Fly fishing, Electrofishing, and More Fishing

Written in Late June

Now that all of the interns have arrived in Ashton, Idaho, the blogging can begin! I, Natalie, the Colgate intern, have been here for 5 weeks so far. Abi, the Ashton intern, has been working since April. Maya, the Washington and Lee intern, just finished her fourth week. Finally, Christina, the Stanford intern, has been here a week and a half.


An awkward HFF intern group shot: Maya, Abi, Christina, and I

In those weeks, we did all of our work in Island Park and Ashton under the wonderful tutelage of Thacia, the Conservation Technician, and Rob, the Senior Scientist. Every Tuesday we travel from Rexburg to Flat Rock Club in Island Park to collect water samples from each site. The water samples are sent to Pocatello to be tested for various things that can decide the quality of the various parts of the Henry’s Fork Watershed. On our own we test the turbidity, or clarity, of the water. A few times a week we travel to the Buffalo Dam to check on the fish ladder. We measure and PIT tag fish in the upstream and downstream traps. While this is a fun job, we have all found that fish are really, really slippery. Frequently on Fridays, we help out at the Waste Water Treatment Plant where the Foundation is conducting a two year study to decipher what type of stream runs through there in order to find out what sort of regulations should be placed on the plant.


Maya working up fish at the Buffalo Dam

Overall, our fieldwork is hardly work. During all of our various jobs we are learning about the fly fishing culture in the area. We have been offered many of nuggets of wisdom about the art of fly fishing, which have been extremely helpful as we all try the sport. The amount of bugs I have learned about—and touched—has probably tripled.


Christina fly fishing at Ora Bridge

Last weekend, we helped out with Henry’s Fork Day, which was a great success! Between taking out trash and refilling cups, we won a guided trip with Marc Crapo, which will hopefully happen next weekend. Perhaps, after many years of the occasional fly fishing trips, I will catch my first fish.

This past week, we had training for a new job for the Friends of the Teton River organization in Driggs, Idaho. Each week three of us will travel to Driggs for four ten-hour days to do electrofishing to check cutthroat populations in the region. While this past week was mostly training for us we got to help out on many of the reaches of the streams they examined. Each day we hike into the woods with our gear—the electro fisher, nets, a couple buckets, block nets, a measuring board, and our waders—to spend the day searching for (hopefully finding) and electrofishing the various reaches. While the 5:30 am wake up is rough, the job could not be more rewarding. Who doesn’t want to spend the day in the woods bushwhacking in your waders? (Not at all sarcastic, I actually love it!)