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Ronan's report

Monday September 24th, 2007

Went fishing for science this weekend to help a biologist friend collect some samples for her thesis on parasites in hardhead and pikeminnow in the Feather River. Her permit for scientific collection stipulated that the fish must be collected in accordance with fishing regs, so while we could possibly have used a spear gun or a bow, we got out the rods. We weren't able to get any mature fish on streamers, so as the rains came on several small fish were picked up on tiny dries to get some fish for the lab (euthanized in anethetic).

Hardhead and the Northern Pikeminnow are extremely similar in appearance. The upper lip is the best distinguishing characteristic (the pikeminnow have a lip that goes all the way around their nose and back to the scissors, hardhead lips are only present on the sides). A feeding behavior difference in mature fish also sets the two apart. While the hardhead keep a varied diet, the pikeminnow becomes entirely piscivorous much to the detriment of salmon and steelhead populations. On the Columbia, hydro-electric projects have given the pikeminnow such an edge that a bounty has been put on them.

The parasites, well... they're gross. Worms and several other odd things which aren't immediately apparent until a microscope. Those little spots you see on fish aren't so innocuous. Brings catch and release forward in my mind for reasons I don't want to think about. Dawn was unfazed as you might expect from a biologist with an "I Brake for Roadkill" license plate holder, someone who can spend the morning discecting a fish looking for parasites then happily go out for a sushi lunch.


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