SPOKANE-A flotilla of fish biologists will be on the Pend Oreille River from Newport to Metaline Falls day and night the week of May 10-14 to learn more about the waterway's fish populations.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the Kalispell Tribe of Indians' Fisheries Department and Eastern Washington University's Fisheries Program are joining forces in assessin fish populations in Box Canyon Reservoir, the 55-mile stretch of the river between Albeni Falls Dam near Newport and Box Canyon Dam near Metaline Falls.
The survey will focus on so-called "warm water" fish species-including largemouth bass and carppie-that thrive in the relatively warm, shallow water of the reservoir.
"The survey will assess the status of those populations and help us in developing long-term fish monitoring protocols," explained Marc Divens of Spokane, WDFW warmwater fish biologist and project lead.
Divens said that residents along the river can expect to see research boats day and night throughout the week. At night, bright lights will be visible moving along the shoreline as research boats collect fish for the survey.
Eight survey crews in research boats will collect fish using electro-shocking, gill nets and fyke netting. Electro-shocking temporarily stuns fish in shallow water with electrical charges so they can be scooped up with nets; this method is most efficient at night when fish tend to move closer to shore into shallow water. Gill nets are set up across fish movement areas to hold fish until they are removed for data collection. Funnel-sahped fyke nets are used to direct fish into a temporary trap.
The collected fish will be weighed and measured and collected data will be analyzed to help determine species composition, relative fish densities and fish condition. Scale samples will be collected to determine growth rates. The majority of fish sampled will be returned to the river unharmed.