They came not with fishing poles, but with nets and seines on Tuesday morning to catch fish in the green water behind the Paluxy River weir at Big Rocks Park.

But these men, women and children were doing a different kind of fishing. They were rescuing the fish trapped behind the weir after the Somervell County Water District began its project to drain the river so sediment could be cleaned out and to install a 30-inch-diameter metal valve for flood control and to help with future draining.

Volunteers young and old, employees with the Somervell County Water District, City of Glen Rose and representatives of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department converged on the Paluxy to take the fish out and relocate them downstream where the river empties into the Brazos near the Tres Rios resort.

Local resident Trena Sandlin-Shenk got on Facebook last week after she heard about the draining and marshaled the support of others who wanted to save the fish.

"I understand the cleaning of slime, but the poor animals (turtles, fish and snakes, etc.) that are still in what little water there is there are now being washed over into shallow areas that will very, very soon dry up," she wrote.

Others joined in on the discussion and wanted to help. The result was a heart-warming display of community roll-up-your-sleeves work to save a precious natural resource - wildlife.

As three pumps worked to lower the river's level, the water became shallow enough for the 20 or so people gathered to use seines and nets to catch the fish. They flipped and jumped as they were caught in the nets and then deposited into big plastic containers filled with river water. Then the fish were loaded into trucks and taken to the relocation area for release.

Thousands of fish - big yellow carp, small shiny sunfish, muddy catfish, gar and minnows - filled the nets. By early afternoon, it had gotten so hot and there were so many fish left that continuing the rescue was postponed until Wednesday morning.

Water district officials are urging the public to stay away from the Big Rocks weir from now on because there are some dead fish left behind and it is unsanitary. There also still may be the presence of an amoeba that in rare instances causes a fatal disease, so swimming or wading is not a good idea.

But some volunteers got down and dirty in the mud to save even the tiniest fish on Tuesday.

Darcy D'Angelo had her hands full of muddy, squirming fish at one point as her son, Mauro, helped seine. Bubba Keith and his son, Jackson, also grabbed a seine and caught a haul of silvery fish.

When the water district drained the river two years ago, only a few people came out to help save the fish, Keith recalled.

"This is impressive," he said Tuesday morning. "This is a lot more people than we had last time. We are getting it done."