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Rainy Day Pallid Sturgeon
Midwest Region, October 1, 2009
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Andy Plauck and Patty Herman set a mini-fyke net as part of standard sampling on the Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Project.
Andy Plauck and Patty Herman set a mini-fyke net as part of standard sampling on the Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Project. - Photo Credit: n/a
Cliff Wilson and Andy Plauck pull in a trammel net loaded with fish - 71 to be exact.
Cliff Wilson and Andy Plauck pull in a trammel net loaded with fish - 71 to be exact. - Photo Credit: n/a

Fish community season 2009 quietly drew to a close in high water.  Chock it up to global climate change or El Niño, either way 2009 proved to be a challenging year for crews working on the lower Missouri River.  To say that 2009 was a “wet year” is an understatement.  National Weather Service records dating back to 1870 indicate that the average rainfall total for the period July – October is 12.33 inches for St. Louis.  This summer the rainfall total for that same time period was 23.54 inches!  Just in the month of October, St. Charles, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis on the Missouri River, received a record 14.71 inches of rain.  Needless to say, the river was high, moving fast and debris laden – not exactly conducive to catching fish or safe for crews to be navigating. 

Twenty-five randomly selected bends from the lower 250 miles of the Missouri River are sampled with a suite of gears from July through October.  The gears include:  otter trawls, trammel nets and mini-fyke nets.  Unfortunately, we had to admit defeat; there was one bend that we weren’t able to complete – score another one for The Big Muddy.  The bend at the confluence of the Mississippi River was not able to be sampled with mini-fyke nets or trammel nets because of the high water levels and swift current.

Despite not finishing our last bend, four pallid sturgeon and a possible hybrid sturgeon were caught in 200 trammel net drifts.  The hard work and long hours spent by crew members demonstrated their dedication to restoring pallid sturgeon populations.  For STEP students Madeline Pletta and Johnathon Spurgeon, this was their first opportunity to examine this federally endangered fish.  A feat for which they were awarded pallid “coins”.  For Aaron Walker, his first trammel net deployment (as the boat driver) resulted in a pallid sturgeon capture.  As tradition holds, he now owes the crew a trip to the ice cream shop!


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



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