Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
A Lesson in Trawling the Big Muddy
Midwest Region, April 15, 2007
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Columiba FRO trawling on the Missouri River.
- FWS photo
Columiba FRO trawling on the Missouri River.

- FWS photo

- Photo Credit: n/a

During the month of April, biologist Andy Plauck presented on the water lessons in the art and science of stern trawling.  The impromptu class consisted of four students; Patty Herman, Emily Kunz, Brett Witte, and Colby Wrasse.  These new Columbia FRO employees had only limited experience with stern trawling, but they were eager to learn.


Stern trawling on the Missouri River, with its swift current and snag laden substrate, is a challenging endeavor requiring specialized skills, experience, and equipment.  Plauck stressed the importance of safety along with the need to follow standardized sampling protocols. 


Students were shown the proper methods for deploying and retrieving the trawl net, operating the hydraulic winches, and driving the large trawl boat.  By the end of the training session the new employees had the opportunity to experience the various duties of a trawling crew. 


Although a great deal was learned, cross-training of all the new employees was not feasible during the short 3-day training session.  Training on stern trawling will continue throughout the year, since even seasoned “river rats” learn something new every day on the water.


Stern trawling is an important research technique on the Missouri River because it allows scientists to sample areas that would be difficult or impossible to sample with other gears.  Stern trawling has proven to be effective in capturing a wide variety of riverine fish species including pallid and shovelnose sturgeon. 


Columbia FRO continues to be leaders in experimental trawl design, and the office is continually striving to perfect existing trawl techniques while experimenting with new trawling methods. 

Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov
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