Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Gill Net Sampling Means Gill Net Mending
Midwest Region, January 11, 2008
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Crews from Columbia NFWCO began running gill nets for pallid sturgeon on Nov. 5 as part of a basin wide effort to monitor the pallid sturgeon population in the Missouri River.  Eleven randomly selected bends on the lower Missouri River have been sampled thus far with a total of 110 net sets.  These samplings have resulted in the capture of seven pallid sturgeon, one of which was taken to Blind Pony State Hatchery to be held for propagation.  Hopefully, this will result in a future stocking in the Lower Missouri River.


With this gill net sampling comes inevitable gill net mending.  Luckily, high water and flowing ice have given our field crews a break from winter gill netting to catch up on much needed net repairs. 


Crews have used this time to clean debris and mend holes in over four miles of net.  They have also hung 660 feet of new mesh, when repairing wasn’t feasible.  For efficiency, Columbia NFWCO has refined their process of taking nets from the field to the storage shelf, either for cleaning or repair. 


In the field, each net goes from the water to a gill net basket.  If the net is damaged, it is flagged with a piece of red flagging tape.  This tape will ensure that the net is not taken back to field before it can be repaired.  The dirty and damaged nets are brought back to a heated shop, where they are rolled onto a net wheel to dry. 


Once the nets are dry, the end of each net is strung from the net wheel over a beam and into a basket.  Each net is cleaned and mended while it is being rolled off of the net wheel.  The prepared nets are then placed on storage shelves to wait for the next sampling. 


Monitoring the pallid sturgeon population accomplishes the Service’s native species conservation and management goal.  The pallid sturgeon monitoring program also provides useful data on the other species in the Missouri River. 


Cliff Wilson

Contact Info: Cliff Wilson, (573) 234-2132 ext. 173, cliff_wilson@fws.gov
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