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Kyle Hartman

Kyle Hartman fishing


We’ve been studying headwater streams and Brook Trout populations for well over 20 years, pretty much since I got here. My graduate students and I affectionately refer to it as “the long-term project.” We monitor habitat of brook trout populations in 25 streams at all different elevations in West Virginia. Some of the research is trying to figure out why some populations are resistant to disturbance or resilient to disturbance and others aren’t. 

We have several fisheries management-related projects going on right now. There’s a lot of concern about delayed mortality of muskies in the summertime. Muskies are pretty much a catch-and-release fish for most people. There’s concern that after releasing them in the summertime, some unknown percentage of them die. I have two master’s students studying that: one who’s doing a pond study where we know exactly what temperature the fish are caught and what temperature they’re released in; and another student doing radio telemetry on Stonewall Jackson Lake. Those are exciting studies because there is so much interest, and they’re generated by musky anglers and Musky, Inc. It’s really preliminary right now, but in the pond study, if it’s above 82 or 83 degrees, we’ve had trouble even getting them to bite.

If you weren’t working at WVU, what’s the most likely alternative?

I would probably still be doing fisheries research. I don’t know if it would be at a federal lab or another institution, but I’m sure I’d still be doing that. I enjoy doing research and training students and all the stuff that goes along with being a professor. Ideally, I’d say I’d want to be an actor haha. 

Moment you knew what you wanted to study:

I always fished and hunted, and I probably fished more than I hunted when I was growing up in Ohio. Every weekend I was fishing. My parents might catch glimpses of me during the day, but I’d get up, eat breakfast and when it got dark, I’d come back from my day’s activities haha. That and when I had fishing classes at Hawking, I decided I was really into it. 

In those days you couldn’t look up jobs online. You had to go to the state office building and look through paper copies of jobs posted. I had been doing that in Columbus for Ohio DNR for a while. I got frustrated with going down there and not finding much, so I popped my head into one of the assistant’s offices and said, “You’ve got to know what positions are open.” She goes and gets the assistant director and takes me to a conference room with a bunch of mounted fish on the wall and asked me to identify them. So I did and did pretty well. I ended up doing an internship for 10 months, and that was when I knew I was either going to be working in biology and fisheries or in some way working with fish.

Moment you knew your current role was right for you:

The first time I had a role with significant parts of teaching and research was when I came to WVU. I guess I didn’t run away kicking and screaming, so I guess I realized I belonged at WVU. I guess I reasoned my way through this.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I lived in Preston County on top of a mountain my whole life. I’ve done research in Mongolia. I’ve done research in Alaska. I love to hunt pheasant and waterfowl, and I’ve gone to South Dakota a few times to do guest lectures and hunt. The places I think I’d like to go to, I’ve been there and done it. So I'm pretty happy here in West Virginia. If I were going to move someplace it would probably have even fewer people if that’s possible. It’s not that I don’t like people; I don’t care for a lot of traffic.

Favorite part of social distancing:

Part of it is the flexibility that it gives you working from home. Some people complain about not having a separation between when they’re working and when they’re doing personal stuff. That doesn’t bother me. If a student emails me at 1 a.m. and if I’m still awake, I’ll email back. I don’t shut work off at certain times. For me, it’s nice. I can take my dogs out for an hour in the middle of the day, which will be important when it's dark in the winter. It just makes things a lot easier.

Least favorite part of social distancing:

I brought in 70 graduate students in the fall of 2019. For me, the worst part is not being able to spend the time I would normally spend with them face-to-face. We’re together on Zoom all the time and on the phone, but it's not really the same experience for them as it would have been before Covid-19.

Just for Fun

Favorite book: Team of Rival

Favorite movie/TV show: Animal House, CaddyShack, Groundhog Day

Favorite Spotify playlist/band/song: Classic Rock

Favorite local restaurant: Mario’s Fishbowl

Favorite local activity: Hunting with my labrador retrievers