Arizona Game and Fish Department

Most of my current research and day to day activities with Arizona Game and Fish Department revolve around fishes of the Colorado River between Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Mead. We have three main field projects and a few laboratory projects.

Colorado River Long Term monitoring

Our goal is to monitor all of the fish in the Colorado River, Grand Canyon. This includes native fishes as well as non-native fishes. We use a variety of gear: electrofishing, hoop nets, and angling, to target specific species. This work is funded through the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program and conducted in collaboration with USGS-Grand Canyon Research and Monitoring Center and has been occurring since 2001.

Support boats for monitoring fish in the Grand Canyon
Our support boats for monitoring fish in the Grand Canyon. The near boat is affectionately called the kitchen boat, and the next one is the freighter or science boat (contains all of our electrofishing gear, hoop nets, angling gear, scanners, etc)

Lees Ferry rainbow trout fishery

We monitor the fishery at Lees Ferry, which is the 15 mile reach downstream of Glen Canyon Dam. We conduct three electrofishing trips per year (spring, summer, autumn), conduct angler surveys six times a month, and have a citizen science project where guides and interested anglers record the length of all fish captured.

I am working with a team (Team Physh) of Northern Arizona University undergraduate students in the Computer Sciences Program – as part of their capstone project they are developing a mobile phone application for AZGFD. I called it Fish Identification Search History “FISH” 🙂 It is an application that will interface with passive integrated transponders (PIT) tag scanner to identify fish that have been tagged and provide information on the history of the tagged fish that an angler captured (when it was last captured, what size it was, etc.). Anglers will also have the option of entering new information on the tagged fish they captured. This is a means to get more information on the fishery at Lees Ferry, and improve angler engagement.

boating in Glen Canyon
Heading upstream from Lees Ferry for night electrofishing

Pearce Ferry Rapid

We are investigating whether Pearce Ferry is a hindrance to fish movement, does it prevent non-natives from Lake Mead from moving upstream, or native fish, such as the endangered razorback sucker. The razorback sucker used to move between the Colorado River and Lake Mead, but may not anymore. This work is in conjunction with BIOWEST supported by The Bureau of Reclamation, and our (AZGFD) work is funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service, with logistical support by the USGS – Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center.

Check out a talk I gave to the Collaborative Conservation and Adaption Strategy Toolbox (CCAST) folks on 17 March 2021. It was recorded and uploaded to Youtube – my talk begins at 28:45.

Pearce Ferry rapid
Pearce Ferry Rapid – is it a hindrance to fish movement?

Hybridization between Flannelmouth Suckers and Razorback Suckers

Check out these two videos produced by AZGFD about our work with hybrids

Pilar Wolters, fish biologist, discusses Razorback & Flannelmouth Sucker Hybridization

Kissing a flannelmouth sucker
Kissing a native flannelmouth sucker Catostomus latipinnis