Game & Fish Conduct Population Study

Casper, Wyoming - Wyoming  Game & Fish, sparking things up along the North Platte River. All in a day's work as they conduct a survey on fish population. That jolt of electricity, a mild jolt, gets the fish relaxed enough so they can be counted and weighed all near Morad Park today. It's a process that can get slippery.

Game & Fish broke the surface of the Platt River Friday morning to begin their survey on trout, but before they could energize the water, they hit a slight problem that put their population study on ice.

“In order to get up this riffle area right here, we need to be up on a plane. And right now there's just too much weight in the boat,” said Matt Hahn, a biologist with the Casper region of Game & Fish. “We don't have enough horsepower to get it up and over that hump.”

But after about a half hour of tinkering, the study went swimmingly.

“Jet boats operate differently than a propeller driven boat in that it has an impeller that forces water through a cone to create a high velocity jet. When you start to pull sand and gravel into that, it erodes the gap, makes it a little bit wider, you lose your velocity so you can't go up on a plane as fast. We were just re-shimming it to bring it back into tolerance so we can get the velocity,” said  Jeff Glaid another Game & Fish biologist.

Game & Fish traveling the same stretch of the river several times electrofishing to get an accurate sample size of the population.

“It lets us look at year class strengths, how many age one fish, how many age two fish. It lets us look at condition factor, how healthy the fish are it also lets us look at what we call a Biomass Indecency which is the pounds of fish per mile,” said Hahn.

Each run taking about 9 minutes; the data collecting can run longer. Game & Fish tell us none of the trout are harmed in the process.

Each fish was measured, weighed and then placed in a collection net to ensure they don't catch the same fish twice.

“A couple weeks ago we did population estimates up stream, between here and Robinson Road where the river hasn't been reworked. So we'll be able to compare the fish population here in the restored reach with the up stream in the unrestored reach,” said Hahn.

Once the data is collected, the fish are returned to their home in the North Platte. The idea to get a snapshot of how healthy the river is.

“Through here looks great. Really really good right now. The fish seem to be in really great condition,” said Hahn. “We're seeing a lot of smaller fish, a lot of bigger fish as well. We've just got a nice mix of age classes which is what we like to see.”

The results should be released in a few weeks, but for now Game & Fish officials are happy with what they see.