Local group, biologists begin study of trout in Deerfield River

Greenfield Recorder –

Ted Castro-Santos carefully performed abdominal surgery on the shore of the Deerfield River. His “patients” were approximately 30 brown trout, each caught, anesthetized and fitted with an abdominal radio tag before being released into the river.

These surgeries marked the beginning of a two-year study that will investigate the movement of brown trout in the Deerfield River. The radio tags will show where the trout are located in the river and their movement patterns, Castro-Santos said.

This is particularly interesting to scientists and recreational fishermen because it will show how the trout react to the river’s daily “hydro-peaking” flows, or increases and decreases in water levels, which come from the Fife Brook hydroelectric dam releasing or withholding water.

Although radio-tagging fish isn’t new, this type of study is at the forefront.

“It’s the first time we know in Massachusetts, maybe the country, I’m not sure, but certainly in Massachusetts that we’ll be tracking the movement of trout and the impacts of a hydroelectric river,” said Michael Vito, president of Deerfield River Watershed Trout Unlimited 34, the local organization that funded the study.

Presently, much of the knowledge of how trout move in the Deerfield River is anecdotal, which is why the current study is important to provide hard data, Vito said.

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