Signature electrofishing moves

by Brandon Peoples

In this week’s post, I break from our normal scientific articles to add a bit of field work humor with a comic.

Non-lethal and incredibly effective, electrofishing is one of the most important sampling techniques in a fish biologist’s toolbox. But like any sampling method, electrofishing can be biased toward catching certain species or size classes of species. With numerically rare or hard-to-capture species, one individual can be the difference between determining whether or not an important species is present in an area.

After electrofishing for a while, some biologists develop their own unique strategies for making sure no fish goes unaccounted for. Being in the field most days for the past 6 weeks, I’ve become increasingly aware of a couple of my own ‘signature moves’.

One move is The Backwash, which is useful for those hard-to-get fish that get stuck in root wads or undercut banks…


Another move is The Raccoon Paw, a last-resort move used only when fancy net tricks have failed…


So…what’s your signature move?

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. Gus Engman says:

    Hahaha this is a great one! I just had a few budding electrofishers out for the first time at a location with a ton of undercut banks and we definitely had to utilize both of these moves.

  2. Jessica says:

    Used both of these today, as well as my signature “figure 8” where there are so many fish floating downstream of the anode you have to move your net quickly in a figure-8 motion to keep from missing any fish outside the edges of your net…

  3. Grant Lab says:

    This is great! We have used both of these this summer! One slight variation on these is one we call “e-noodling”, which involves “raccoon pawing” under the undercut bank after “the backwash” fails.

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