A Sucker for Suckers

I’m currently about a month into an internship with USFWS in Klamath Falls, OR, and having an absolutely amazing time.  Our first month has been spent with the USGS working with a couple species of suckers (see the blogpost ‘A Fish Called Sucker’ to get the low-down from another intern here in Klamath Falls and some good pictures of the beautiful creature itself).  We are collecting data for a mark-recapture study by inserting pit tags into captured fish and monitoring their movements with pit tag arrays.  Fish collection occurs at night on the lake with trammel nets, during the day at a weir set up across a river that flows into the lake, and trammel nets set by hand at some springs on the edge of the lake where many suckers spawn.  Data must be downloaded from the remote sites by hand, which has lead to some interesting travel around the Klamath Basin.  We’ve had a chance to learn how pit-tag fish, ID suckers, operate the neat field ranger computers, and the basics of driving the motor boat.  The fish begin to move upriver as soon temperatures rise; Thursday there were no fish, while Friday was gorgeously sunny with about 240 fish caught.  The fish are mostly between 55-70 cm long – it’s amazing to see a seething pool of that many big fish in the trap!  Apparently that’s on the low end as well…we’re looking forward to higher numbers next week!

Katie Moyer

Chicago Botanic Garden-USFWS & USGS

Klamath Falls, OR


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