After the survey, equipment is collected before hiking back to the vehicles.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division recently traveled to the Chattooga River to lead one of the state’s largest fish sampling surveys of the year.

Joining the survey was the South Carolina Department of Natural ResourcesTrout Unlimited, U.S. Forest Service and students from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College’s (ABAC) Wildlife Management program. The additional manpower was certainly needed.

The survey is done with backpack shockers that temporarily “shock” the fish, while the fish are collected in nets and buckets.

The group hauled 14 backpack shockers to the Big Bend Falls area of the river being surveyed that day.  Equipped with waders, nets and shockers, everyone spread out across the width of the river and powered up the shockers.  Those with backpack shockers led the way, while the rest of the group followed closely scooping up the fish in nets and buckets. The team made three passes along the 100-150 yard stretch of the river, while staff from the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division and South Carolina DNR collected, sorted, counted, weighed and measured all of the fish after each pass.

“The purpose of the survey is to determine the relative abundance of trout and nongame species,” said Georgia Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern. “This information is important for detecting potential problems in the fishery and for promoting good fishing opportunities when they occur.”

This year’s survey showed a low abundance of trout, but the survey still recorded a variety of fish:

After releasing the fish, the team packed up and headed on the hike back. The weather was a bit cooler than the week before, and the storms held off until the survey was completed and everyone had made it back to the trucks.  Luckily, it wound up being a great day for the survey.