These notes are to help plan a field trip. Send me a note if you have modifications!

What to bring to the field

Equipment for shipping fish or eggs

  • Coolers
  • Oxygen tank
  • Battery-operated pumps
  • Batteries
  • Plastic garbage bags to line coolers so they don’t leak
  • Plastic bags for holding fish or eggs
  • Elastic bands
  • Duct tape
  • Falcon tubes & stand

Equipment for preserving fish

  • Jars
  • MS-222 (buffer with baking soda)
  • Ethanol
  • Formalin
  • Rite-in-the-rain paper
  • Pencil

Gear for catching fish

  • Traps
  • Rope
  • Dipnets
  • Pails
  • Cheese
  • Flagging tape
  • Rite-in-the-rain notebook

Gear for making crosses and keeping eggs

  • Petri dishes (10+)
  • Falcon tubes
  • Dissecting instruments (2-3 sets of tweezers, scissors)
  • Bleach or alcohol
  • Egg cups (yoghurt containers with screens)
  • Dechlorination stuff (e.g., Prime)

Gear for keeping fish

  • Air pumps
  • Tubing and air stones
  • Power filters
  • Dechlorination stuff (e.g., Prime)
  • Frozen fish food (for captives).


  • Rain gear: jacket, pants, hood
  • Rubber boots
  • Waders
  • Life Jackets

Boat gear

  • Spare oars
  • Rope (required)
  • Bailer (required)
  • Life jackets (required)

Camping gear

  • Tent
  • Tarps
  • Sleeping bags
  • Stove
  • Cooking utensils
  • Matches


  • First Aid Kit (should be one in the lab truck)
  • Money
  • Wet suit
  • Rope
  • Binoculars

Disinfecting traps at the end of your field trip

You must disinfect minnow traps and clips after a field trip. This is a condition of our permits, and is required before setting traps in a lake containing endangered species pairs. The last thing we want to do is spread invasive species between lakes. Therefore, you must disinfect your traps after each field trip.


  • Garbage pail or equivalent container (30 gallons or larger)
  • Bleach
  • Measuring cup


  1. Fill garbage pail with water/chlorine mix to make the disinfectant. Water/Chlorine mix should be at least 10ml of bleach to one gallon of water. Higher concentration is good.
  2. Place traps in disinfectant for at least 24 hours
  3. Following disinfection, rinse traps and dry before storage


  • Make sure you remove any debris from the traps before you bring them back
  • If you’re not sure that the traps are clean, it won’t hurt to re-disinfect them
  • It’s also a good idea to disinfect the floats/string as well

Lake information

Aquatic vegetation map for Priest and Paxton lakes

Lake depth maps in pdf format

Where to trap fish (maps)

Lower Mainland

Vancouver Island

Texada Island

Other islands

Sechelt Peninsula

The Great Cheese Debate

When trapping sticklebacks, should a lump of orange cheddar cheese be added in hopes of improving the catch? This is not recommended if you are hoping to examine gut contents because some sticklebacks actually eat the stuff. In other circumstances, however, is cheese recommended?
The debate has raged for years in the Schluter lab. McPhail swore by the cheesy approach, Schluter also recommends it, but his lab members are exceedingly skeptical. The question was put to the test for the first time on June 5, 2003, by Nathan Millar and others. The test was carried out in Klein Lake, which has a rather low density of sticklebacks. Minnow traps were placed along the shore where they sat overnight. The results are given below. Each number refers to the count in a single trap (20 traps total).

Cheese addedNo cheese added

**one of the traps under the no cheese columns had cheese in it, at least initially.
A two-sample t-test after a square-root (+0.5) transformation gave t = 1.7386, df = 18, P-value = 0.0992. An approximate Wilcoxon test (Mann-Whitney U-test) gave Z = 0.9628, P-value = 0.3357.
Thus, the results are inconclusive. Each camp can continue to hold on to private beliefs, with the assurance that no data (yet!) will prove them wrong.