Efforts at the Fish Evaluation Station (FES) came to an end early September. There was a large decline in the amount of suckers observed in week 4. This is due to a peak in entrainment that may have occurred earlier than expected based on historical data. I spent the next two weeks monitoring fish ponds at the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and setting trap nets in Tule Lake. At the ponds we were measuring water quality, conducting predator surveys, and setting minnow and crab traps out in the channel. It was fun to take the jon boat out on the big pond, but we did not catch much. We caught a few Sacramento Perch (Archoplites interruptus) and Fathead Minnows (Pimephales promelas). These fish were measured, weighed, and visual implant elastomer (VIE) tagged. There were a lot of signs (scat and tracks) that coyotes occupy the area surrounding the ponds. We also saw Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis)! They are such beautiful birds.
WE CAUGHT A SUCKER IN TULE LAKE! This is the first adult sucker I have seen here so far. It is also the first sucker we caught in the trap nets at Tule Lake. Josh believes it could be a Klamath largescale sucker (Catostomus snyderi), but it is hard to know for sure. The Klamath largescale sucker is closely related to two other species of suckers, especially the shortnose sucker (Chasmistes brevirostris). Hybridization can occur, so it is possible that the sucker we caught could be a hybrid. We took measurements and checked it for a PIT tag. No tag was found, but sometimes PIT tags that were not inserted correctly can fall out over time, usually resulting in a scar. No scar was found on this sucker. Next week, we set more traps. We did not have any luck catching other suckers. The mud boat was acting up again, so Josh decided to stop efforts of trapping on Tule Lake.
On September 14th, we went to our net pens in Pelican Bay to check on the suckers from the FES. Unfortunately, none of the suckers in the floating cages survived. On October 2nd, the floating cage located in the Link Dam Canal was removed. 1 out of the 3 stocked fish was alive. This sucker was released. This past Thursday we went to release the suckers we caught as larvae from the net pens. It was exciting! We removed 21 suckers. They all looked healthy. We PIT tagged them and released them in nearby vegetation. It was rewarding to see them school together and swim away.
Nolan, a fish biologist here at the Klamath Falls USFWS, had us help survey Threemile Creek for fish. This area is known to have endangered Bull Trout (Salvelinus confluentus). Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust is planning to restore the stream this week. Wood will be added into the stream to level it out and create better fish habitat. We set up block nets so no fish can enter the area they plan to add the wood into. We walked downstream electrofishing areas that looked habitable. We did not turn over any fish.
Alia and I are finishing up labeling and entering data for the old specimens of suckers. They will be X-rayed to determine vertebral counts for each species. These suckers are various sizes and have been sampled from numerous habitats. We are also finishing up our final projects. Mine focuses on the pilot sucker rearing project we established at the FES. I recently wrote a USFWS Field Note about the pilot project.
I can’t believe I only have a month left!
Till next time,