Course Description

Course ID: 
BIO 407
Fishery & Biology
Continuing Education Units: 

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

This course combines classroom lecture with field demonstration/participation exercises to give attendees the knowledge and basic experience they will need to safely and effectively electrofish. It includes one day of classroom lecture with a field day during which the concepts discussed in class will be demonstrated and practiced by attendees. The class will visit a stream/river/creek and each attendee will operate the equipment under the guidance of the instructor.

The day of field exercises provides 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.

"I feel this course greatly improved my understanding of why electrofishing works" Anonymous, May 2015

“[This class provides] an excellent overview of the biological, environmental and technical considerations of e-fishing for all levels of experience. The electrofishing application in the “field” was very helpful for transfer of information and learning of topics discussed in the classroom.” B. McCrācken, June 2013


This three-day course 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.

Reduced tuition is available to employees of Native American tribes, government agencies, and nonprofits, students, and AFS and NAEP members. 

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

You may register via the registration button above or by calling the Northwest Environmental Training Center at (425) 270-3274.


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.

Once your order has been placed, you are subject to our cancellation policy regardless of the status of your invoice.

  • 31 days prior to training -> 100% refund
  • 30-16 days prior to training -> 50% refund
  • 15 - start of course -> No refund available

Attendee replacement acceptable at anytime.

Course registration fees and cancellation policy are subject to change without notice.

More Information

Course Topics

Electric Circuits and Fields

  • Principles and terminology
  • Characteristics of AC, DC and pulsed DC waveforms
  • Power transfer
  • Electric field characteristics
  • Effects of 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 backpack electrofishing

Backpack Electrofishing Systems

  • System components
  • Types of equipment
  • Evaluating output
  • Troubleshooting problems
  • Understanding settings

Backpack Operations and Safety

  • Safe use of backpack 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 storage recovery, 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

IMPORTANT (Snohomish, WA Course): Our field trip will be to Garden Creek that runs through the facility. You must bring your own gloves, waders, and wading boots but are not required to bring dip nets unless you wish. Snohomish County has issued a permit for the field trip, including the need for us to address the issue of inadvertent transport ofinvasive aquatic species on our equipment. Specifically, our gloves, waders, wading boots and dip nets must be decontaminated during the week prior to the course. If you use them within the week prior, they must be frozen for at least 12 hours and completely dried.”

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). We also recommend a laptop with Word, Excel and the ability to read PDF files. For the field, you will need chest waders or hip boots, and suitable outdoor clothing including rain gear. Depending on course location, you may also want to bring insect repellent.

We also recommend non-breathable waders

Lunch will be on your own, but drinks and snacks will be provided throughout the day.

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

Click here to be notified when this course is scheduled in your area. Please note what state is most convenient for you.

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