"We put in a lot of effort and felt really good because we got a lot of eggs," Smith said. "But by the time we were done collecting eggs, we realized the survival was really low."
The idea was to take sauger eggs from fish captured during their May spawn in the Big horn River in Wyoming. The eggs would be raised at the Miles City Hatchery in Montana and stocked as fingerlings on the Montana end of the 70 mile long Bighorn Reservoir, which straddles the border of the two states.
The reason is that sauger Nike Tavas Air Max spend a good deal of the summer in the Bighorn River. In the fall, they migrate down to the reservoir to overwinter. As the water cools in the reservoir, zooplankton die. Zooplankton is the main food for emerald shiners. So when there's less zooplankton, there are fewer shiners. Fewer forage fish for the sauger means they get hungrier and more aggressive about eating.
"The body condition of these fish in the last few years has been tremendous," Ruggles said.
"We don't want to jeopardize the last known genetically pure population of sauger," said Mike Ruggles, an Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologist who has overseen the project.
Attempt to boost Bighorn Reservoir sauger hits snags
The goal had been to stock 1.5 million eggs over three years on the Montana end of the reservoir and then evaluate the effect of that stocking for three years. That timeline may have to be pushed back.
"We have a bunch of big fish, probably as many as we've seen in a decade," Smith said.
"The eggs basically cooked before we got them," said Mark Smith, a Wyoming fisheries biologist.
Montana agreed to stock the sauger in an effort to protect what is listed as a species of concern in the state meaning its numbers are low and it is restricted to only a few waters. The
In 2011, unusually high water made it difficult to capture any sauger. In a month of work, fisheries crews collected only 1.5 million eggs. Out of those eggs, only 60,000 grew to fingerlings for stocking.
Based on twice a year nettings as well as spring fish shocking Air Max 2015 Laces
The fish are doing well partly because the population of emerald shiners a main forage fish for walleye and sauger has been steady.
According to Wyoming Game and Fish Department surveys, the average sauger in the reservoir measured 18.3 inches in 2011 and weighed 2.5 pounds.
None of the current record fish listed by either state have been caught in Bighorn Reservoir.
Mother Nature hasn't cooperated, though.
In Wyoming, the state record sauger was a 7.5 pounder caught in Boysen Reservoir. Boysen also claims the state's walleye record, a 17.42 pounder.
To help its neighbors to the south, Montana in 2009 began stocking only sterile walleye, also called triploids, in Bighorn Reservoir. The eggs are collected from Fort Peck Reservoir walleye. With the transition to triploids only, the agency is stocking far fewer walleye, dropping from 500,000 a year prior to 2009 to only 600,000 triploids spread out over six years.
Two wildly different water years have hampered a cooperative experiment between fishery agencies in Montana and Wyoming to boost native sauger numbers Nike Air Max Tavas Midnight
A big sauger is 5 pounds. The Montana record is an 8.8 pounder that was caught by Gene Moore in Fort Peck Reservoir in 1994. In comparison, the state record walleye weighed 17.75 pounds and the record saugeye weighed 15.66 pounds.
"If we could have pure walleye, it would be less of a concern," Smith said. "The concern on our end is the introduction of hybrids inadvertently. We could have this scenario where we have pure sauger and pure walleye break down on us."
Wyoming quit stocking walleye on its end of the reservoir in 2000 because fisheries staff determined that its more turbid waters were not hospitable to the fish. The state no longer stocks any fish in the reservoir.
The worry is that sauger have been known to interbreed with walleye. The product of the union is a saugeye. No saugeye has ever been found in Bighorn Reservoir although hundreds of sauger have been tested, Smith said. But there's still a fear that it could happen, especially if saugeye were inadvertently stocked by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, he said.
fisheries managers attempting to collect sauger eggs, steady water years at Bighorn Reservoir since 2005 have benefited the fish.
surveys, Ruggles said his crews are commonly seeing 3 pound saugers in Montana's section of the reservoir.
So even though the fisheries crews captured about 6 million eggs, only 1 percent hatched about 60,000.
The sauger fishery on Bighorn Reservoir is better at this time of the year, according to Mark Smith, Wyoming Game and Fish Department fisheries biologist.
While water fluctuations in Wyoming's Big horn River have caused headaches for Nike Air Max Thea Purple And Pink
sauger in Wyoming's Bi horn River, and also in Bighorn Reservoir, are genetically pure as well as a unique species.
The Big horn River was lower this year, but there was little mountain snow melt in May. When warm weather hit, the river spiked a fever, with water temperatures rising into the mid to upper 70s. The warm waters killed most of the sauger eggs while they were still in the fish.
"We're hoping to create this great walleye sauger fishery," Ruggles said. "Sauger could easily provide fish 2 to 4 pounds."
in Bighorn Reservoir.
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