The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission conducts electrofishing sampling on four major coastal rivers each spring from March through early June. It is our way to survey fish populations. We use the survey information collected from electrofishing sampling to help us assess and manage migratory populations of striped bass, American shad, hickory shad and herring.
Information collected and summarized from electrofishing sampling includes: abundance, size distribution, age distribution and sex ratios of these different fish species. Reward tags often are inserted into striped bass to learn more about angler catch rates and fish movement. This annual information is used to help determine appropriate harvest rates of each species, and to improve population structure for the benefit of recreational anglers.
Electrofishing is the primary sampling method we use to survey these fish. During electrofishing, controlled amounts of electricity are sent into the water. Fish within range of the electrical current are stunned temporarily, allowing them to be dipped from the water and placed into recirculating live wells on the boat for recovery. Electrofishing is non-lethal. The collected fish are measured, weighed, tagged, and allowed to recover in holding tanks, before being released back into the river to swim away.