Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP)
Fisheries Biologists use various sampling methods to assess the
fish populations in the State's waters. Some of the more common
sampling methods are described below, and sampling results for
selected water bodies are summarized in the Reel Facts sheets. See
below for links to current Reel Facts sheets.
Electrofishing, which is using
electricity to stun and catch fish, is a common and effective tool
to sample freshwater fish populations. This gear can be used to
collect a wide variety of sport fish species including Largemouth
Bass, Crappie, Bluegill, and other bream species.
During electrofishing, multiple
shoreline areas within a water body are shocked. The distance
traveled is measured, and stunned fish are collected and held in a
live-well until the sample is completed. Captured fish are
identified, counted, weighed, measured, and released back into the
MDWFP biologists use gill nets, trap nets, lead nets, hoop nets,
and trawls to catch various fish species. Except for the trawl, the
nets are set and left in the water to "fish" for one or two days.
Nets with different mesh sizes are used to catch a wide range of
fish sizes. The trawls are towed behind a boat and retrieved. Fish
captured in nets are identified, counted, weighed, measured, and
released back into the water.
MDWFP biologists also collect otoliths or fin spines from fish.
Otoliths or "ear stones" are hard, bony structures located directly
behind the brain, that are used to age fish such as Largemouth Bass
or crappie. Pectoral fin spines are used to age catfish. Annual
rings are formed on both hard parts, and biologists count the rings
to determine the fish's age. The age samples are used to determine
age structure, mortality and growth rates of the population.
Creel surveys are used to gather information from anglers during
or after their fishing trip. Anglers are asked what species
they are fishing for, the number of hours fished, and how many fish
they have kept or thrown back. Harvested fish are identified,
counted, weighed and measured. Creel surveys are also used to
solicit anglers' opinions about proposed rule changes or gather
economic and demographic information from the users.
MDWFP Managed Lakes
Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway