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Brett Prettyman
Brett Prettyman writes about the outdoors, recreation and fishing for The Salt Lake Tribune

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Electroshocking fish survey on the Green River turns up plump trout and plenty of bugs - with video

I'm so bummed I missed the annual spring electrofishing survey on the Green River below Flaming Gorge this week. It is one of my favorite events of the year.

Thankfully, Matt McKell, a fisheries biologist with the UDWR's Flaming Gorge/Green River Project, sent in this report. The video was taken in the fall of 2010 as the survey takes place twice a year. Matt will send another report on the second night of shocking from Little Hole. Here's his report.

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Green River Electrofishing Report, Part 1 – Clouds of midges and lots of trout

Last night was just about right for a Spring survey on the Green River, not much wind, no rain, partly cloudy aloft, mostly cloudy right above the river, and not the kind that brings rain. No, these were clouds of winged critters, mostly midges. So thick at times, breathing deeply was done at the peril of inhaling one (or a handful!) of the little fellers. Midges and all, we made it through Night 1 just fine...at least they weren’t mosquitoes!

It was a little longer night than we’ve had in the recent past, but not because of equipment issues like we had during the last couple surveys, but because there were so many fish to handle. As usual, we conducted our first night of survey at Tailrace, the mile-long site just below Flaming Gorge Dam. Our total catch was 681 fish, including 443 rainbows, 236 browns, and a couple whitefish. Our PIT tag recapture rate was around 19%, fairly similar to what we normally see. The big fish of the night was a rainbow trout that stretched the measuring stick to nearly 22 inches, while the longest brown was just under 19 inches. But the heaviest trout was a brown that weighed 2.5 lbs at just 17 inches--now that’s a healthy fish! Overall, the fish were in pretty good condition (see pics), especially the rainbows, most of them nice and plump. The river's bug populations seem to have really benefited by the prolonged high flows last spring/summer. In fact, there have been reports that hatches this spring have been of far greater magnitude than any other spring in recent memory, including abundant hatches of midges, mayflies, and stoneflies. And healthy bug populations are, of course, good for the fish.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

As in the past, we had a lot of help with this survey and express our thanks to all who come out to assist in this important effort. We couldn’t do it without you!


Ian Kennedy, UDWR technician, holding a rainbow trout from the Tailrace survey station on the Green River.

Kevin Clegg, of Flaming Gorge Resort, holds a brown trout from the Tailrace survey station on the Green River.

Crews collect fish data as bugs swarm flood lamps nearby (though this photo doesn't adequately portray the buggy situation!).

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