I actually escaped the office a week or so ago and helped with some field work! I got to smell fishy again!
Mostly I just want to show you some pictures of the fish we were sampling, flathead catfish at Branched Oak Reservoir. However, I realize there might be some who read this and want more information, so let me recommend a previous blog if you want to know why we were doing this sampling: Branched Oak Flatheads.
Once again let me start by saying that when pointy-headed fisheries biologists are sampling fish from a population, we typically are NOT just trying to collect the largest specimens. We ARE usually trying to collect a representative sample of the variety of sizes of fish in a population. When we sample flathead catfish at Branched Oak Reservoir, we literally collect fish from 6 inches long to 60 pounds. At Branched Oak we see lots of flatheads from 20-some inches long to 30-some inches long; we collect so many of those fish that they are hardly noticed. We handle those fish and release them as quickly as possible. No, I do not have many photos of the average size fish. However, I like some pictures of the smallest flatheads because they are so colorful:
Of course we all like big fish, so I have some photos of the 30+ pounders that my boat partners and I handled on this most recent trip.
Now you can see why I smelled fishy at the end of the day. Any day I smell fishy is a good day!
It also happened to be one of the hottest days of the year, and we handled hundreds of pounds of flatheads that day. It was a workout, we sweated, we guzzled water to stay hydrated!
I was not able to slip out with the guys a day or so later when they went to Pawnee Reservoir and did some of the same sampling. We have a very good flathead catfish population at Pawnee too, and an up-and-coming blue catfish population!
All of those fish were released unharmed, they are swimming out there, and I told you where. I will be getting a few of them to bite in the coming weeks.
The boat driver when I went along was Jordan Katt and I have to thank him for the photos. I was busy netting and handling fish. Thanks, Jordan!
But not so much for this one!
Although I do like cats, big flatheaded ones in particular!