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Fifty-thousand Feet of Fish and Fun
Midwest Region, February 29, 2012
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During February, Columbia FWCO completed standard gillnetting for the 2012 field season of the Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Project on the Missouri River. Crews deployed 50,000 feet (9.5 miles) of gillnet from November through February. The results were both surprising and promising.

We collected 31 pallid sturgeon in gillnets this year, the highest yearly total ever for our office. In fact, this year’s pallid sturgeon total was more than double the number we collected in any previous year with gill nets. Of special interest was the relatively high number of large pallid sturgeon (greater than 30 inches), and the high number of untagged, potentially wild (pending genetic results) pallid sturgeon. Most pallid sturgeon we collected appeared to be rather plump and in good condition. Three large pallid sturgeon were transported to Neosho National Fish Hatchery as potential broodstock fish for the stocking program.

 

Shovelnose sturgeon continued to be the most common species in our gillnet samples. Large blue catfish were frequently caught, with some individuals surpassing 50-pounds. Blue sucker and sauger were also present in good numbers. Unfortunately, Asian carp were commonly collected in gillnets in 2012. A few species rare to lower portions of the Missouri River were also caught; these included a rainbow trout, a northern pike, and a white perch.

The 2012 season represent the first gillnet dataset we have following the prolonged flooding of the Missouri River during 2001. It will be interesting to compare this year’s data with previous years to see if we can detect any differences in relative abundance or condition of Missouri River fish.

 

Contact Info: Colby Wrasse, 573-234-2132 x30, colby_wrasse@fws.gov



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