fun simply because they enjoy the work that they do (and they are really cool guys). I wish I had an actual position with MFWP, because doing jobs like this everyday would make for a very fun summer. Hopefully next summer will come with some opportunities to do so.

After resting for a few hours in Missoula, I met up with Mr. Anderson to do some fishing. We hit the Clark Fork for a few hours. The fish that we found were more than willing to take small attractor patterns and PMD's, as we enjoyed a nice evening of decent bows and browns.

The Youth of the Clark Fork

The Man Himself

All of the fish that we landed seemed to be fat and happy. They even put up good fights, despite the low flows and warm temperatures lately.

Fishing on the Mo may be picking up again as the prolific hatch of Tricos gets stronger every day. I'm looking forward to maybe getting out to do a night expedition on the Mo, in search of some big nocturnal browns. Stay tuned for the next post. Until then, I wish you great fishing!

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