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NFC: 1 man seine nets

Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention
Konrad Schmidt - St. Paul, MN
Even though company is always welcomed on collecting trips, I rarely can
find any one who is available on a regular basis. This originally created
a crisis that has since continually driven me to modify existing types of
collecting gear which I can operate alone (Schmidt 1991 and 1992). My
latest "R&D" efforts have produced two designs for pull seines ranging in
length from 8 to 100 feet. I have used 8 to 25 foot length seines in the
smaller version which utilizes a collapsible frame that functions
similarly to a trawl net (See Illustration). Besides the seine, all the
components are available at most hardware stores. The two poles are
replacement dowels for brooms or garden tools. The seine strings are
threaded through small holes drilled into the poles and knotted to
prevent slippage. The handle is a closet rod for seines up to 12 feet or
a stairway railing for larger seines. I use handles which are shorter
than the seine's length to form a small bag when being dragged through
the water (e.g., 8' handle for 12' seine). I also had to consider the
maximum length which would fit inside my truck or tie down larger handles
to the boat rails on the topper. Corner braces are permanently screwed
into each end of the handle where detachable radiator hose clamps "lock"
the poles in place (see inset). On the 25 foot seine, I have had to use
larger corner braces and four hose clamps on each side to withstand the
greater torque exerted on the frame.

Through trial and error, I have learned what are optimum sampling
conditions and also the most effective methods. The best results occur in
turbid water or at night and where the bottom is relatively free of
obstructions (e.g., logs and boulders). My preferred sampling sites are
sand or gravel bottoms of lakes and low gradient (slow) rivers at boat
landings, swimming beaches, and tributary mouths. I tip the poles
slightly backwards, firmly grab the handle in the middle to prevent the
frame from rolling forward, slowly walk in a large, half circle, and
continue pulling the frame uniformly up on shore until the bag is clear
of the water. After removing the catch, debris is easily tossed out of
the seine by grabbing the handle in one hand and snapping the float line
with the other. In rivers, I always seine downstream and parallel to the
bank, but the deep end of the handle often requires submersion with one
hand to keep the lead line on the bottom. At the end of the haul, I make
a lazy turn toward shore to beach the seine. In tighter areas such as
boat ramps, I head straight out from shore to the top of my waders, slide
down the handle to one end, slowly pivot the seine around me, slide back
to the middle, and return up the ramp. I have also found my 8 foot model
is effective in moderate currents on darters and other riffle species
when held stationary as substrates are kicked on the upstream side of the
seine and then quickly lifted. The larger version (25 to 100 feet) varies
only in different poles and lacks a handle. I use a heavy duty dowel that
has a metal tip which is driven deep into the substrates to serve as an
anchor. However in rocky substrates, I have wedged the pole into boulders
or metal pylons used for boat docks. The seine is always checked on the
first haul for twists. Seining begins at the anchor and heads parallel to
shore until most of the slack is removed. Then a large half circle is
made around the anchor and hauled up on to shore. However, the 100 foot
seine must be beached in sections while working toward the anchor and
assuring the lead line remains on the bottom. Sampling conditions
described for the smaller version generally also apply here.

I'll be the first to admit that both versions have limitations and are in
no way a substitute for helpers. However, in my chronic pinch, both
designs have worked remarkably well and I will continue to use them in
the future. 

Literature Cited
Schmidt, K.P. 1991. Killer kick nets. American Currents: summer pp.

Schmidt, K.P. 1992. The one person seine. American Currents: summer pp.

Robert Rice
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