AQUATIC WILDLIFE SPECIALIST
Though his friends and family tease that he basically fishes for a living, Gregg Cummins does, in fact, spend a lot of time at Arizona’s lakes and streams, managing various sport fish populations from Lake Mead to Camp Verde.
“There are times when I hook-and-line sample, which looks a lot like fishing,” he admits. “We also set nets and electrofish.”
One of three fisheries specialists charged with making sure the public has fish to catch in this region, Gregg is particularly proud of a trash-to-habitat project. “We get leftover polypropylene gas pipe tubing from construction projects,” he explains. Unisource Energy Services transports the materials to the local prison, where inmates stick the tubing into concrete to make something Gregg dubbed a “polyshrub.”
“So far, we’ve dropped these into Lake Mohave and Lynx Lake to provide fish habitat. Any kind of habitat in an older manmade lake gets used. Organic materials like trees, from when the lake was completed, are rotted out now. This stuff will last forever. It provides attachment points for algae and cover for young fish as well as for predators. Pretty much every kind of fish benefits.”
Greg hadn’t always planned to “fish for a living.” In 2006, he was teaching special education and coaching football at a local high school when a job opened. “I grew up thinking that working for Arizona Game and Fish would be pretty cool,” he recalls. “My best friend’s dad, Wes Martin, was the Kingman regional supervisor in those days. I got to see all the different animals, and I liked being outdoors.” But he wouldn’t have pursued that childhood dream if not for encouragement from friends at the department.
“I get to spend lots of time outdoors, which I love,” he says. “Last week, we were on Lake Mead for three days, electrofishing at night. Then over the weekend, we went to Watson Lake for a fishing event.”
“Yeah, my friends think I fish for a living,” he concludes with a chuckle. “I tell them, no, I also operate boats, canoe, camp and drive ATVs. It’s not all fishing.”