The electrical output of electrofishing equipment is commonly standardized by using either constant voltage or constant amperage, However, simplified circuit and wave theories of electricity suggest that standardization of power (wattage) available for transfer from water to fish may be critical for effective standardization of electrofishing. Electrofishing with standardized power ensures that constant power is transferable to fish regardless of water conditions. The in situ performance of standardized power output is poorly known. We used data collected by the interagency Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) in the upper Mississippi River system to assess the effectiveness of standardizing power output. The data consisted of 278 electrofishing collections, comprising 9,282 fishes in eight species groups, obtained during 1990 from main channel border, backwater, and tailwater aquatic areas in four reaches of the upper Mississippi River and one reach of the Illinois River. Variation in power output explained an average of 14.9% of catch variance for night electrofishing and 12.1 % for day electrofishing. Three patterns in catch per unit effort were observed for different species: increasing catch with increasing power, decreasing catch with increasing power, and no power-related pattern. Therefore, in addition to reducing catch variation, controlling power output may provide some capability to select particular species. The LTRMP adopted standardized power output beginning in 1991; standardized power output is adjusted for variation in water conductivity and water temperature by reference to a simple chart. Our data suggest that by standardizing electrofishing power output, the LTRMP has eliminated substantial amounts of catch variation at virtually no additional cost.
Additional publication details
Improving electrofishing catch consistency by standardizing power