Day 0: Fisheries Camp

May 15, 2016: Today was the first day of Summer Camp for my Wildlife & Fisheries Management major. It’s a week spent at WVU Jackson’s Mill, an extension of the University, studying fisheries techniques. So, in accordance with the principle of the camp, I’ll age these posts the same way to age a fish. The first year a fish is born is “Age 0,” so today’s post is Day 0.

Staying SAFE

The first lecture of the day was from Dr. Kyle Hartman, the guy in charge of camp. He used PowerPoints from 2000 to tell us what we needed to know, the main takeaways being how to be SAFE – Skills, Attitude, Facts, Equipment – and that no data is worth risking your own life.

This is all under the umbrella of being safe while using electroshocking equipment. Electroshocking is sending electric DC pulses (not AC) into a body of water – whether it be a stream, pond, or lake – and gathering data like age, sex, and length of fishes. Only about 1% die, and it’s the most effective way to gather information about a stream.

Since we’re using voltages here and a touch to the water could be painful/deadly, the safety lesson wasn’t all that bad.


We didn’t quite identify the fish Dr. Hartman drew on the board…

Dr. Kyle Hartman shows how to age fish using a sketch of a dolphin-like creature. PC: Jillian Clemente

…but we did learn how to age fish using scales and otoliths and measure their bodies. We’ll be putting those skills into practice over the week.


Besides shocking, netting can capture fishes and other aquatic creatures, too. There are plenty of nets for fisheries biologists to cast out, but each have their specific purpose.

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Dr. Kyle Hartman explains how a fyke net is to be used to the Summer Camp students. PC: Jillian Clemente
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Dr. Kyle Hartman explains how a gill net has an increasing size of mesh to capture different sizes of fish. The top rope is buoyant and the bottom is weighted. PC: Jillian Clemente

It’s important to know how to put the nets away, too.

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Ed Olesh demonstrated how to properly fold up the fyke net so it was easier to transport and take out again. PC: Jillian Clemente

We’ll be using these this week.

After Dinner

There was time to relax and explore Jackon’s Mill as well in the toasty 44 degree weather for “winter” camp. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful night in West Virginia wrapped up by horseshoes, hikes, and SlapJack.

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Summer Camp students took a mini hike in the depths of camp. PC: Jillian Clemente