Course Description

Course ID: 
Fishery & Biology
Continuing Education Units: 

Electrofishing is an effective way to sample freshwater fish populations. However, electrofishing may cause fish injury or mortality. Proper balance between efficient sampling and minimal harm is achieved through the knowledge of electrofishing principles and proper use of the techniques and equipment available.

This unique four-day course will cover the principles and practices for both boat and backpack electrofishing through two classroom days and two field days. Days 1 and 4 will be spent in the classroom, and days 2 and 3 will be spent in the field, during which the concepts discussed in class will be demonstrated and practiced by attendees. 

During the Backpack field trip, the class will visit a stream/river/creek and each attendee will operate the equipment under the guidance of the instructor.

During the Boat portion of the course, the class will be taken on an electrofishing equipped craft, and each person will have the opportunity to practice using the boat-based electrofishing system.

These two days of field exercises provide attendees with real-world experience applying the concepts discussed in the classroom. The combination of classroom lecture, field demonstration, and participation exercises gives attendees the knowledge and basic experience they will need to safely and effectively electrofish.

Boat-Backpack Electrofishing: Principles and Practices is intended to meet the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) training requirements for electrofishing field staff. The NMFS guidance and training requirements document may be downloaded here.

You may register online or by calling the Northwest Environmental Training Center at 435-270-3274.

Please wait to receive a course confirmation email, roughly one month prior to the class, before making any non-refundable travel arrangements.

Reduced tuition is available for Native American tribes, government employees, nonprofits, students and AFS, NAEP, NEBC, TAEP members.


Attendees will receive a course manual containing workshop proceedings and reference material.

Intended Audience: 

This course is intended for biologists, field personnel, and other professionals seeking an improved understanding of the principles and techniques of electrofishing.

More Information

Course Topics


Electric Circuits and Fields

·      Principles and terminology

·      Characteristics of AC, DC, and pulsed waveforms

·      Power transfer

·      Electric field characteristics

·      Effects if size, shape and spacing of electrodes

·      Water conductivity measurement


Fish Behavior and Welfare

·      Fish reactions in AC, DC and pulsed DC fields

·      Attracting fish for capture

·      Causes and reductions of fish stress

·      Types and causes of fish injury

·      Reducing fish injury and mortality

·      Effects of electroshock on fish eggs and invertebrates

·      Obtaining permits for boat electrofishing


Backpack Electrofishing Systems

·      System components

·      Types of equipment

·      Evaluating output

·      Troubleshooting problems


Backpack Operations and Safety

·      Safe use of backpack electrofishing equipment

·      Common safety issues

·      Safety policies

·      Crew organization

·      Role of first aid and CPR training


Boat Electrofishing Systems

·      System components

·      Types of equipment

·      Evaluating output

·      Troubleshooting problems

·      Understanding settings

·      Safety features


Boat Operations and Safety

·      Safe use of boat electrofishing equipment

·      Common safety issues

·      Safety policies

·      Crew Organization

·      Role of first aid and CPR training


Field Trip Exercises

·      Waveform output evaluation

·      Electrode resistance measurement

·      Electrical field mapping

·      Voltage threshold for fish capture

·      Fish capture techniques

·      Fish holding, handling, and release

·      Field data requirements


Sampling Design and Applications

·      Goal-oriented designs

·      Factors affecting electrofishing efficiency

·      Use and validity of electrofishing data

·      Development of standardized power tables

What to Bring

Please bring a scientific calculator and a pen or pencil, and notepad if you would like to take notes (you may also choose to take notes in your book). Lunch will be on your own, but drinks and snacks will be provided throughout the day. Lunch will be provided on the field trip days. 

Billing Information

In order to guarantee a space in a course, the tuition must be paid in full TWO WEEKS before the first day of the course by either check or credit card. State and government agencies paying with a purchase order are allowed payment under the two-week time frame if a copy of the purchase order is received by NWETC.

If You Need to Cancel


  • With 31 or more days notice, we will offer a 100% refund or credit towards a future course. The credit is good for one year and may be applied to any course.
  • With 30-8 days notice, we will offer a course credit towards a future course. The credit is good for one year and may be applied to any course.
  • With fewer than 8 days notice, there is no course credit available

*Please note that attendee replacement is welcome at any time

Disability Accommodations

Disability Accommodations:

No upcoming offerings

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