Written by Industry Experts David Beasley, Fisheries Biologist and Director of Fisheries and Aaron Cushing, Fisheries and Wildlife Biologist and Environmental Scientist
Electrofishing is a fish sampling tool used to gather fish population data, allowing managers to make accurate decisions and improve pond management techniques. Using an electrofishing boat, the electric field produced affects a small area of water in front of the vessel where fish are momentarily stunned and safely collected with dip nets. The question most people ask when they hear about electrofishing is: “Doesn’t that hurt the fish?” Surprising to most, the process is safe and harmless to fish. Once netted from the water, the fish are placed into a live well on the boat where they quickly recover and start swimming around. Once safely on board, length and weight data is recorded, observations are made, and fish are released without harm back into their environment. If desired, fish can be marked with PIT tags or Floy tags to determine growth rates when recaptured in the future. The data collected during electrofishing provides insight into current and future issues, giving pond managers the needed facts to make a fishery productive and keep it productive. In addition to collecting data, undesired species of fish or overpopulated size classes of predators can be removed from the waterbody.