Talking sports

Future fish

By TED WADDELL
Posted 9/8/21

LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY – As with a lot of life forms on this planet, it all starts, from humans to trout, with an egg and a sperm.

On Tuesday, August 24, the fisheries folks at the New York …

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Talking sports

Future fish

Posted

LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY – As with a lot of life forms on this planet, it all starts, from humans to trout, with an egg and a sperm.

On Tuesday, August 24, the fisheries folks at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Catskill State Fish Hatchery began the short but intense process of gathering two million eggs for the propagation of the fabled brown trout.

That morning, this sports scribbler got his feet wet, figuratively speaking of course, in learning about the business of harvesting eggs and milt (sperm) from hundreds of fish. The staff at the local fish hatchery included Michelle Poprawski, fish culturist 4 and hatchery manager; fish culturists 1 Tim Anstey, Katie Piscitello, Logan Grishaber and Josh Laedke; seasonal technician Brandon Kane; and from DEC Region IV, fish and wildlife technicians Rob Poprawski and Julia Priolo.

Michelle Poprawski started her career with the state’s environmental steward program six years ago, and now serves as a fish culturist 4. She is the local hatchery’s first woman in that supervisory position.

Once the eggs and milt were gathered, they were mixed, and the resulting buckets of fertilized eggs were delivered to her. Then she carefully washed them in cold water to remove any dead eggs,  and placed them in specialized incubation trays for the next stage of the growth process.

Her take on the importance of fish hatcheries?

“It totally enhances the outdoor experience,’ replied Poprawski, adding, “We’re giving back to the anglers, to ensure that they can catch a fish.”

Logan Grishaber, a 2009 graduate of Sullivan West High School, has worked at the Catskill Fish Hatchery as a fish culturist 1 for the last four years. During the egg- and milt-gathering, he was in charge of mixing the ovarian fluid that contained the eggs and milt. Then he added two cups of water to the mix, thus initiating the rapid process of fertilization.

Just a few days prior, the fisheries folks harvested 1.6 million eggs from 295 female brown trout—a record for the local hatchery—and on Tuesday were in full force, well on their way to reach the target total of two million eggs fertilized, give or take a few.

“I knew I wanted to work in the outdoors,” said Grishaber, the grandson of noted outdoorsman Craig Stewart of Callicoon, who was known to wet a line or two in the Upper Delaware River and surrounding waterways.

“I grew up fishing in Callicoon Creek and the river,” explained Grishaber, “It just worked out for me.”

Tim Anstey is an old hand at the Catskill Fish Hatchery, and will be retiring pretty soon after 24 years. He’d originally gone back to school at the age of 34 to qualify for a job with the DEC.

“I’ve enjoyed every moment of it,” he said of working at the hatchery. “I love the outdoors, and love working in the outdoors.”

His take on the process of gathering eggs to ensure brown trout thrive in the region?

“I think what we do here is a wonderful thing, not only for the sportsmen, but for the local fisheries, streams, lakes and reservoirs.”

For more information about the multifaceted NYSDEC programs, including fish hatcheries, visit dec.ny.gov.

For information about the Catskill Fish Hatchery, call 845/439-4328.

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