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Using Data from an Electrofishing Survey to Formulate a Fisheries Management Plan

Whether your goal is to cultivate an epic trophy fishery, a relaxing fishing spot, or just to ensure the health and balance of your aquatic ecosystem, electrofishing is an important strategy for lake and pond owners. Electrofishing is an assessment tool that helps reveal fish species and populations present in a waterbody, as well as a wealth of other important information. With this data in hand, you can begin creating the fishery of your dreams.

Electrofishing assessments are performed from a boat outfitted with equipment that produces and directs an electrical current through the water. As a result, nearby fish are temporarily stunned and collected using nets for onboard analysis. Electrofishing is very safe for fish and crew when performed by an experienced professional who understands the precise electrical settings and outputs required for a successful survey. 

In most surveys, fish are measured, weighed and occasionally tagged for future identification. A fisheries biologist may also make note of parasites, sores, or diseases that may be plaguing the fish. After the data is collected, biologists release fish back into the water completely unharmed. 

This information, which can be used to estimate species abundance, size structure, and many other conditions, is extremely valuable; it serves as the foundation on which a successful fisheries management plan is designed. With a wealth of data on hand, your fisheries biologist can make more well-informed recommendations around fish stocking, invasive species removal, the introduction of fish cover or an aeration system, fertilization or nutrient remediation, liming, water quality enhancements and other custom solutions. 

electrofishing

Electrofishing surveys are an important tool used to gain insight into a fishery, and can be especially revealing for lakes and ponds with limited information on file. It’s important to note that electrofishing assessments are not a one-time project. Depending on the goals for the waterbody, a fisheries biologist may recommend completing assessments every few years, twice a year, or at other frequencies. Generally, the sooner you hope to see positive results, the more often an electrofishing survey is needed so you can continue to modify the strategy in place to help achieve your goals.

electrofishing data
Example of data gathered over two year period via electrofishing

In addition to utilizing electrofishing assessments to help promote a balanced fishery, it’s important to implement other strategies that encourage a healthy ecosystem. An integrated Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) will help ensure your fishery stays on track. FMPs are uniquely designed to match the distinct characteristics, goals, timeline and budget of each and every fishery. The backbone of any FMP is regular water quality testing, which can reveal important information about a fishery’s alkalinity, salinity, nutrient load, pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen levels and more. Over time, a fisheries biologist can analyze and track the data to help identify areas of need.

An FMP can also help fisheries biologists make more informed decisions about the future of a lake or pond. Water quality tests may reveal a fishery requires liming and fertilization in order to stay on track to achieve your goals. The installation of an aeration system may be necessary to destratify the waterbody, reduce stress on the fish, and prevent potential fish kills. Data on increasing nutrient levels may be used to predict and impede a potential harmful algal bloom, which can produce toxins that are dangerous for both fish and humans. Ultimately, an FMP will facilitate the collection of data necessary to most quickly and cost effectively achieve your long-term fisheries goals.

Think of your fisheries goals like other goals in your life. If you desire something, you use the best knowledge, technology and resources available to you to achieve it. Your fisheries goals should be no different, whether you dream of a lake full of trophy fish or a spot for your family and friends to kick back and relax.

Find Your Solution

Contact the experts at 888-480-LAKE (5253) for all of your lake, pond, wetland and fisheries management needs. 

SOLitude Lake Management is a nationwide environmental firm committed to providing sustainable solutions that improve water quality, enhance beauty, preserve natural resources and reduce our environmental footprint. SOLitude’s team of aquatic resource management professionals specializes in the development and execution of customized lake, pond, wetland and fisheries management programs that include water quality testing and restoration, nutrient remediation, algae and aquatic weed control, installation and maintenance of fountains and aeration systems, bathymetry, mechanical harvesting and hydro-raking, lake vegetation studies, biological assessments, habitat evaluations, and invasive species management. Services and educational resources are available to clients nationwide, including homeowners associations, multi-family and apartment communities, golf courses, commercial developments, ranches, private landowners, reservoirs, recreational and public lakes, municipalities, drinking water authorities, parks, and state and federal agencies. SOLitude Lake Management is a proud member of the Rentokil Steritech family of companies in North America

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