Sarah Burton, Fisheries Intern
- Total Reports: 8
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Posted on August 9, 2012 | Permalink
Potomac and Patapsco River Surveys
Region: Western and Central
Location: Upper Potomac River, Patapsco River
Between a couple of office days this week, I returned to the upper Potomac, but this time for a relaxing four-mile float down the river from the Brunswick ramp to the Monocacy ramp. John Mullican led our survey, employing four kayaks and a canoe. As we slowly floated with the current, each of us made it our responsibility to approach anglers and request their participation in the smallmouth bass survey. This survey is run by DNR along with the Potomac River Smallmouth Club in order to learn more about the smallmouth population, catch rate, and effects of regulations placed on the species. The anglers who choose to participate are given postage prepaid survey cards to mail back to DNR. Each card has a few questions about the anglerís fishing experience on the back. Though this doesnít seem like much, the knowledge of these smallmouth anglers is vital to the management of the population. Plus, the anglersí submissions will be placed in a drawing in November and 10 winners will receive $50 prepaid debit cards. Although we didnít come across many anglers on that slow Tuesday morning, we were definitely appreciative that those we encountered were happy to help us out. To our delight, most of our day was spent fishing, chatting, and enjoying the scenery and perfect weather.
On Thursday, I met up with Andrew Becker for an electro-fishing survey on the Patapsco near Woodstock. Here, we set up in a small section of water with two long nets stretching from bank to bank. We lined up the nets with markers which had been secured in the trees to indicate the correct sample area. This is so the data from this exact site can be compared with years past and with data for years to come. We secured the lead lines with large rocks and supported the float line with thick sticks on either side of the nets. This prevented any fish from entering or leaving our sample site and allowed us to accurately sample the area for the species and abundance of any fish living there at one time. This data is later used to calculate and assess the health of the river as well as the influence of nearby dams. Our crew of around 15 people made two runs at the site. Everyone carried nets and some paired them with either anodes to shock and temporarily stun the fish or with water-filled buckets for the recovering fish. We also used a raft with a generator to power four of our anodes. Apparently our little troop was quite a sight because a local resident came with a camera to snap pictures of our efforts. After an explanation of the best technique to catch the stunned fish, it seemed like I was netting eels and sunfish left and right. By the end of our two runs we had a hefty collection of American eels, redbreast sunfish, tessellated darters, a few smallmouth bass, sculpin, rock bass, creek chub, madtom catfish, spottail shiners, and white suckers. Andrew took out the time to explain to Hayden Cook and I the processes of identifying different species of fish and challenged us to identify many of the fish ourselves. I was grateful for the time he spent with the two of us and it was a fun opportunity to test the knowledge we gained from all of June and July working here at Fisheries.