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Trout rescue work saves 6,000 fish from canals
About 6,000 trout were rescued from drained irrigation canals in Park County and returned to the Shoshone River. Trout Unlimited photo

Trout rescue work saves 6,000 fish from canals

Nov 8, 2012 - By Gib Mathers, The Powell Tribune

POWELL (AP) -- More trout were rescued from irrigation canals this fall than ever before.

After water to irrigation canals is shut off, trout are trapped in pools surrounded by dry ground and are unable to reach the Shoshone River.

Volunteers with the East Yellowstone Chapter of Trout Unlimited rescue the trout and return them to the river.

On Nov. 2, the 11th and final day of rescue efforts, the chapter's unofficial count was 6,000.

Trout Unlimited has never captured more than 5,400 trout in canals. "This is our best year ever," said Dave Sweet of Cody, Trout Unlimited member.

By comparison, nearly 5,200 trout were caught last year.

To catch the fish, volunteers use an electro shocker with a loop attached to the end of the rod that stuns the fish. Then, the only slightly stunned trout are netted, transported in a bucket and transferred into an oxygenated tank for later release into the Shoshone.

The water in the Garland Canal Wednesday, Oct. 31 was deep, which made the going slow. The netters can wait until the water recedes more, but then risk the water freezing, thus killing the fish. Or they can brave the deep water that threatens to swamp even chest waders.

About 100 trout were caught on the Garland Canal running roughly north and east of U.S. 14-A on Wednesday.

It had been a slow start. A few trout were netted. Then after a lunch break they cruised the canal just southwest of Ralston Reservoir.

Driving up the canal road, a school of fish was spotted.

One group worked upstream and another downstream, endeavoring to drive the leery trout into a trap.

Suddenly, the trout swarmed just below the surface of the murky canal like sharks smelling a snack.

Like silver arrows, the fish darted to and fro, trying to evade the pesky nets trawling beneath them like ruthless seines.

"Got one!"

Trout Unlimited member Bob Capron submerged his shocker while a new volunteer slid his net beneath the trout. The trout slapped the net in annoyance before being eased into a five gallon bucket filled with water.

"That one hopped right in there," said Trout Unlimited member Cathy Sweet laughing.

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