Biologists with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department conducted the first ever mountain whitefish population survey in the Hoback River south of Jackson recently. They captured and released approximately 600 whitefish in three separate passes along a three mile stretch of the river. Game and Fish Spokesman Ray Hageman says a decline in the whitefish population in surrounding states prompted the survey. He says in Wyoming mountain whitefish generally occur in mountain streams in the western part of the state, including as far east as the Big Horn Range in the north-central part of Wyoming. Extensive population surveys have never been done in Wyoming, so biologists are gathering baseline information in order to detect any future declines. So far, Hageman says whitefish populations have been surveyed in the Basalt, Smith’s Fork, Green, Wind, Popo Agie, Shoshone, Clarks Fork and now Hoback rivers; and he adds that healthy populations have been found in all of the locations. Hageman also points out that while the fish is not as popular a catch by the state’s anglers, it is a crucial species to maintaining the health and function of an aquatic ecosystem.