Carving Ice and Catching Smelt: Winter Sampling on Crystal Lake

Some of the ice is re-purposed as a mount for the gill net. Page clears the hole so the net can then be slowly unwound into the lake.
Some of the ice is re-purposed as a mount for the gill net. Page clears the hole so the net can then be slowly unwound into the lake.

Last summer, scientists at the CFL launched an ambitious attempt to eradicate invasive rainbow smelt from Crystal Lake in northern Wisconsin. Last weekend, Zach Lawson and Page Mieritz went up north to sample for smelt as researchers look to see what effect the experiment has had on the population.
According to CFL director, Steve Carpenter, “it’s not zero.” In fact, results point to smelt numbers being down by anywhere from 30% to 90%, but we don’t yet know how much of that is natural winter die off versus a result of the experiment. “We have the data to get an estimate, but this is a very complicated calculation,” Carpenter says. The four smelt Zach and Page found over the weekend add to the mountain of data researchers are sifting through to piece the puzzle together.
(Click on any picture below for slideshow view. Photos by Page Mieritz, Zach Lawson)

 

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