Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Fishing with Power!
Midwest Region, June 20, 2008
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Water and electricity – my parents always told me not to mix the two, but that is precisely what we do when we electrofish.  Applying electrical fields to the water is a common fish sampling technique that can be highly effective and safe when done properly.  Proper electrofishing technique is the aim of “Principles and Techniques of Electrofishing”, a four day long National Conservation and Training Center (NCTC) course.  This June, Columbia, Missouri was host to this course taught by Dr. Alan Temple and Dr. Jan Dean.  Participants traveled from as far away as New Mexico and Michigan, although the majority of the class was from Missouri.  The thirty-six students represented several different agencies, including:  USFWS, Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri DNR, Arkansas Game and Fish, USGS, and the Iowa DNR.  


The first day of the course focused on basic electrical theory and circuits.  On day two we examined electrical fields in the water.  By day three we were ready to apply some of the principals we learned to on-the-water situations.  The gear was packed up and hauled out to nearby Little Dixie Lake and students were encouraged to bring their electrofishing boats and backpack units.  Dr. Temple examined the boats, pointing out safety features, different types of systems, and ways the boat designs could be improved.  Dr. Dean tested the backpack units and boats by mapping voltage gradients and measuring electrode resistance.  We also had the opportunity to shock a nearby stream, allowing us to examine the effectiveness of backpack electrofishing.  Day three culminated with a fish fry, put together by Columbia NFWCO project leader Tracy Hill, with help from Deb Turner and Andy Starostka.  On day four we looked at fish response to electrofishing and talked about safety.  Then we were ready for the final exam.


Having a well trained staff is critical in the pursuit of good science.  The knowledge and skills we gained from this four day course will allow us to electrofish with greater efficiency in a more standardized fashion.  This course allows us to meet the Science and Technology goal of the Fisheries Vision by providing appropriate scientific and technologic tools and by sharing these tools with partners.  Principles and Techniques of Electrofishing also meets the Workforce Management goal by providing state-of-the-art training and technologies, expanding our knowledge and improving opportunities for professional achievement.     


Contact Info: Colby Wrasse, 573-234-2132 x30, colby_wrasse@fws.gov
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