A Shocking New Training!
BY PHILIP ROGERS, CARTERVILLE FWCO
In the fall of 2014 Service employees from Ashland, Carterville, Columbia, and Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices (FWCO) all came together for a week long electrofishing advanced practicum course. There have been hands on electrofishing courses offered in the past but this was the first time that the course was offered in a new and unique way.
On the first day of class, two world renowned electrofishing experts Alan Temple and Jan Dean asked us what our objectives were for the training. This is different than training courses we are used to attending. Typically, there is a set schedule and learning objectives. Here, we set the schedule and learning objectives. Alan and Jan had some core learning for us, but for the most part they focused on what our wants and needs were.
The class boiled down to answering a pretty simple question for us here at Carterville FWCO. How can we be more effective and efficient when it comes to electrofishing? We have all had experiences in the past where we were in the boat with a seasoned veteran of electrofishing. The training that a new fish technician or biologist usually gets is, “just crank it up ‘till you start seeing ‘em roll!” While this works to some extent, this hands-on practicum really gave us a good answer to our question. To be more effective and efficient we need to have a clear understanding of our objectives, our equipment, and how electricity, water, and fish interact.
The in-depth conversations about theory, lab trials, and field trials all helped to build the big picture. Some of the topics covered in great detail were field mapping, standardizing by power, and standardizing by boat among many others. We now know which settings are appropriate depending on the body of water, what fish we are interested in sampling, and what equipment is available. The most important thing we learned is why we are setting electrofishing sampling up the way we are and how we can adjust to get the best results. There are some simple tools to measure the outputs of all our different boats and adjust as necessary to achieve the desired results.
For someone that spends a large majority of their time behind the controls of an electrofishing unit, this class is a must! Everyone here at Carterville FWCO felt that we left the class with valuable information that will enable us to perform our jobs better. We would like to thank our instructors once again for taking the time to pound all this information into our heads. Give the class a shot and I bet you will be “shocked” to see what you learn!