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DWR Smith River Sample 7-14-20

Started by Al, July 18, 2020, 08:39:04 AM

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Al

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) conducted a raft sampling of the Smith River from the Bassett Canoe Ramp (Trent Hill) to the Fieldale Bridge on 7-14-20.  As an active member of the DWR Complementary Work Force I was invited to participate as part of the "fish work up crew".  Two weeks ago during a similar sampling, I rode in rear of a Smith River TU member's raft. This time I opted for a more exciting ride via a DWR provided kayak.
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The lead DWR biologist starts each day's sampling with what to expect on that specific section of river, what to collect or ignore, when and where to pull over if the collection cooler was full of fish or the fish were appearing stressed and of course a safety briefing. Due to the pandemic we were cautioned to wear masks when social distancing was not possible.
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Off we go with the sampling or "shocking raft" in the lead followed by two canoes holding equipment and work up crews - plus an old man trying not to tip his kayak over.
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It didn't take long to fill the large aerated fish holding cooler - normally they might have added a few more but with the warm water temperatures no one wanted to over-stress the fish.  Its a team effort getting everything set up.
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Every fish collected is identified, measured, weighed and checked for general health. Once this is done they are released back into the river and most likely finning back to their old holding spot within a day or so.
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All that data is recorded for later entry into a computer program which identifies trends from previous years. DWR uses this data to help make management decisions.
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And so it goes all day long. This particular section was a long one.
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The crew on the sampling raft rotate every other cooler full  because the rower and dipper must be on their "toes" all the time. It looks easy until you try it.  Check out the long handle on the dip net. If you are not careful you will end up "bonking" the rower along side the head. Better watch out if  he is dipping and you're rowing next time around.
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This particular section alternates between smooth runs and some "oh-oh" rapids. Not too bad if you stay alert. 
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One spot right below Hwy 220 Bridge has a significant drop. I let everyone go first so they could be down below to fish me out just in case.
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They all turned around and watched but old Al made it with only a little water splashing over him.
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We not only collected a lot of fish but we also collected some nice fish. I have been helping annually for better than 20 years and can see a big improvement in the size of the browns. We used to collect hundreds of little fish. Today there may not be as many but the quality is much better. The brown trout  are not only longer but most of them look like they have been eating well.  There are still lots of stocked rainbows in the river. A few years ago when we collected a rainbow that had been in the river for any length of time they were all skinny - that is no longer the case.
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I had a few more photos to add but the program says I've exceeded my limit b';

It was a long day on the water. My hats off to these folks who do this day in and day out. It may look like fun but it is also hard work. It is also a young man's game. Some of the ramps are not conducive to easy access. My status as an official CWF volunteer is covered by workman's comp but I know when to stand back and let the professionals do the work.

The plan is to finish the Smith River sampling in the fall with a two day sample below the Martinsville Dam when the water  temperatures are a little cooler.  All the data will be analyzed and put into a report which will be presented as a "Health of the Smith River Fishery" report to the Smith River Trout Unlimited (SRTU)  meeting on December 3, 2020.




Woolly Bugger

shocking up some toads!  -+;

nice report al... I hope there isn't a fish kill during the upcoming low flow
ex - I'm not going to live with you through one more fishing season!

me -There's a season?

Pastor explains icons to my son: you know like the fish symbol on the back of cars.

My son: My dad has two fish on his car and they're both trout!

Dougfish

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change? " <br />-Oddball, 1970

"I don't wanna go to hell,
But if I do,
It'll be 'cause of you..."
Strange Desire, The Black Keys, 2006

troutrus

Good job Al.

Couple more niceuns you had in your email.

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Stone-Man

Good stuff,Al=== thanks for doing this work. And thanks for the good flicks


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