North-Central Fisheries Biologist Becomes Regional Supervisor

March 22, 2019

Ashley Nealis was recently named supervisor in the North-Central Region of the Fisheries Division in the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. (Photo Provided)

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North-Central Fisheries Biologist Becomes Regional Supervisor

A fisheries biologist who began working for the Wildlife Department as an intern in 2006 has been named Supervisor of the Fisheries Division’s North-Central Region. In her new role, Ashley Nealis oversees employees and activities involved in managing the fisheries in the public waters of Kay, Osage, Noble, Payne and Pawnee counties.

Nealis is the first female to serve as a regional supervisor in the Department’s Fisheries Division.

“My love of nature comes from my dad, and my mother was very supportive. I'm looking forward to working with everyone to make fishing the best it can be in the North-Central Region.”

Raised in Ninnekah, Nealis went on to study at Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Ecology in 2006. While at OSU, she worked as a streams intern for the Wildlife Department. She was also a member of the OSU women’s rugby team. After graduating, she worked as a research technician with the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit about a year before gaining a position with the Department in 2008. She was hired as the Department’s first Aquatic Nuisance Species Coordinator, but soon became a Fisheries Biologist in the Northeast Region.

In 2013, she earned a master’s degree in Natural Resource Ecology and Management (Fisheries and Aquatic Ecology), and transferred to the North-Central Region in 2014. Currently, Nealis is chairman of the Standardized Sampling Procedures Committee in the Fisheries Division, and is president of the Oklahoma Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.

The primary duty of biologists and technicians in each Fisheries region of the state is to manage the public fisheries resources. Among their activities are biological sampling to make science-based recommendations about stocking and regulations; coordinate development and maintenance of fishing and boating access facilities; collect broodstock for fish production; complete habitat projects; and conduct aquatic education and fishing clinics.

Activities specific to the North-Central Region include maintaining a seasonal trout fishery at Perry CCC Lake; operating a Florida largemouth bass nursery pond in cooperation with Zink Ranch, Skiatook Lake Association and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; conducting biological control efforts for invasive white perch in Sooner Lake; and fighting invasive floating yellow heart in Lake Carl Blackwell in cooperation with OSU.

Public fishing areas in the North-Central Region include Kaw Reservoir, Skiatook Lake, Sooner Lake, Lake Ponca, Bluestem Lake, Hulah Reservoir, Birch Lake, Lone Chimney Lake, Cushing Lake, Boomer Lake, Lake Perry and Lake McMurtry. The regional office is situated at the west end of the Kaw Reservoir dam.

The North-Central Region is among seven Fisheries regions in the state. The Division also operates a Streams Section, Paddlefish Research Center near Miami, and the Oklahoma Fisheries Research Lab in Norman, along with state fish hatcheries in Medicine Park, Byron, Durant and Holdenville.

The Fisheries Division is among five divisions that make up Wildlife Department operations, the others being Wildlife, Law Enforcement, Administration and Information/Education.

For more information about Fisheries Division operations and fishing in Oklahoma, go to www.wildlifedepartment.com and click “Fishing,” download the free “Go Outdoors Oklahoma” mobile app for Apple or Android, or consult the current Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide found online at www.wildlifedepartment.com or in print across the state wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.