If you’re ready to take your sport fishing pond up to the next level it might be time to consider electrofishing. Electrofishing is the combination of technology and hundreds of years of collective fishing experience. It’s come a long way in recent decades and those advancements in technology and equipment mean you can get a healthier lake or pond. Electrofishing is not something you just pick up and do, and it requires either a lot of research or professional help to do properly. Though it’s not as dangerous as it once was, there are many ways you can irreparably harm your fish and yourself. Electrofishing relies on planting diodes in the water and running a controlled current through to shock the fish below the water line. The stunned fish are collected, counted, and weighed to give a sample of what populations might look like throughout the lake. It’s considered to be the only way to reliably gauge the health of the fish as well, since they can be thoroughly inspected while stunned for disease and malnutrition. This provides a basis to create a feeding or fertilization plan around. People have died from electrofishing. Now these cases often include someone trying to siphon power off overhead lines to actually fish with (which is still illegal most places), but whenever water and electricity meet extra caution must be taken. The typical electrofishing boat is well capable of causing cardiac arrest. We recommend consulting commercial experts even if you own your own equipment. There’s just no substitute for first hand professional knowledge, regardless of the amount of research you do. And unless you’re prepared to brush up on marine biology, you might not know what to even look for.
If you’ve considered taking up electrofishing to maintain your own waters, there’s several things to consider. First, it can be a hefty investment to get the special aluminum boat with electrofishing equipment. You can expect to pay around $50,000 or more for a new model. The boats will utilize a gasoline-powered generator or 12v power source. The power is routed through a control box on the boat to control how much is fed to the diodes suspended beneath. Most produce somewhere in the range of 2500 to 7500 watts of power, with some going up to 10,000 watts. DC power is considered to be slightly less exhausting compared to AC when recovering fish have been recorded. There are also skiff-based and bankside electrofishing kits, but these require even more intensive safety measures to be used. These setups are usually reserved for biologists and other researchers conducting small and controlled surveys. All the gear used in an electrofishing operation must be non-conductive. This might seem like a given, but there’s lots of equipment you take for granted to not shock you every time you reach for it. Boots, nets, and gloves all need to be made of rubber or other non-conductive material. Care must also be taken of the fish involved, making sure not to overcrowd and asphyxiate them while in holding buckets or to net them aggressively and cause other harm. Angling can provide some insight to what’s in the water, but electrofishing provides actual data. Not only do you see what species are present, you can get a picture of the overall population health. Even distribution of weights and sizes of one species indicates a healthy population. Too many large bluegills cramped together can drop overall breeding rates, leading to a decrease in forage for predators. Without proper population estimates you might never know this was an issue, just assuming the fish had plenty to eat from the random large bluegills you caught. The value of electrofishing cannot be overstated if you’re looking to improve the yield of your sport fishing pond, or just trying to better understand the health of any body of water. The danger cannot also be overstated and there’s just no assurances when the voltage is that high. Crews should be kept to a minimum to avoid confusion and all other wildlife should be kept at a good distance. It’s often best just to rely on the professionals in these cases.