Jul 28, 2010


The other day we set out from the ramps just before dusk. The sun was going down as we motored across the calm waters. The temperature was just right, there was light breeze that aroused and the sky was full of the brilliant hues of sunset. Ahhh, it was a perfect evening for romance.

Spawning was imminent. (Cue up the Barry White)

I tagged along with some other fish researchers on an excursion for spawning spotted seatrout. They've been sampling and studying the bawdy little guys for several years now. As we rode out, they informed me that in the summer during certain moon phases, the seatrout will aggregate at night to get it on. I gazed up and sure enough, there was a full moon low in the sky. The ride wasn't long, and we reached an inconspicuous beach and came to a halt. We turned on an audio receiver to listen for the drumming of the males. Yep, they're calling in the ladies. Contrary to their name, spotted seatrout aren't in the trout family...they're members of the drum family. The males make a drumming sound by beating their abdominal muscles to their swim bladders. Apparently the females think this is pretty sexy, so they come a runnin for some lovin.

once you go trout...you don't holdout.

I jumped out of the boat into knee deep water while holding one side of a long seine net. The boat sped away to make a wide arch coming back into the beach. We brought the two ends of the net together and pulled in the slack. As the catch had become more and more concentrated, I could feel fish banging against my ankles. shut up.

We ended up catching around 40 large seatrout in a single net. According to my colleagues, this was a small catch...sometimes they catch up to 100 per tow. The bulging fish were loaded into the back of the mullet skiff for processing.

I was kind of bummed because it was too wet to bring my camera.

We took lengths, DNA samples, and checked for sex. This was the interesting part. To check for male or female, you have to put a little pressure on the stomach of the fish to check for hydrated eggs. And I found out that the more pressure, the more furiously the eggs spray out of the animal. As I'm wiping off eggs from my shirt, someone called out to the person recording data that the first fish of the night was "a female, running ripe". I've decided that most people would have been disturbed by this.

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