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Slimers for Science

Fishing is pretty great in itself, but you know what makes it even better?

Getting paid for it.

This past year I stumbled into an opportunity to work as a research assistant for a project on lake trout in Lake Champlain. I started off volunteering, going out on the research vessel Melosira to do sampling trawls at unholy hours of the night. Eventually I started earning an hourly wage as an official employee, and thus started my work during the daylight.

Since then, I have dissected fish stomachs, sorted through the contents of trawl nets, and hauled up hundreds of feet of gill nets in search of wild lake trout.

Scientific research isn't all white laboratories and 'eureka!' moments. It can be slow, frustrating, and at times almost tear-inducing. I'm sure most people would rather do just about anything with their weekends other than waking up at 4 in the morning to walk a couple miles out onto a frozen lake in temperatures well into the negative double-digits. Still, someone's gotta do it, and honestly, I think it's pretty fun.

All of us here at River Rat were raised with a deep appreciation for our natural environment, and understand the importance of preserving the wild populations of the game we so madly pursue. Research gives us insights into the life and habits of our quarry, and some background info on the regulations put in place to protect them. We try to play our part in preserving these populations so that they may continue to be harvested, and their bounty enjoyed, for many generations to come.

Even though research can be difficult and physically (and mentally) demanding, I can't think of any other way I'd rather spend my time. As long as I've had my morning coffee (even if that's at 4AM ), I'm ready to go. There's nothing quite like seeing the sun rise over the Green Mountains through a clear sky, or watching a big fish head back to the depths after a seamless tagging process. I've had some amazing experiences and learned a lot, and can't wait to continue with my own scientific career in the future.

First laker I ever jigged up through the ice: a 5-lb stocked fish with a stomach full of alewife.

Thanks for the read! See you all out there,

Danielle McAree

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