Fisheries Biologists on Horses???!!!

June 5, 2017 daryl bauer

This blog post is going to be a real easy one for me, I am simply going to tell you to follow a link and read another blog post done by one of my Game & Parks Commission co-workers.  Recently, Justin Haag was able to tag along with a couple of our fisheries biologists in western Nebraska while they horse-backed into one of our most remote, and unique, fisheries to do some sampling.  Justin blogged about it here, Fisheries Work by Horse and Mule.  Take a few minutes and read it!

Packhorse with sampling gear along the South Fork of Soldier Creek. NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag photo.

You may wonder, “why the horses and mules?”  Well the sampling they did was on Soldier Creek just northwest of Ft. Robinson.  I am betting there are a lot of folks who do not know that there is a U.S. Forest Service Wilderness Area there–no vehicles allowed, walk-in or horseback access only.  Both the middle fork and south fork of Soldier Creek are found within that wilderness area and both forks support healthy trout fisheries.  Our northwest regional fisheries biologists are responsible for the management of the Soldier Creek fisheries, and to be good stewards of that resource they have to at least occasionally do some fish sampling there–thus the pack animals!

As you can see by the photos, neither fork of Soldier Creek is large, but it is pristine water and I believe one of our state’s most unique fisheries.  Through the years whenever I have had an opportunity to spend some time in the beautiful Nebraska Pine Ridge, I have tried to take at least a few hours and walk up either the south or middle fork of Soldier Creek to dry off some trout.  My last trip to those holy waters was last fall, Fall Tour.

I told Justin I was jealous that he got to tag along on the field sampling trip.  Actually, I also told him that I was not sure I would have been able to do it, because in spite of my ancestry, I hate horses.  I might have been able to crawl up on one though to see stretches of Soldier Creek that I had never seen before.

Al Hanson and Joe Rydell are our two fisheries biologists who work out of our Alliance office.  Justin got some pictures of them running the backpack electrofishing unit:

Al Hanson and Joe Rydell using a backpack eletrofishing unit to sample trout. NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag photo

And then collecting data on the fish they sampled:

Measuring brook trout, recording data. NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag photo.

I have not seen the data, but it sounds like they found the brook trout population to be in very good shape–naturally-reproducing brook trout I must add!

Brook trout and creek chubs swimming in South Fork of Soldier Creek. NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag photo.

Anyway I was thrilled to read Justin’s blog and learn about the work on Soldier Creek.  It is one of my favorite fishing holes, a place where I caught one of my best “trophy” fish, a 13-inch male brook trout in spawning colors.  I know others have already seen Justin’s post, but in case you have not, I wanted to share it with you.




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