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  1. Hayden Cook, Fisheries Intern
  2. Total Reports: 14
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Posted on June 27, 2012 | Permalink

My Week in Fisheries Crabs, Oysters and Trout

Region: Eastern and Western
Location: Cambridge, Ocean City and Beaver Creek

Last week as an Intern for the DNR Fisheries Program, I got to go various assignments. Tuesday I went out with Steve Vilnit of the Commercial Fisheries Outreach and Marketing, with chefs from restaurants to show them where the local seafood comes from. On Wednesday and Thursday I drove to Beaver Creek in Washington County to meet up with John Mullican and his crew to help with an electrofishing survey on trout. Finally on Friday I went to the Coastal Bays near Ocean City with Chris Jones to troll and seine.

With Steve we first went to a woman’s house that has a small soft shell crabbing farm in a large one floor garage. She buys crabs off of watermen that are close to molting, then farms them till they molt their hard shell for their new shoft shell which she then sells. Next we went to J.M. Clayton Company, which is a crab factory. Here they buy the crabs off the watermen, then the crabs are cooked and picked. The crabs are picked by workers or toward the end of the season by machine. There was one picker in the factory that competed in a crab picking contest, and she won, I never knew someone could pick a crab so fast. Back to the point - the crab meat is sold as lump crab or claw meat to companies that then dispensed to restaurants. Our last stop for the day was at the Choptank Oyster Farm. This oyster farm is currently farming around ten million oysters, ranging from the ages of two to four years old. Cages for the oysters are made out of PVC piping in a rectangle shape, which holds one thousands oysters in each cage that float atop the water. My favorite part was eating the fresh oysters right out of their cages. Steve made up a concoction, where the crab meat from J.M. Clayton Company is placed on top of the oyster meat, with Old Bay and a sliver of hot sauce.

John Mullican and his crew took us out on Beaver Creek to go elcectrofishing. This is a great place for their survey because the creek stays at around fifty degrees or so all year long, with cold runoff from the mountains making it a pristine living and breeding habitat for brook, brown and rainbow trout. The purpose was to survey how the trout population is doing in differerent parts of the creek. Parts of the creek were naturally restored, meaning holes were dug on the bed of the creek, netting was put in places and other things were done to help make the creek as natural of a habitat for the trout, hoping that more trout would stay and survive there. The restored section we electrofished had a better trout population and young trout than before it was restored. Young trout are a very good sign because that means the habitat is ideal for trout to lay and hide there eggs under the small pebble like rocks on the bed of the creek. Trout need a rocky bottom when laying eggs so they can make a hole in the bed, and then push the rock back over the eggs for protection.

Over two days we electrofished four sections of Beaver Creek, two people held backpacks with a battery and a probe to shock the water, while the others held nets and buckets to catch and hold the trout. The trout ranged from two inches or smaller to around two feet, which was the biggest we caught. The creek is mostly brown trout, but there were a good amount of rainbow trout, our two footer was a rainbow trout caught in the put and take section which rainbow and brown trout are put in for anglers to catch and eat. Beaver Creek is a good place to fish for trout, and with the restoration programs going on the creek will only get better.

On Friday with Chris Jones and his co-workers I went to the Coastal Bays to troll and seine. For seining we drove and anchored the boat up to marshy land then got out and walked the 100 foot net with a bag in it about 100 feet or so. When trolling we would go out to 6 to 10 feet of water throw the troll net over board and troll the bottom of the ocean for 6 minutes. Every fish we caught would be measured, but after twenty fish of one type you would then just count the remaining. The temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen, and a secci disk test was done at each of the four location we worked that day.

Tags: Beaver Creek, rainbow trout, brown trout, electrofishing, brook trout, oysters, blue crabs