Being able to work outside is a perk to being a fisheries technician at FISHBIO; however, things are not always clear skies and calm rivers. Field techs and biologists are at their busiest during the rainy months when the weather conditions are less than desirable. While other outdoor jobs may be shutting down for the day due to rain, FISHBIO techs are throwing on rain jackets and preparing for another day in the river (see Driving rain). Rainy days mean slippery screw traps and weirs, an extra layer of fleece, and some hotter coffee for the chosen crew assigned to brave the wet conditions.
Big storms bring welcomed rain into the valley; however the increased flow into river systems also makes busy days for the FISHBIO field crews. A combination of rain and wind stirs up and frees all sorts of debris along the river, which end up washed onto our river weirs or burdening our rotary screw traps. Each river system is unique in many ways, including the type of debris that gets stirred up during a storm. From our crewmembers’ observations, the Stanislaus River tends to bring woody debris and leaves with increased flows, while the Tuolumne River brings a different unwanted enemy: the dreaded water hyacinth (check out our Fish Report that highlighted this pesky invasive plant). Water hyacinth keeps crewmembers on their toes, and ranges from floating chunks the size of a baseball to masses as big as a truck moving down the river toward our monitoring equipment.
Keeping woody debris and water hyacinth out of our gear is crucial for our fish monitoring efforts, so it’s a good thing our crew members have become skilled experts in debris removal! Whatever weather comes our way, FISHBIO field crews are ready to face the storm and do what it takes to monitor the fish that keep swimming through our rivers. The cold, rainy days in the field just make the sunny days seem that much more beautiful. So keep the rain coming, El Niño, FISHBIO is ready!