Fish and Aquatic Conservation

In The News

photo of silver carp jumping out of the water
Silver carp jumping in the Fox River. Photo credit: Ryan Hagerty/USFWS

Creature Feature: Holy Carp!

Nancy Henderson

As fish tales go, this one is a catch: In Southeastern rivers and lakes, schools of large catfish-like bottom feeders are terrorizing anglers, boaters and skiers by leaping out of the water, sometimes 10 feet in the air, and smacking them with the force of their heavy bodies.

The strange part about this tall tale is that it’s no exaggeration, but a true story about silver carp, one of four invasive species causing major issues for native fish, other critters and folks trying to enjoy a laidback day on the water.

“You’ll see [the carp] mostly when boating traffic is in there,” says Allan Brown, assistant Southeast regional director of Fish and Aquatic Conservation for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Whether the motor in the water triggers their jumping, we don’t know. But those [videos and photos] are not photoshopped, unfortunately. … And if one of those 70-pound fish hits you, it can do some damage to you.”

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photo fishing event
Photo: "Reel"-y great volunteers and partners made the art of angling accessible during this event at Mason Lake.

Remembering #MyFirstCatch to Connect Anglers of all Abilities with Theirs

June 2019

Blogger’s note: The joy of fishing - casting a line and feeling that telltale tug - is one of life’s simple pleasures. Ensuring that everyone gets the chance to experience it, however, can be a bit more complex. The extra effort and coordination, as our staff at USFWS Washington Fish and Wildlife Office and our Puget Sound Olympic Peninsula Fisheries Complex will tell you, is always worth it. Here, our biologists Molly and Dan share how a day with future fisherman connected them to their past angling experiences during the Special Needs Kids Fishing Day at Mason Lake in Washington State.

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Congaree Creek Dam Removal

May 21, 2019

On May 21, 2019, crews successfully removed a sheet pile dam from Congaree Creek to restore the natural flow of the creek. The restoration will result in improved habitat for aquatic species, as well as removing safety hazards for boaters. This is the 12th dam to be removed in South Carolina. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources partnered with American Rivers, Congaree Riverkeeper, USFWS and the City of Cayce to work toward the goal of improving natural resources and human interactions in the area.

photo of winter run chinook salmon
Winter-Run Chinook Salmon Courtesy: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Region

Endangered Winter-Run Chinook Salmon return early, a good sign for the species

by Briona Haney | May 17th 2019

RED BLUFF, Calif. — U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service Biologists are welcoming a surprise in the Sacramento River this spring. Some of the endangered Winter-Run Chinook Salmon have returned early and it is a good sign for the future of the species.

Biologists found that at least 13 male juvenile Winter-Run Chinook Salmon have already returned after being released into Battle Creek one year ago. These fish were part of a group of 214,000 released into the river last year.

Experts say it is exciting news because the only place this species of fish exists is in the Redding area.

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photo of D.C. Booth hatchery, ice house, and rearing ponds in 1899.
D.C. Booth hatchery, ice house, and rearing ponds in 1899.

'A Day of Recognition' at DC Booth Fish Hatchery

By Kaija Swisher Black Hills Pioneer | May 18, 2019

SPEARFISH – In addition to the visitors touring the grounds, a group gathered near the historic icehouse at the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives Thursday for “A Day of Recognition.” 

Community members, families of those involved at the hatchery through the years, and representatives from the Booth Society, the nonprofit friends group that supports the hatchery; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS); and American Fisheries Society-Fish Culture Section were present, and the first order of business was to recognize the 30th anniversary of the Booth Society.

“Thank you for 30 years of partnership, support, and contribution to the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives,” Mayor Dana Boke said. “Through your guardianship … and commitment to conservation and education, you have really built a legacy that we are truly grateful for, and your ongoing diligence and servanthood has made a huge impact on our community.”

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photo of Historic Cooper Mills dam
Historic Coopers Mills dam in operation. Photo courtesy of the Whitefield Historical Society

My hometown: Charting a course for a river’s future

May 2019

Standing near the former site of the Coopers Mills dam in Maine, where the Sheepscot River narrows a bit before passing under a bridge, you’d be hard-pressed to realize the years of effort it took to remove the dam, number of people who became involved, or the many ways a river can be part of a community.

I grew up just five miles from the dam. I remember the excitement of watching river herring traverse the fish ladder, and how, each spring, fishermen would scoop up alewives returning from the sea to spawn.

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sign of the Tribal Lands Youth Conservation Project Fishing Derby
Welcome to the Tribal Lands Youth Conservation Project Fishing Derby 

Introducing Aquatic Animals to Yankton Sioux Tribal Youth

By Sam Stukel, Biologist, Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery (Yankton, SD)

Outreach and education is an important part of what we do at Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery.  Through public events, speaking engagements and hatchery tours we reach more than 4,000 people annually. This year we added an especially rewarding event to our outreach and education efforts.

The southeast corner of South Dakota has a rich history involving the Yankton Sioux Tribe.  Their connection to local wildlife goes back for centuries.  However, like many other groups, the tribe has seen participation in outdoor activities dwindle in recent years.  To reawaken that connection to the natural world, the Tribal Lands Youth Conservation Project (TLYCP) was created. They host many events each year featuring different pieces of outdoor recreation and conservation.

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photo of a young girl holding a fish
Stephanie’s daughter Isla fishes from her grandpa’s dock.

How to help a child learn to fish

by Stephanie Vatalaro | June 2019

If your kids are like mine, they’re probably counting down the days until summer vacation. But often, it seems like the moment the school year ends, the kids are already looking for something to do.

When summer boredom sets in, coming up with family-friendly pastimes that don’t add screen time can be a challenge. One great way to switch things up, though, is to learn a new outdoor activity together.

A family fishing adventure is one of my favorite antidotes to summer restlessness. Growing up in Florida, I developed a love for the water early on. Now that I’m a mom, I love getting to share the water with my daughter.

Even if you’re a first-timer, it’s easy to get the kids outdoors with a family fishing trip. Here are some great ways to get started.

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photo of a young girl holding a let's go fishing book and badge
Receiving a Junior Ranger “Let’s Go Fishing!” Program certificate and badge. Photo credit: USFWS

Adventure Is Out Your Front Door

By Larry Miller, Project Leader, Allegheny NFH, R5 | June 2019

Snow danced in a random furry as the wind blew cold and damp. However, that did not dampen the spirits of those in attendance at the Spring into Nature event hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and their Friends group, with co-hosts Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Coordination Office and the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery.

The Spring Into Nature event offers a great introductory opportunity to get kids and families outdoors. They can learn about the benefits of outdoor recreation while creating wonderful memories in the process. At this year’s event, Hatchery staff presented the Junior Ranger “Let’s Go Fishing!” program and activity booklet. The activities introduce kids and their families to fishing and encourage safe, healthy, and responsible outdoor recreation. After working through the activity booklet, youth attendees received a Certificate of Achievement and the official Junior Ranger Angler Badge.

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photo of Longear sunfish
Photo: Longear Sunfish taken by Craig Springer

Fishing Memories: We Want to Hear Yours

Denise Wagner | June 2019

Growing up in rural Oklahoma, fishing was part of life — something I took for granted and didn’t fully appreciate until many years later. One of my first fishing memories is sitting on the bank of one of our farm ponds with my dad and grandpa, watching my bobber quiver nervously on the water’s surface. I could feel the anticipation even as my grandpa whistled a little tune. The only other noises were those of cows mooing, birds singing and all the great outdoor sounds you hear living in the country.

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photo of flathead catfish
Photo: Their legendary size and strength make them the stuff of lore, much like Dracula but the fantastical flathead catfish is very real. Photo credit:

Meet the Flathead Catfish, The Pacific Northwest’s “Freshwater Freight Train”

June 2019

They are the aquatic version of Count Dracula, quietly resting in the same dark, hidden location by day and then prowling for living prey by night. And like a vampire, they are legendary for both their great physical strength and ability to achieve a ripe old age. These “freshwater freight trains” require use of fishing tackle usually seen in saltwater situations, and can live up to 30 years of age.

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photo of a woman fishing
Photo credit: Joe Milmoe/USFWS

A Guide to Fishing for the First Time

June 2019

With over 40 million people fishing each year, it can be a great way to spend time outside with family and friends. Whether you’re revisiting something you haven’t done in years or you’re wanting to try it for the first time, don’t feel overwhelmed! These basics will get you started.

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students disecting a fish
Photo: Camp Biota students aren't squeamish at all about getting a closer look during the fish dissection lesson

Mwah! A Kiss from an Ancient Fish Awakens Love for Science

By: Julia Pinnix, Visitor Services Manager, Leavenworth Fisheries Complex | May 15, 2019

What did you like best about spring break camp? Making new friends. The food. Dissecting salmon. Wait, what?

Camp Biota is a hands-on science camp for middleschoolers, hosted by Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. Eighteen students dug into dead fish as part of the curriculum, which also included a macroinvertebrate safari in Icicle Creek, investigating plants along a transect, and using chemistry to test water quality. And there were lamprey “kisses,” too, courtesy of the Yakama Nation Fisheries lamprey research and breeding program.

This is Camp Biota’s second year. Barbara Guzman of the Northcentral Educational Service District (NCESD) and I wanted to spark interest in science in our region’s migrant students. Latino students seldom see science professionals who look like them. We aimed to create a space where interest in science is shared by both women and men, by people of color, and in more than one language—a welcoming space where everyone can be at the table.

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Annual volunteer effort to clean up Anchorage waterways commences

By Casey Grove, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage | May 9, 2019

Anchorage’s citywide creek cleanup started Thursday as volunteers began picking up what – each year – amounts to hundreds of pounds of often muddy and wet trash from waterways. Organized by the Anchorage Waterways Council, the clean up aims to remove unsightly garbage and reduce negative impacts to fish, birds and other wildlife.

One of the first teams to don their waders and gloves for the 35th annual Anchorage Creek Cleanup was a group of volunteers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, led by Katrina Liebich.

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photo of stocking fish in the river

Get an underwater view of 25,000 Atlantic salmon being dumped in the Piscataquis

By John Holyoke | April 25, 2019

ABBOT, Maine — Aside from the fact that watching thousands of fish come gushing out of a tube and landing in a river is just plain cool, Wednesday’s uncommon stocking effort on the Piscataquis River was one worth noticing.

These fish weren’t brook trout, which are commonly stocked in the Piscataquis to serve local anglers who catch and eat them. They were endangered Atlantic salmon. And for the first time in six years, those salmon were being stocked far above Milford, on the main stem of the Penobscot River, to aid in federal and state restoration efforts.

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