Electrofishing is the most reliable and efficient method of sampling a fish population in a lake or pond. It has been used since the 1950’s by fisheries biologists to gauge fish health and growth in lakes and rivers, and has become the method of choice by most pond management companies for sampling private ponds and lakes throughout Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Alabama.
What Is Electrofishing?
Electroshocking fish is a relatively simple process. A brief electric pulse is sent into the water by electrofishing equipment with electrodes that hang from booms at the front of a specially designed aluminum boat; this pulse stuns fish in the immediate area of the boat, causing them to float to the surface where they can be netted, weighed, and measured, after which they are placed in an aerated live well until they have recovered sufficiently to be released back into the pond. Only a small portion of the total fish population of the pond is sampled, but from this sample we can extrapolate invaluable data about what species are present in the pond, the current population dynamics among the different species, the overall health and growth rates of each species, and whether there are any diseases present.
What Do Electrofishing Surveys Include?
Electrofishing surveys include a detailed, comprehensive management plan tailored expressly for your pond or lake, based on the results of the survey, with your angling goals in mind. As part of the electrofishing survey, we test your pH, alkalinity, dissolved oxygen levels, and visibility, and use these parameters to further inform the plan. If weed growth is present, we take photos of it and outline management options in the plan. We visually inspect your dam, watershed, and spillway, and document the quality and quantity of fish habitat. The resultant management plan is presented as a PDF mini-book that is typically twenty to thirty pages long and includes full color photographs that illustrate every aspect of the plan, laid out in order of when each action should be performed. Relative weights are provided for the target species, to let you see how your fish compare to fast-growing fish in ideal conditions.
Why Do I Need an Electrofishing Survey? Why Can’t I Just Stock Fish?
We get calls all the time from landowners who have decided they want to improve the fishing in their lake or pond. Many times they haven’t given any thought to having electrofishing surveys, and are just looking to buy some fish. Sometimes it can work to stock blindly into an existing fishery without first having a survey done; oftentimes this approach can cause more harm than good, or at best, simply be wasted money that produces no impact.
Usually when the fishing has declined, there’s a reason. Electrofishing surveys are our version of a physical examination for the doctor – it lets us see what’s going on under the water in your pond. No competent doctor makes a diagnosis without first examining the patient; in the same way, we can’t tell you what your pond most needs to become a great fishing hole without seeing the fish, and the water. What the landowner thinks is in the pond and what is actually in it are often two very different things. We have electrofished ponds that the landowner thought had hybrid bluegill, a major issue for improving the pond due to the genetic issues with their offspring, only to find no hybrid bluegill present; conversely, we have performed pond shocking in ponds for which the owner thought he had pure bluegill, only to find nothing but hybrid bluegill. We have electrofished ponds and lakes where the owner thought his bass were not growing well because of a food issue, only for us to discover that it was a genetic issue due to F1s having been stocked years earlier. Sometimes it’s not the fish at all, but the water quality; bad water quality can shut down a small pond or large lake either one.
We can honestly say that we have never electrofished a water body where we were unable to tell the landowner more than one thing he had not known previously about his water. If you have an existing lake or pond and you truly want to take it to that world-class level, electrofishing is an investment in achieving that goal, and money well-spent. Pond owners commonly like to ride with us when we are shocking their pond. It’s a way for you to see firsthand what’s in your pond right now – not to mention electrofishing is a lot of fun! Call us today and let us transform your lake or pond into the dream fishing spot you’ve always wanted through our electrofishing surveys, lake management capabilities and consulting expertise!