Over the next three days, we are catching, radio-tagging and releasing wild brook trout living in Shu Swamp. The plan is to compare their movements and habitat preferences to the hatchery-reared brook trout. The tags we are using can last 5 – 6 months so we may even see evidence of spawning if we are really lucky. Over the summer we hope to tag and release 10 wild trout. We just received our first batch of 5 tags and today we set out to catch 5 wild trout to take back to the Hofstra Animal Lab for a short stay: swim performance tests, tagging and then release, all within the next 48 hours. Sounds like a fun weekend at the health spa doesn’t it?
Maryanne, Brian, and I met up with Steve DeSimone, CSHFH director and operator of the backpack electrofisher you see here.
We immediately startied catching fish. The problem was they were the hatchery fish we released last month. We knew because we checked them with our portable PIT-tag reader which allowed us to identify each individual. All in all we caught and released six of the 28 we had released. Three of these had been detected before at the PIT-tag antenna downstream at the railroad bridge entering Beaver Lake, and one had been detected at the spillway antenna a mile away just 5 days ago!
Fortunately things started to pick up. All in all we managed to catch 4 wild trout, one short of our goal, before we ran out of stream to fish (we reached Frost Mill Road Dam). Three of the trout had PIT-tags attached at the previous electrofishing event back in early March and one was newbie.
Along the way we also caught some other critters including some spiny-cheeked crayfish:
And a few YOY brook trout including this beauty (be sure to compare its size to the one shown at the March survey link.
We lso had a surprise visit from about 30 students from Pasadena Elementary School in Plainview who were there to release the fingerlings they had raised through the TITC program. They got to see the brook trout we had caught as well as the crayfish featured above. The adults we had caught might very well have had their origin a few years ago in a Long Island TITC classroom maybe even their own! I think they were really excited to think that maybe their “babies” might one day reach adulthood in its native habitat. As part of the TITC experience, participating classrooms visit CSHFH in November to learn about brook trout and see the egg fertilization process. Their visit was featured on Long Island News .
The four “keepers” were transported in coolers and now reside in the animal facility at Hofstra. Here is one that is about 10″ and a 1/2 pound:
Tomorrow they all go for a swim and a quick surgical procedure. Stay tuned!