Ohio anglers are always happy to catch a creel full of slab bluegills, a live well full of hawg largemouth bass, or that walleye they have been searching for all summer. However, none of these fish would be capable of growing to harvestable size if it wasn't for organisms that are smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. But who is looking after those microscopic individuals?
Throughout July, fisheries biologists from the Division of Wildlife have been looking at those organisms that young fish consume. Throughout Northeast Ohio, 33 lakes have been sampled to determine the composition and amounts of nutrients, phytoplankton, and zooplankton in the water.
The field work involved in examining these trophic levels is simple. Biologists take a water sample over the upper 6 feet of the water and then freeze a small part of it to look at the nutrients, filter some of the water to examine the phytoplankton, and preserve some of the water to look at the zooplankton. Dissolved oxygen and temperature readings are recorded to see how the reservoir is stratifying and warming. Once all of the information collected, biologists will then look at patterns of fish survival and recruitment on a statewide level.