Survey finds many fish survived drought

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VERDI, Nev. (KOLO) -- Armed with fishing nets and a generator, an NDOW team October 28, 2016 was trying to count how many fish are in a section of the Truckee River near Verdi.

"We're electrofishing the river and trying to get an idea of exactly what we have got in our transects," said Travis Hawkes, a Fisheries Biologist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

When biologists put a pulse of electricity into the water, the fish are temporarily stunned and float to the top of the water.

"It allows us to net them, put them in an oxygenated live well. They'll recover and once they have recovered we'll measure them, weigh them and take fin samples if we need to and then release them," said Hawkes.

The anticipation is that there won't be many fish. At time in 2015 the river had no flow at all and actually dried up in some locations.

"Anytime you have a situation like that you are going to lose a lot of fish,” said Kim Tisdale, a Fisheries Biologist with NDOW.

Biologists, however, can't confirm the numbers of fish in the river until they get them out of the river. After electrofishing for an hour and covering 600 feet of river, the survey finds positive results.

"Overall it is positive. There is a really good crop of young fish coming up right now after last year's successful spawning, so overall it is better than what we had expected," said Hawkes.

In addition to young fish, a good number of large, seven- or eight-year-old fish were found to have made it through the drought. Still, though, there is room for improvement.

"The fishery always rebuilds itself. It just needs a few good years of water in the river. They always bounce back," said Tisdale.

Biologists say it will take five or six years until the river is back to what it once was.