LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife conducts statewide fish surveys year round, and Wednesday, we got a first hand look at how they're studying saugeye fish on Lake Lawtonka. It's a two year study and they're about 8 months into it. The Fish Biologist uses a method of electrofishing to do the study, which is a non-lethal way to catch the fish and find out what it's eating, so they can tailor to the population better.
With a click of a button on the generator on the boat.
A slight shock is sent 6 to 8 feet down the water to stun the fish, temporarily and cause them to float to the surface. Fish Biologists like, Clayton Porter sort through and find the saugeye that he's looking for.
"They will come up to the top of the water for about 30 seconds," said Porter. "A lot of times, it doesn't even hit them that long, so it's a quick way we can look at the fish and get them back in the water without any harm to them."
From there, they measure the fish, weigh them and examine what they've eaten recently, record all the data and throw them back in the water.
"This diet study allows us to better see where and what time our fish are feeding, so it allows us to see what type of fish they might be eating on in the fall compared to the spring," said Porter. "In the spring, we have a lot more fish that are nested, smaller fish, so we see if there's any diet shifts that go on throughout the year with our saugeye."
Porters says the lakes in Southwest Oklahoma are a true treasure to the community and they do these studies to make sure the fish are growing, healthy and good for those fishing in the Lake to take home and eat.
"It helps us narrow down how we might make a management strategy towards our fish to get them to grow better or maybe a size restriction on a harvestable size of fish, so we can get optimal growth," said Porter. "That's the key to our management principle is that we have a sound viable population for all of our anglers in Oklahoma to be able to go to the lake and enjoy it."
The team only got five saugeye today, but Porter says they are all over Lawtonka right now. He hopes people take advantage of this hot spot right here in Southwest Oklahoma.
"Come out and enjoy the lakes," said Porter. "It's a beautiful time to be out in Oklahoma. We have great fisheries in Southwest Oklahoma so get out and take the kids fishing and enjoy a nice day at the lake."