Home
Field Notes
 
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
The Missouri River Spa
Midwest Region, February 9, 2009
Print Friendly Version
Technician Adam McDaniel releases a pallid sturgeon back into the Missouri River.
Technician Adam McDaniel releases a pallid sturgeon back into the Missouri River. - Photo Credit: n/a
Technician Chris McLeland and volunteer Marie Delatour deploy trotlines at sunset on the Missouri River.
Technician Chris McLeland and volunteer Marie Delatour deploy trotlines at sunset on the Missouri River. - Photo Credit: n/a

After a particularly raw day of sampling on the Missouri River, I sat on my couch staring at the TV. My face was stinging from being sandblasted with sleet and snow pellets and a 40 mph northwest wind.  I was watching, in disbelief, a commercial for a spa touting facial dermabrasion. “You have got to be kidding me!” I exclaimed.  “I just got paid to do this to my face and it feels miserable - there is absolutely NO way I would pay someone to do it to me!” In a nutshell, the fall/winter weather was rather unrelenting for Columbia NFWCO crews sampling on the Missouri River.

Coupled with our standard sampling for the Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Program (PSA), we have been systematically sampling two segments of the lower Missouri River with trotlines.  We are evaluating the effectiveness of trotlines for catching sturgeon, particularly the federally endangered pallid sturgeon. River segments defined by the PSA program have been subdivided into “reaches.”  In general, each reach encompasses roughly 20 miles (approximately 8 bends) that are sampled from downstream to upstream within a week. This design addresses the potential for baited hooks acting as an attractant and allows crews to more efficiently sample stretches of river. Based on pallid sturgeon trotline catch in 2008, a model was developed to predict the number of hooks necessary for detecting a pallid sturgeon in a bend. The model predicted 14 hooks per tenth of river mile were needed to have an 80% chance of catching a pallid sturgeon. We intend to test this prediction by sampling 250 river miles, from the confluence with the Mississippi to the Grand River, during the 2009 sample year. 

All complaining about the weather aside, our trotline catches have been phenomenal. To date, we have sampled 4 reaches (29 bends) of Segments 13 & 14. That equates to 10,156 hooks and 72 miles of river sampled. Besides the hundreds of shovelnose sturgeon, we have captured 35 lake sturgeon, 8 suspected hybrid (pallid x shovelnose) sturgeon, and 48 pallid sturgeon. Thus far, we have sent 5 of those pallid sturgeon to the hatchery as potential broodstock fish. We have captured wild fish from each reach and have also detected some interesting dispersal patterns for both shovelnose and pallid sturgeon. Fish have rarely been recaptured within a reach during the sampling time frame, downplaying some of the concern for attractant bias. Thus far, we have been able to detect at least one pallid in 83% of our bends. On average we are catching one pallid sturgeon for every 211 hooks deployed. As time has permitted, and there has been precious little, we have deployed trotlines in addition to our standardized effort.  This extra effort had yielded 34 lake sturgeon (69 total), 3 hybrid sturgeon (11 total) and 2 pallid sturgeon (50 total). Development of gears to detect, monitor and collect pallid sturgeon allows us to meet our Aquatic Species Conservation and Management objective of recovering fish and other aquatic resource populations protected under the Endangered Species Act. 


Contact Info: Patricia Herman, 573-234-2132 x170, Patricia_Herman@fws.gov



Send to:
From:

Notes:
Find a Field Notes Entry

Search by keyword

Search by State




Search by Region


US Fish and Wildlife Service footer