David G Brown, Student Technican
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Posted on July 22, 2011 | Permalink
Location: Savage River, Hoopers Island
This was a very diverse week for me working as a Student Technical Assistant for the Fisheries Department. My week started out in western Maryland working with Fisheries Biologist Alan Klotz electrofishing for trout and ended at Hoopers Island working with Fisheries Biologist Jeff Horne measuring and weighing Rockfish. I got to work with species from two different environments and got some more experience.
From the 18th to the 20th, me and two other students took a trip out to western Maryland to assist Fisheries Biologist Alan Klotz and other biologists as they were doing their annual trout population survey on the Savage River. We began working at around 9 oíclock in the morning electrofishing and only worked for about three hours or so a day. We only worked for a few hours each day because they had to lessen the flow of water from the dam for us so we could catch the trout easier - water would be shallower for us to walk in. We electrofished three sample areas (one a day) and made three passes to make sure we got the majority of the trout out of the area. I got the opportunity to net the fish for a little while and I caught a couple but I ended up volunteering myself to hold the bucket. This survey was a little different than the other ones Iíve been on. It was different because we were keeping all the trout we caught, not just one species of trout. We ended up catching all three species of trout found in Maryland in this one river, rainbow, brook, and brown. We mostly caught brown trout though. After we had done our three passes of the sample area, the biologists weighed and measured the fish and checked them for injuries. I asked the biologists how this year compared to last year in retrospect to how many fish were caught and I was told that they caught more fish the year before. They told me that the reason why there was a decline in the population was because they had to open up the dam and flood the river which killed a lot of baby trout. And they said that the trout havenít had a good year for breeding in a few years. This trip was very educational for me and I got some more experience which is always good.
On Thursday the 21st, I got to accompany Fisheries biologist Jeff Horne with measuring, weighing, and taking scale samples from the Rockfish that the waterman brought in to the packing house on Hooperís Island. I got to measure the fish and take the scale samples. Iíve measured and taken scale samples from rockfish before but it was easier this time because the fish werenít alive so we were able to speed through it. When we measure the Rockfish, we measure them in millimeters and the scale samples are taking from the fishís back by scraping them off with a knife right below the dorsal fin. We had to take the scale samples so the fish could be aged. I additionally had to check the fish for injuries or abnormalities like diseases. The abnormalities we found on the fish included red marks and nasty looking lesions that were caused by bacterial infections. There were also some fish found with cataracts which was probably caused by an injury to the eye of the fish. We measured and weighed over two hundred fish that day and it only took us a couple of hours. It was a good day and a good end to the week.