Biologists use electrofishing to test health of fish

Americans spend nearly $48 billion annually fishing for fun, and they like knowing what’s in the water with their bait. To provide answers to that question, fisheries biologists conduct studies by “electrofishing.”
A boat is equipped with fiberglass arms that support a metal pole that hangs off the bow over the water. Metal cables hang from the pole into the water, and an insulated wire connects the cables to an electrical generator in the rear of the boat.
With the current flowing and cables in the water, a foot pedal is pressed to electrify the water with a six-amp charge that extends outward and downward as much as eight feet to zap the fish.
Temporarily incapacitated by the weak electrical charge, fish large and small are stunned and float motionless to the surface. They’re then scooped up in a net and deposited into a holding tank.
The incapacitated fish are then given a “fishy-physical.” They’re measured, weighed and checked for illnesses and parasites. A scale or two are also removed for aging.
The scales, which have growth rings similar to a tree, indicate the fish’s age and provide evidence of its food sources in the body of water in which it lives.
Electrofishing can also be used to assist in collecting eggs to be hatched in state hatcheries for future stocking efforts, a common practice during the walleye runs on the Sandusky and Maumee rivers.
Once the fish snap out of their stupor, they’re released to swim away. They rarely suffer any lasting effects from the electrofishing process.
Data collected during successive years of electrofishing provides biologists with valuable information about how to best manage Ohio’s lakes.
Along the Way:
Now is the perfect time to prepare for Ohio’s wild turkey hunting season. Turkey season opens Monday, April 21, and the youth season is Saturday and Sunday, April 19-20. Here are a few suggestions to help get you prepared.
• A valid Ohio hunting license and spring wild turkey permit are required to hunt wild turkeys. You can purchase your license at or from a participating license agent.
• Many wild turkeys are gobbling and strutting now. Your hunt may be more successful if you find turkeys and observe their movement patterns before the season starts.
• Pull those hunting clothes, boots, decoys, and calls out of storage and make sure they are ready for the season.
• Pattern your shotgun and practice estimating distances. This will help you feel confident that a wild turkey is in range when you pull the trigger.
Study Ohio’s hunting regulations at Make sure to get written permission from landowners if you plan to hunt on private property, know legal hunting hours, and know how to properly check a harvested turkey.
Step Outside:
• Maumee and Sandusky River walleye fishing will continue to improve as water temperatures climb. The increase in river flow should trigger more spawning. Fish surveys are seeing lots of nice fish in the river.
• Today: Flag City Toys that Shoot. Buy, sell and trade air, pellet, BB and cap guns. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Lighthouse Banquet Facility, 10055 U.S. 224 West, Findlay.
• Today-tomorrow: Maumee Valley Gun Collectors Show. Lucas County Recreation Center, Maumee.
• Tomorrow: Ham Shoot, Fostoria United Sportsmen’s Club. Traps open at 10 a.m. 1324 U.S. 23, Fostoria.
• Tomorrow: Sporting clays, opens 8 a.m. UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• April 19: 3-Gun shoot. Set-up begins at 9 a.m. UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• April 27: IDPA Shoot, registration begins at 9 a.m. UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard, OH 45867-0413 or via email at



About the Author