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Fox River juvenile salmon project update

May 28, 2010

We’re at it again! As cranes, dowitchers, yellow-legs and geese were ambling around the newly emerging vegetation on the Fox River Flats the first week of May, we rode out to the river on 4-wheelers packed with gear. Only to find our boat high and dry after the big 20+ foot tides left it stranded. With a bit of heave-ho, we managed to launch the boat and begin sampling.

Boat ashore at high tide

The Flats were free of snow, and the mud wasn’t too bad. Although there was still an abundance of snow at the higher elevations where our field camp is, by the end of our sampling week, even the higher snow had mostly melted. There were no fires or bears in the vicinity this year (unlike last year for those that remember), and everything went smoothly for the first round of sampling.

This year we are focusing our efforts on three tributary channels to the main stem of the Fox River. We sampled two reaches in each tributary for juvenile salmon and sampled available prey items that the salmon might be eating. Fish sampling involved setting up block nets to prevent migration in or out of the reach we were sampling, and then seining the channel. Part of our sampling involved a mark-recapture approach in which we dyed fish with Bismark Brown dye. There were already an abundance of juvenile sockeye (at least a couple of age classes) and juvenile coho (three age classes) in the tributaries. Dolly Varden were present too, along with 3 and 9 spine sticklebacks and a couple of species of sculpin.

Dyed fish

Our prey availability sampling involves collecting invertebrates that are present in the vicinity of the stream- those strange looking tubs next to the tributaries in the photo. We also collected several voucher juvenile salmon specimens so that we can examine stomach contents.

I will keep you updated as we continue sampling. Our next sampling event is scheduled for the week of may 24th.

View more photos submitted with this report.

Reported by: Coowe Walker

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