Last week I got to do one of the favorite things in my job. I got to go electro-fishing. The Kennebecasis Watershed Restoration Committee is partnered with the Canadian Rivers Institute to do a riparian health modeling project. Part of this project is using sculpin presence as an indicator of riparian health and water quality conditions.
Electro-fishing is a method in which field staff collect fish population data. An electric pulse is sent through the water which, in a manner of speaking, forces the fish to swim towards the pulse where they can be netted. It has very little effect on the fish, if done properly, and once counts and measures have been completed the fish are released back into the stream. A crew of 3-6 can effeciently complete a population survey on a typical stream.
What is interesting about electro fishing this time of year is the water temperature. The air is cold and steam is usually lifting off the water while ice gently laps against overhanging branches and the shoreline. The ice formations hanging off the branches are like winter bells waiting for Christmas before they ring. But if a bell rings in the water, does any body hear it. Another cool thing about electro fishing this time of year is to see how many fish are actually still in the rivers and brooks. Trout, dace, sculpin, stickleback, were all caught last week and safely returned to their habitat. Some streams, which you might think would have no fish on a good day, surprise you with fish while others you think should have fish, don't.
Of course when you are on a river it is hard not to press around the next corner to see what is there. I think every site we fished, once we completed our site, I would head upstream to snap some pictures. We live in a great place full of natural scenery which many don't get to enjoy or even know exist. I get to find and see these places and that is just another reason why I love my job.