Skip to main content

Shocking Truths of Electrofishing

by Justin Hill



So, if you have read my previous post you now have an idea of how and why we age fish. If you haven't read it, shame on you. Go back and look for “Fish of a Certain Age”.  Those of you who have read it; you are my favorites and are ready for some more science. OK, by a show of hands how many of you have seen the odd looking noisy boats out in your local lakes? You know the ones that look like the picture on the left. You can put your hands down now, I can't see you anyway. This is a FWC electrofishing boat. Biologists use these boats to collect fish for all sorts of scientific analyses such as measuring length and weight, collecting blood samples, tagging, determining age and mercury and pesticide levels.

As the name implies, an electrofishing boat applies electric current to the water using a generator. A biologist at the front of the boat has control of a pedal switch that releases the electricity. It then travels to the poles, called booms, at the front of the boat and into the water. The electric field they produce does not kill the fish but temporarily stuns those that swim within 6- to 8-feet of the booms. The fish can then be scooped up and handled with little stress or injury. The electricity's effects on the fish are typically minimal. Several factors contribute to how long the fish remains stunned, including the size of the fish, the specie, and the temperature and conductivity of the water. In most cases, stunning occurs within the first few seconds of entering the electric field and lasts from a few seconds to several minutes. This sampling technique can be much less damaging than methods that entangle or trap fish, which may injure or even kill them. Electrofishing also does not harm the eggs of female fish; in fact, the FWC uses electrofishing to collect females for breeding at the state hatcheries.



Electrofishing is a luxury only freshwater biologists have. The conductivity of saltwater is higher than the conductivity of fish. So, in saltwater, the electricity goes around the fish instead of through it, rendering this technique ineffective for our saltwater kin. It is even less effective for anglers, considering it is illegal for you to use. Keep an eye out on your next fishing trip for these boats. FWC biologists will respectfully keep their distance to avoid disturbing your fishing. However, if you have questions, you may approach the boat if the generator – which is quite loud while operating – is off. You may also approach FWC employees near boat ramps when they are launching or loading their boats. They can answer your questions and give you information about your local lakes and rivers.

Remember, for a closer look at FWC's research like our Facebook page at facebook.com/FWCResearch.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

Refurbished 1987 Alumacraft Jon Boat | One Man's Dreamboat

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Learn

New Berkley Finisher: The All-Around Live Sonar Lure

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

New Berkley Power Switch: Powerhouse Lure Designed for Foward-Facing Sonar

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

New Berkley Krej: A Reversed Lip Jerkbait?

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

How to Install New Fuel Tanks in an Old Boat

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Videos

Testing Out the Latest from Old Town in the Marquesas

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

How to Powder Coat: Benefits of Powder Coating Metal Fuel Tanks

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

Father & Son Customize a 20' Center Console | One Man's Dreamboat

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

Best Features of the Shallow Sport X3

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Learn

How to Fix an Outboard Motor that was Submerged in Saltwater

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

Analyzing a Hurricane Damaged Boat for Restoration

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

How to Design & Build a Custom Dash Panel for a Boat

Florida Sportsman Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

Preview This Month's Issue

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Florida Sportsman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Florida Sportsman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Florida Sportsman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now