News & Events

February 22, 2023

Video: “Restoring Native Fish”

Restoring native fish in creeks and rivers in the Grand Canyon is a top priority for National Park Service Management and the National Park Fisheries program. Native fish that are found in the Grand Canyon, like the humpback chub, have become endangered for a multitude of reasons, most notably the introduction of non-native brown trout. Fisheries biologists have chosen to use Smith-Root LR-20B backpack electrofishers to monitor and assess fish populations and also remove non-native trout that live in streams and creeks in the Grand Canyon. During the initial year of the Trout Reduction…

November 19, 2020

eDNA Backpack Selected as Best Sampling Method for Freshwater Fish Detection

A new study, conducted by the Cawthron Institute, aimed to create a streamlined protocol for eDNA-based assessment of freshwater fish biodiversity in New Zealand. The report released this week details their systematic eDNA methods development process. “The key to introducing a new protocol for monitoring New Zealand fish communities is identifying a method that, when compared with the standardized netting and electric fishing methods, is as effective, can be applied to a wide range of waterways, and is more economical.” They compared multiple eDNA capture methods, two of…

December 10, 2019

GPP Retirement Party

In 1981, Smith-Root announced in the American Fisheries Society Fisheries Bulletin the very first model of the Generator Powered Pulsator, or more commonly called the GPP. It is with both sadness and excitement that we announce the retirement of the amazing GPPs. Over the last 38 years, GPP electrofishers provided you with the capability and confidence to conduct your critically important aquatic resource management and conservation research. Subsequently, we anticipate that many of you will continue to use GPP electrofishers for years to come because of the quality of craftsmanship…

July 22, 2019

Smith-Root Designs Solar-Powered Electric Barrier to Preserve Critically Endangered Mudfish Habitat in New Zealand

The Canterbury Regional Council recently completed construction on the first pulsed DC electrical barrier in New Zealand. The electrical barrier is designed to deter upstream movement of Brown Trout from the Hororata River into a tributary that contains one of the largest populations of the Canterbury Mudfish, a native fish that has a conservation status of Threatened (Nationally Critical) under the New Zealand Threat Classification System. The Canterbury mudfish (Neochanna burrowsius) is native to New Zealand and, as the name implies, is endemic to the Canterbury Plain south of…

February 13, 2019

Certifying Sapporo Salmon Scientists

Leading fish scientists and managers from Sapporo, Japan traveled to Smith-Root’s headquarters for a private Electrofishing Certification and Safety Course. Patrick Cooney, Director of Electrofishing Science, worked with a translator to stress the three important aspects of electrofishing: fish health, crew safety, and meeting scientific objectives.

June 28, 2018

Electrofishing Certification Field Day

Electrofishing Certification Course, by the numbers: 17 fisheries professionals received certification 6 States of residence 10 entities (Represented by Federal, State, County, City, Tribal, Watershed Council, and Private Consulting Firm) 4 backpack electrofishers (Apex, LR-24, LR-20B, Model 12) 1/4 mile electrofishing transect 30 Hz, 12% Duty Cycle, 300 Volts 8,488 Seconds of Effort >600 fish (sculpin, stickleback, minnow) 3 blacktail deer (mom and two fawns) visited us 6 Cedar Waxwing birds ate the aquatic insect hatch as we electrofished 2 days of awesomeness!

June 18, 2018

Saving the Canterbury Mudfish

Five species of endemic mudfish are found in New Zealand, and they are all threatened or endangered. The fish have a unique life history that allow them to live for months at a time burrowed into the stream bed while they wait for rains to fill the slow meandering streams they occupy. The problem they face is those same habitats they need for survival are also heavily used for farming practices. Additionally, the fish face pressures from non-native sport fish encroaching on the limited habitats they have left and preying on mudfish. Conservation agencies and land owners in New Zealand…

March 17, 2017

Astoria Sea Lion Deterrence Update

The Port of Astoria has experienced increasing numbers of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) hauling out on its docks. The sea lions, likely attracted to returning salmon and smelt runs in the Columbia River, completely take over the "P" dock of the East Mooring Basin, preventing small craft from mooring at the dock. Other docks in the East Mooring Basin have been damaged and destroyed by the sea lions. The Port has suffered more than $2 million in damages to its facilities, and is unable to collect mooring fees for most of the year at the "P" dock. In…

February 02, 2017

Sacramento Electrofishing Training

The 7 year drought in California has come to an end. Despite near record precipitation, Southern California still has a huge need to import large volumes of water from Northern California. Several government agencies and private companies are responsible for not only transferring water in large canals to Southern California, but they are also responsible for monitoring the impact that the water transfers have on fish. One of the most valuable tools scientists have to evaluate these impacts to fish is with Electrofishing equipment, especially Electrofishing boats. For the second time in…

January 04, 2017

New Fish Guidance System Commissioned in Italy

In December 2016, Smith-Root commissioned a downstream fish guidance system at the Franciolini Power Plant, a run-of-the-river hydropower facility on Fiume Ecino in the Province of Ancona, Italy. ENEL SpA operates the power plant and retained Smith-Root to direct downstream-migrating trout and barbel to a spillway gate rather than the power headrace gates. With assistance from Smith-Root’s partner in Italy, Aquaprogram s.r.l., a design was developed that featured a low and variable voltage pulsed DC field enabled by a pair of vertical electrode arrays. The pulsed DC field created by…

November 29, 2016

Smith-Root Assesses Salmon Barotrauma During Pier Demolition

On the weekends of October 15th and 29th 2016, Smith-Root partnered with Environmental Science Associates (ESA) to provide expertise in barotrauma assessment in 1,200 juvenile Chinook Salmon exposed to the demolition of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Pier E4 and E5. Having conducted numerous barotrauma studies previously, Dr. Jackson Gross and Alecia Hunter of Smith-Root represented one of three necropsy specialist teams who oversaw fish health assessment of 600 fish on each of the two demolition days. The team was also visited by the History Channel camera crew on the final…

September 22, 2016

Evaluating New Electro-immobilization Settings to Enhance Fish Welfare

Applying electricity to water to immobilize fish and other aquatic organisms (i.e., electrofishing) has been carried out for well over a century; however, there remains a significant amount of knowledge to be learned. Electrofishing science is a dynamic, interdisciplinary field that at minimum comprises physics, engineering, biology, and physiology. In practice, the effectiveness of electrofishing is further complicated by a variety of compounding factors: Environmental water temperature, water conductivity, habitat, etc. Biological fish species and size, lipid content, behavior, etc.…

July 08, 2016

Smith-Root Helps to Understand Why Steelhead Aren’t Surviving in Puget Sound

Each spring, juvenile steelhead exit their natal rivers and move into the Puget Sound as part of their seaward migration toward the North Pacific Ocean. Once in the salt water, these young fish migrate rapidly through the inland waters of Washington State, some of them traveling hundreds of miles in a matter of weeks as they seek their offshore foraging grounds. Unfortunately, steelhead in the Puget Sound region have experienced a long term decline in survival during this critical outmigration period since the mid 1980s, a trend that has puzzled fisheries scientists for years. This…

January 14, 2016

Invasive Carp Barrier Constructed in Southwest Minnesota

Illinois Lake is located near the town of Round Lake in Jackson County, a few miles north of the border with Iowa. The lake outlet flows southeast to the West Fork Little Sioux River. Invasive carp, including silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) and bighead carp (H. nobilis) are present in the Little Sioux River watershed. While Illinois Lake is not usually stocked with fish, it is connected at the surface to Round Lake, an important regional lake for fishing and recreation, and is regularly stocked with walleye by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It also is home to…

July 31, 2015

Create Interactive Aquatic Habitat Maps While Electrofishing

Do you electrofish and monitor aquatic habitat variables? Of course you do… it basically defines what you do in the field! Smith-Root is teaming with Lowrance (makers of BioBase, a simple to use online habitat monitoring platform), to provide fisheries scientists a free year of vegetation, substrate, and bathymetric mapping services to help you save time and money while boat electrofishing (and improve accuracy too!). “We take out the Smith-Root electrofishing boat, hit a button to passively collect habitat data while electrofishing, upload the file, get it back in less…

July 21, 2015

Smith-Root is Electrofishing

Smith-Root’s electrofishing boats continue to transform fisheries science. Our first boat was built in 1979 for the Nevada Fish and Game Department in Reno, Nevada. That 16 foot boat with a 55 horsepower Johnson motor transformed the profession of freshwater fisheries science. Fast forward to today, 36 years later, and Smith-Root continues to be the world’s largest and most dependable manufacturer of electrofishing boats. The experienced technicians, biologists, and engineers at Smith-Root continuously design and implement industry leading improvements for electrofishing boat…

April 03, 2015

ExxonMobil Sea Lion Deterrence System

In January 2014, ExxonMobil, a large, global oil company, contacted Smith-Root with a problem that required a quick solution. Construction was to commence fall 2014 on an existing oil production platform in the Santa Barbara Channel in southern California. An analysis determined that the construction noise could potentially damage the hearing of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) near the platform. California sea lions are a protected species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, and 100 or more individuals regularly haul out onto the platform’s support…

October 16, 2014

Invasive Carp Barrier Installed in Minnesota

Smith-Root commissioned the installation of an electric fish barrier in Jackson County, Minnesota. The barrier, locally referred to as "1C," was installed in the downstream end of a box culvert that passes a drainage ditch under a rural road near Brewster. The purpose of the barrier is to prevent the upstream passage of invasive carp. The barrier is located near the geographic divide that separates the Little Sioux River watershed from the Des Moines River headwaters. Because of the low topography and the extensive agricultural ditch system in the region, upstream migrating…

October 09, 2014

Electric Fish Barrier Commissioned in Norway

Smith-Root commissioned the installation of an electric fish barrier in the tailrace of Rygenefossen (Rygene Hydro Powerplant) located near Arendal, Norway. The current structure at Rygenefossen initiated power production in 1978 after replacing a former power station at the same site. The hydropower dam at Rygenefossen impounds the Nid River (Nidelva) and utilizes a hydraulic head of 38 feet. The on-site Kaplan turbine has a capacity of 56 MW and is fed by a 71-foot-long penstock. Water exits the turbine into a tunnel and travels two miles downstream before release back into Nidelva…

February 11, 2014

50 Years of Smith-Root

2014 will mark the 50th year that Smith-Root has partnered with research scientists in the conservation of fisheries. Dave Smith and Lee Root had an advanced understanding of electronics while at the University of Washington in Seattle in the early 1960s. They were in the process of developing map digitizers to aid in the evaluation of timber acreage across the Pacific Northwest when a fish biologist approached them about a concept they had heard of in Europe: Electro-Fishing. By 1964, Smith-Root was formed and the Type V Backpack Electrofisher was developed for use in streams. Over…

February 15, 2013

Lower Gar Lake Fish Barrier Commissioned

Through coordination with Iowa Department of Natural Resources and United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE), Smith-Root has designed and installed an electrical fish barrier atop the dam at Lower Gar Lake. This barrier, powered by seven 1.5kVA pulsators, covers 165 feet in width and 3.2 feet in depth. Asian carp began appearing in this area after a 2011 flooding event on the Missouri River. This barrier will prevent further carp movement into the Iowa Great Lakes. Smith-Root completed the following tasks: electrical, civil, software, mechanical, hydraulic engineering, geotechnical…

December 20, 2012

Gunnison Tunnel Electric Fish Barrier Installed

Smith-Root recently installed an electric fish barrier at the entrance of the Gunnison Tunnel in Montrose, Colorado. The Gunnison Tunnel is used to divert water from the Gunnison River to the arid Uncompahgre Valley. The tunnel opened in 1909 and at the time was the largest irrigation tunnel in the world. In 2009 the Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) announced plans for a run of river hydroelectric plant at the Gunnison Tunnel taking advantage of the pre-existing diversion called the South Canal. With a capacity of 6 megawatts, the South Canal project will provide around 5% of…

July 23, 2012

Electroanesthesia Systems Delivered to Merwin Hatchery

PacifiCorp has developed a habitat preparation plan to release live adult hatchery anadromous salmonids into Swift Reservoir, Yale Lake and Lake Merwin. The goal of this plan is to prepare the bodies of water for future juvenile handling facilities by using the adult hatchery salmonids to enrich the waters with nutrients and to till the gravel as the released hatchery adults attempt to spawn. As part of this plan PacifiCorp is modifying the Merwin Dam fish handling facility with additional water pumping systems in order to increase fish attraction flows and a new fish sorting and…

March 22, 2010

Smith-Root Assists with Hemlock Dam Fish Removal

Hemlock Dam (Trout Creek, Wind River watershed in southwest Washington) was de-watered prior to dismantling in the summer of 2009 to allow unobstructed upstream/downstream passage of Lower Columbia River steelhead, an ESA-listed species. Smith-Root, Inc. is proud to have supported this effort by sending staff biologist, Lisa Harlan, along with Smith-Root backpack electrofishers (LR-24s), to assist in removing fish as the stream above and below the dam was de-watered. The removal of fish was accomplished using backpack electrofishers, a tote-barge equipped with a 5.0 GPP Electrofisher…


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