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Crooked River Fish Survey a Bit Shocking

Published On: Jun 22 2012 08:29:35 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 22 2012 08:39:17 AM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Matt McDonald accompanies ODFW biologists on the Crooked River, as the use electrofishing to measure, tag fish and survey populations

PRINEVILLE, Ore. -

How do you catch a lot of fish in a hurry? You use a little electricity.

"Basically, it just puts an electrical current out in the water, which stuns the fish temporarily so we're able to net them," explained Tim Porter a fish biologist from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Long-spider like arms stick out from a pontoon boat as several ODFW employees slide the craft in the water at Big Bend Campground on the Crooked River. The arms send a mild electrical current through the water.

?The whitefish -- they just explode on the surface. They start jumping out of the water," says Porter.

Mountain white fish and redband trout are collected. They're measured, weighed, sometimes tagged, then passed on to a bucket brigade of volunteers.

"We're going to empty these fish that have been tagged and measured where they've already sampled, so that they won't get recaptured or marked in the next sample," said Bill Seitz a volunteer.

After last year's survey, biologists estimated there were just over 1,200 trout per mile in the river. This year?

"We've been seeing a lot of trout," said Porter.

With some data crunching left to do, the estimate for this year is still weeks away.

The annual study helps with planning and protection efforts -- and this year, something new.

"They're also doing some research about salmon and steelhead fry," said Nancy Kastner, another volunteer.

Salmon and steelhead have been reintroduced to river, part of a larger effort to restore those runs.

Not every fish survives the journey from zap to bucket. But biologists say few are killed, and thus far, it appears the catch this year is better than average.

If you catch a fish that has one of the small radio tracking tags sticking out of its back, note the color of the tag and its number. ODFW ( 541-447-5111 ext. 24 ) will also want to know how big the fish was and where you caught it.

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