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West Virginia Wildlife
Catfish Camera
Patrick McMurtry A New Device Takes Biologists Underwater

July 18, 2012
Reporter: Patrick McMurtry
Videographer: Brad Rice


Through the years, we've done surveys checking the bass population, musky movements and how the walleye are doing on the New River. Now the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is looking at how catfish are reproducing, and they're using a different technique. Meet the fish cam.

Zach Brown, a biologist with the division, explains "This is actually a piece of equipment, the aqua view underwater viewing system and it's used by ice fishermen. Look at that guy!"

The fish cam comes complete with a couple tiny lights on the side of it's head or lens and that comes in handy when you're trying to see if a catfish inside a wooden box is guarding a bunch of eggs. These catfish can be feisty!

This is the first time the DNR's done this type of fish survey, but not the first efforts they've made at establishing a breeding population in state lakes. These catfish boxes give the fish a place to breed, but the question is, how many of these boxes are being used by the fish.

"The reason we're doing this today is because we want to make sure they work. I could not find a study that shows how good they are being utilized by the catfish, so if we're spending a lot of time building these, resources putting them out, we want to make sure that they are working and we are not wasting our time and money." says Brown.

The results right now are kind of mixed, and by finding which boxes in Burnsville are occupied, and which aren't, the DNR will be able to get the boxes where the fish will nest.

"We are finding about 30 % occupancy, but it's not randomly distributed. A lot of it is clumped, they prefer certain areas and we need to come back and do some habitat research." says Brown.

That research will translate into better fish management and more catfish for folks to catch.

LEARN MORE at the W. Va. DNR


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