Monitoring the Muskingum river for invasive fish

August 4, 2017
Smallmouth and black buffalo

The Fish Division under the lead of Brian Zimmerman and with a grant from ODNR is carrying out a project to survey the Muskingum river watershed for invasive fish species. Last Friday Marc Kibbey and two students working on the project went fishing at the Historic Lock and Dam in the small community of luke Chute in the south-eastern corner of Ohio.

When surveying for invasive fish species, like Asian carp, Brian and his team use a combination of electroshocking, trapnetting, bottom trawling and seining at selected sites throughout the main channels of the Walhonding, Tuscarawas and Muskingum Rivers as well as a few major tributaries of those streams to assess the fish fauna top to bottom. Here they were heading up river to retrieve the trapnets they'd set out earlier in the week.

signn of Historic Lock and Dam, Luke Chute launching the OSUM Fish Division boat at Luke Chute on the Muskingum River 2017

What did they catch? Luckily no Asian carp, but both smallmouth buffalo Ictiobus bubalus and black buffalo Ictiobus niger. The black and smallmouth buffalo appear quite similar to the untrained eye; it takes a while to develop a mental picture of the characters that separate the two species. Assessments like the Muskingum River project require expertly trained ichthyologists to properly define the diversity present in that water body. Marc took the above photo of the two species to post on the Fish Division Dropbox for our staff to refer to.