KDWP BIOLOGISTS USE TECHNOLOGY TO PREDICT FISHING PROSPECTS
Fall fish sampling data used for 2011 Kansas Fishing Forecast, stocking requests
PRATT — To monitor the health of fisheries and help anglers find the best places to fish, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) fisheries biologists spend most of each fall sampling lakes throughout the state. In addition, the agency raises and stocks millions of fish throughout the state annually, providing anglers with special opportunities to catch a wide variety of species. Sampling lakes is the best way to determine population health and stocking needs, and fall is the best time to sample fish because it’s the end of the growing season.
Although KDWP biologists can't sample every lake in the state every year, periodic sampling results are assembled to show trends and multi-year averages for some lakes. This information is posted online with the KDWP Fishing Forecast, available on the KDWP website (www.kdwp.state.ks.us) in January and published in the March/April issue of Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine. The forecast and lake data are valuable tools that can help anglers decide where to fish.
Across the state, 18 district fisheries biologists are responsible for 26 large reservoirs, 40 state fishing lakes, and more than 230 community lakes. KDWP biologists have completed the 2010 sampling and are in the process of compiling results. This data will be used for next year's stocking requests, recommendations for future length and creel limit regulations, other management recommendations, as well as the annual Fishing Forecast.
In September, fisheries biologists may use electroshocking for bass, and in October and November, gill-nets and trap nets are used to sample all sportfish. The nets are pulled onto a boat and the fish removed. Biologists then count, weigh, and measure each fish and record this information, taking care to get the fish back in the water quickly. Netting results are recorded on waterproof paper or a laptop computer.
With a laptop, biologists can enter data on the water, then enter it directly into the department's Aquatic Data Analysis System (ADAS) when they get back to the office, eliminating paperwork. ADAS also allows biologists to enter paper-recorded testing data into the system through a desktop computer. They can then compare results with past years' data, which lets them know the population dynamics of the lake tested and make management decisions, from stocking plans to length and creel limits.
Biologists also use Fisheries Analysis and Simulation Tools (FAST) software program, developed in conjunction with 20 other states. This computer application allows the field biologist to use data from the ADAS system and separate age and growth testing to predict what would happen if certain length or creel limits were imposed on a given lake. Tools such as this allow biologists to better manage fish populations and enhance angling opportunities.
Now that sampling is complete, anglers across Kansas can look forward to the 2011 Kansas Fishing Forecast, which will be available on the KDWP website, www.kdwp.state.ks.us, in early 2011.