Mapping Oklahoma waters
The Oklahoma Water Resources Board has launched an interactive digital map highlighting the number of fish species in more than 400 lakes, streams and rivers in the state.
The online map, which the agency introduced at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, is new but the agency has been catching and recording information about fish for almost two decades as part of its duties to determine the health of Oklahoma waters.
“The fish and the bugs really give us a good indication of overall water quality,” said Lance Phillips, stream monitoring program manager for the OWRB. “If the water quality is not as good as it should be, we are going to find less diversity.”
While the data has scientific value, it also can be a resource for Oklahoma anglers to learn about fish species, populations and locations around the state.
On the new map, people can click on a location and learn the different kinds of fish species and how many of each were caught by agency employees during their electrofishing and seining surveys.
Universities, scientists, corporations and industry have relied on the agency's water quality research for many years, but now the OWRB is making its fish collection data about more easily accessible to the public through the map on its web site.
“We got a new database in a searchable format and decided to put the map out and let anglers know what kind of fish are in their favorite bodies of water,” Phillips said. “I think that will be a great resource for them to see what is out there. Everything that we have found is on that map.”
The Oklahoma Water Resources Board has monitoring teams that annually collect samples of water chemistry, habitat, algae, organisms and fish. All of it is used to assess the condition of a lake or stream.
"The amount of data collected by our monitoring teams at lakes, streams and groundwater sites is massive," added Bill Cauthron, chief of the OWRB's Water Quality Division.
The agency collects fish between May and October to identify and count the various species, from sport fish to minnows and darters. More than 150 fish species are detailed on the new map.
In addition to the common Oklahoma fish species, OWRB personnel also find unusual fish such as shovel-nosed sturgeon, the American eel, and blue suckers.
“We find endangered species all the time,” Phillips said.
To see the fish monitoring map and other various OWRB interactive maps and data, visit http://www.owrb.ok.gov/maps/index.php
Trout anglers to discuss Lower Illinois River
Jim Burroughs, streams supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, will be updating members of the 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited about the Lower Illinois River on Tuesday.
Burroughs will be speaking to the group at the Village Library, 10307 N. Penn, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The Lower Illinois River near Gore is a year-round trout stream but has been plagued by water issues in recent years.
The monthly meeting of the trout club is open to the public.