Sportfish tagging and tracking research

Sportfish tagging and tracking research

It’s that time again… field season! There are two major projects that I will be directly involved in as the field program manager in Dr. Chris Somers lab (details below!). Also crucial to this research is Una Goncin, who will be working as a technician on the project this year. Una recently completed her honours degree where she studied the hybridization of walleye and sauger.

Una and I testing out our acoustic equipment in Buffalo Pound.

Project 1: Multi-species acoustic telemetry project in Buffalo Pound.

The goal of this project is to gain a better understanding of how co-existing freshwater sport fish use space and habitat relative to each other. To this end we will be tracking Common Carp, Burbot, Walleye, and Northern Pike with a combination of manual and passive acoustic telemetry tracking. We were very lucky to be able to partner with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment and Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation at their walleye spawn camp on Buffalo Pound this April. The collaboration allowed us access to all of these species at the same time and location. Prior to 2017 we completed 2 field programs where we acoustically tagged Walleye and Sauger with external Vemco transmitters. This year we added Carp, Burbot and Northern Pike to the list and it went swimmingly! Throughout the duration of spawn camp we fitted 7 Burbot, 6 Carp, 7 Walleye and 7 Pike with acceleration sensor Vemco transmitters. These fish were all successfully released several days ago and we begin our active and passive tracking this week! We will continue to track these fish throughout the summer and fall.

Project 2: Saskatchewan sportfish recapture program

This is the beginning of what we hope to be a long-term tag and recapture program of Saskatchewan sportfish. The goal here is to tag as many sportfish (mainly Walleye) in various popular recreational lakes in the province. Fish will be fitted with a small red or blue floy tag near their second dorsal fin. These tags will contain an ID code that we hope anglers will call in and report. Over time we hope to accumulate recapture information from various water bodies and gain an understanding about fish movement, behaviour and recapture rates post catch and release. As mentioned above, the Ministry of Environment spawn camp provided a fantastic opportunity to kick of the floy tagging for this project. Over the duration of spawn camp we floy tagged 275 walleye and 163 Northern Pike in Buffalo Pound Lake, Saskatchewan. With fishing season just around the corner we are looking forward to seeing if any Buffalo Pound anglers catch our tagged fish! Throughout the summer we will continue floy tagging walleye in Lake Diefenbaker, the Calling Lakes (Katepwa, Pasqua, Mission, Echo), Last Mountain Lake, and Tobin Lake. Most of our future floy tagging will be completed through collaborations with tournament organizers in the province.

We need your help with this research!

We can’t do either of these projects with out you- especially those of you out on the water. Please keep an eye out for our deployment equipment on Buffalo Pound (labelled orange buoys). We’ve placed educational signs at all major launches on Buffalo Pound to make anglers and boaters aware that there is equipment in the lake, and that it is there for a very good reason! Please don’t tamper with this equipment, but feel free to call / email us if you have any questions / concerns. As for our recapture program we need you to report your tagged fish by calling 1 306 585 4850.

Interested in helping? Our research team has made a Facebook page to share these research activities with you. The page includes photos, updates, and discussions and specific instructions about what to do if you catch a tagged fish. If you are interested in more specific details and how you can get involved please go check out the page:


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