Debbie Hanson 11/28/2014 In addition to the feelings of elation and accomplishment that came along with the experience of catching your first fish, I’m sure you have fond memories of the person who was by your side when it happened. You might also have some […]
Month: November 2014
The number and size of fish caught by anglers are the most popular information. This is called “Catch Per Unit Effort” by fisheries biologists. However in an attempt to grasp the full underwater picture, they will use a range of sampling techniques. Each method has a degree of sampling bias or selectivity for a species or a size, so biologists must consider such factors as: time of day, season, temperature, habitat and turbidity of the water.
Here are some sampling methods used by fisheries biologists:
Electro fishing: Portable generators are used to stun fish with an electric current. This can be done with a backpack unit and rubber waders in small streams, or from a specialized boat for larger bodies of water. Sensitivities of the electric current vary between species and effective depth is limited by factors such as minerals in the water.
Seine: This long net requires a person at each end to sample along a shoreline. It is commonly used to determine presence of young of year after spawning, such as bluegill when managing as forage for largemouth bass.
Trammel net: This long net is a combination of two net mesh sizes, such that fish get trapped in a pouch of smaller mesh netting when they push through the larger holes of the second layer. It can be set in deeper water with buoys.
Trap nets: Fish are directed into a series of cone shaped net chambers. In Oklahoma’s Lake McMurty, biologists use them in the spring to obtain the status of crappie and saugeye. In Michigan, they are used to catch muskies for spawning at fish hatcheries.
Gathering this data for many years helps biologists predict trends and manage fisheries. For example, this information may help identify and protect spawning areas, detect presence of invasive species, or determine if there is adequate forage for big fish. Aquatic systems are always changing, but by continually using multiple sampling techniques fish biologists do their best to keep anglers and fish “happy.”
If you would like to learn more about fish conservation, visit the Take Me Fishing Conservation Section
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Debbie Hanson 11/17/2014 Did you know that you are helping to support the Sport Fish Restoration Program when you buy fishing tackle, fishing equipment and boat fuel? It’s true! Every time you shop where there is a Sport Fish Restoration Program logo, you are helping […]
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The Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR) is one of the industries best kept secrets. And it shouldn’t be, for every time boaters and anglers purchase gear, buy a fishing license or fuel up their boats they are supporting the program.
The program was created by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) half a century ago with a simple mission: to conserve and manage fish and game quantities. Along the way they created programs that immediately benefit anglers and boaters (such as fish stocking or repairing a boat ramp), and long term projects (like research or increasing the number of anglers). That present/future approach is a good one.
Some Fast Facts:
-Between 1952 and 2014, WSFR proved $7.9 billion in Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration grants to state fish and wildlife agencies
-Last year, WSFR funded 337 Boating Access projects for a total of $60.5 million.
-Last year, WSFR funded 130 Aquatic Education projects (education, stewardship, and conservation) for a total of $17.6 million.
The USFWS also works to increase the number of national partnerships. Many hands make light work, so increasing the number of stakeholders is critical. Any group that uses water is a candidate, so travel/tourism boards that promote swimming, boating, sailing, canoeing, or camping are networking opportunities. Groups that rely on water quality such as aqua culture for raising fish or shell fishermen are similarly contacted. The more help we get the more we can improve our environment.
WSFR does more than pay for projects; they’re very involved in them as well. In inland areas, habitat improvements are done on freshwater ponds, lakes, and rivers whereas states with a saltwater coastline may have fisheries conservation work done on beaches, estuaries, saltponds, or flats. Improving boat ramps is a big focus as is fisheries management. Sometimes fish genetics are studied and artificial reefs are created. Regular surveys are also part of the mix and are particularly useful on the state level. Depending on the survey, questions can range from user profiles to understand who is fishing and boating to what areas or species of fish anglers believe need some help.
Maybe the Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration program is like the unsung hero, a football lineman. But it’s a great program that certainly helps put the ball in the endzone.
Tom Keer is an award-winning freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com.