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After Action Report - Smith River Sampling 28-30 July 09

Started by Al, July 31, 2009, 13:55:39 PM

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Al

July 31, 2009, 13:55:39 PM Last Edit: July 31, 2009, 14:43:18 PM by Woolly Bugger


On July 28-30, 2009 several Smith River TU members and a few visitors from out of state assembled along the bank of the Smith River, which runs through the Bassett, Fieldale and Martinsville area, to assist and observe the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries shock sample the trout holding sections of the river. The DGIF brought in a crew of about twenty biologists for this annual event. I did not stay with them the entire time but think they ended up sampling 7-9 sites total. Each site was about a 100 yard stretch of easily accessible water.

This is the first site which is at the end of the field behind the Mirror Factory. They set up the processing station at the top of the run then everyone walks downstream to a predetermined spot, line up across the stream and the fun begins. I had arrived early and fished this same section. I was pretty pleased with myself having caught 5 fish. We will see how many I missed.


Generators, which are on small barges being pulled by a strong biologist, are putting out some low voltage and everyone slowly moves upstream. Doubtful many fish will be able to elude this bunch. Everything gets scooped up. Trout, forage fish and crawfish all get counted, weighed and measured. This data will be analyzed and factored in to help make sound biological judgments about the health of the fishery.


So much for my fishing ability. I left at least 400 in this short stretch. Some were real nice ones. I helped during the VA Tech study where we saw a lot of small fish. It may just be my eyes, but I think the fish are getting larger. We still saw a lot of small fish but we also saw a lot that were over the 12 inch mark which was a monster back during the VA Tech study. However, they are still not growing to their potential, I don't think any at this site were over 15 inches.

Many of us cringe at the sight of a dead trout but Scott Smith, the regional biologist once told me, "don't fall in love with an individual fish, fall in love with the fishery".  A few at each site were sacrificed for the good of the fishery. Their ear bones were extracted for study back at the laboratory where the lady biologist with the white wide brimmed hat in the previous photo places them under a microscope where they show growth rings similar to the rings on a tree. I was told that the science is so exact that they can see periods of stress which coincide with abrupt swings in water temperature, i.e. during generation.


And so it went for three days. They sampled up near the dam in the mornings before the generation surge forced them off the water. In the afternoons they hit one or two sites down river. Here they are just downstream of Stanleytown Bridge.


Some of you may remember the "bottle cap trout" I caught several weeks ago. Turns out it was not that unusual. One of the DGIF crew told me they shock up at least one a week. Here is one from the Stanleytown Bridge site. (Another good reason to properly dispose of your trash)


Lots of fish at every site. I don't have the exact numbers but I would estimate each site yielded at least 200 and I was told one site where I was not present had 800. Not a lot of forage fish although the further away from the dam we went the more forage fish showed up. We did see a lot of fingerling brown trout, most of whom will end up being food for larger fish. We did not shock up as many stocked rainbows as I had expected. Some sites had a handful and some had none.


Here is a nice one. Most of us would call him at least 17 inches but when he was placed on the measuring board he was just a little over 15. We didn't see many that were better then that.


It was a great opportunity to see what the Smith River fishery is all about. We all appreciated the DGIF's invitation to participate. It was obvious the biologists love their job and have the best interest of the fishery at heart. It was also obvious there is no shortage of trout. Given the shortage of forage fish it may be that there are too many trout for each of them to reach their growth potential.  Once they crunch the numbers from this sampling they may recommend changes to the way the fishery is presently managed.




WRector

Nice Report on the festivities Al!  Keep up the good work  0--0
There's a big difference between a dry fly dancing through
a riffle and a weighted fur ball dragging on the bottom.

Woolly Bugger

good stuff Al, work came up and got in the way of me being up there this year...

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!

Z-Man

thanks for the report, Al.  For those of us unable to attend, your report was the education we needed....at least I did.  There's more in there that you see........
Z-Man

In the great outdoors your soul expands to the horizon!

5xTippett

I talked to Scott this afternoon and he gave me some more information on the shocking.  I called Al and got his permission to post what he said on this thread.  Scott said they haven't crunched the numbers yet, but they shocked at least as many as last year, if not a few more.  I asked him how he wanted me to fish it this year and he told me basically what he told me last year.  Keep the ones that bleed or hooked in the gills, because they will die anyway.  Also, he really wants us all to keep a few between 8 and 10 inches.  He said there were way too many 8 to 10 inchers in that river for the amount of food.  We covered all this in a post a month or so ago.  Shane explained it as well as anybody with his aquarium analogy.  Scott thinks if we can reduce the number of 8 to 10 inchers it will allow a few more to reach 12 inches and better.  When they reach 12 inches they start feeding on the forage fish that are available and their natural mortality decreases. I hardly ever keep a brown unless he is bleeding, but I am going to have to keep a couple every now and then this year.  You did a great job, Al.

Al

Quote from: 5xTippett on July 31, 2009, 22:34:34 PM
I talked to Scott this afternoon and he gave me some more information on the shocking.  I called Al and got his permission to post what he said on this thread.  Scott said they haven't crunched the numbers yet, but they shocked at least as many as last year, if not a few more.  I asked him how he wanted me to fish it this year and he told me basically what he told me last year.  Keep the ones that bleed or hooked in the gills, because they will die anyway.  Also, he really wants us all to keep a few between 8 and 10 inches.  He said there were way too many 8 to 10 inchers in that river for the amount of food.  We covered all this in a post a month or so ago.  Shane explained it as well as anybody with his aquarium analogy.  Scott thinks if we can reduce the number of 8 to 10 inchers it will allow a few more to reach 12 inches and better.  When they reach 12 inches they start feeding on the forage fish that are available and their natural mortality decreases. I hardly ever keep a brown unless he is bleeding, but I am going to have to keep a couple every now and then this year.  You did a great job, Al.

We ate some of the ones that gave up the ghost in the name of science last evening. - Everyone who helped with the shocking was offered a bag of fish if they wanted one - Those that didn't go home with us were placed on ice and one of the biologists took them for a group home) - Those we ate last night were very good. Meat holds together much better then stocked fish which are feed a pellet diet.

rjs123

With Scott advising to keep some of the 8-10 inch fish will they be thinking about changing the size limit in the Special Regs?  Also what about all the rainbows that go up into the special regs and compete with the browns for food.  Why not let people keep them if they want to? 

Al

Quote from: rjs123 on August 12, 2009, 22:19:25 PM
With Scott advising to keep some of the 8-10 inch fish will they be thinking about changing the size limit in the Special Regs?  Also what about all the rainbows that go up into the special regs and compete with the browns for food.  Why not let people keep them if they want to?

All of those considerations are on the table. First they are going to crunch the latest numbers and then come up with a biologically supported recommendation. DGIF Biologist Scott Smith will be addressing that when he comes to the SRTU meeting in December as our guest speaker.

No matter what the recommendation is, it will have to go through the public input process before it goes to the legislature. Earliest any changes could take place would be January 2012.

troutrus

If an angler doesn't want to clean/eat the fish, would it be beneficial to merely kill a bunch to improve the fishery?

Woolly Bugger

Quote from: troutrus on August 13, 2009, 16:29:17 PM
If an angler doesn't want to clean/eat the fish, would it be beneficial to merely kill a bunch to improve the fishery?

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!

22midge

good move woolly --why not kill a stupid ass that would even say something so stupid.
never let a day go by without telling your children how special they are----make a child smile today and gain a friend for life

troutrus

August 13, 2009, 19:09:14 PM #11 Last Edit: August 13, 2009, 19:12:42 PM by troutrus
Quote from: 22midge on August 13, 2009, 18:30:32 PM
good move woolly --why not kill a stupid ass that would even say something so stupid.

Wow, you are really mean.  :j

Not sure why this would be construed as trolling or stupid. If removing some of the smaller trout is beneficial to the fishery, what difference does it make if you eat them or not?

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