Sacramento Electrofishing Training

Patrick Cooney's avatar
Patrick Cooney
Thursday, February 02, 2017

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 a year, California Department of Water Resources, along with ESA, ICF, and FISHBIO contracted Smith-Root to train and certify their Electrofishing crews in best Electrofishing practices and safety. Patrick Cooney, Director of Electrofishing Science, and Phong Nguyen, Research Scientist, provided the two day training in Sacramento and Clifton Court Forebay.

Students in the class ranged from having thousands of logged hours to zero hours of Electrofishing experience. Despite the differences in experience, all students demonstrated a measurable improvement in comprehension and execution of methods in the field. All members expressed tremendous value and utility in the course.


The newly certified scientists will use Smith-Root Electrofishing boats to collect and move fish away from the water intake facility in the Clifton Court Forebay. They will also collect fish and implant tracking devices in fish to monitor movement of fish within the Sacramento Bay Delta region.

While on the field day of the course, we captured striped bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, silversides, channel catfish, and sculpin with several boat electrofishers. Additionally, a few large chinook salmon were spotted but were not collected. Proper Electrofishing settings were derived through a quickly taught process, and all fish rapidly recovered from collection once placed in the recovery tank, indicating proper procedures.

Smith-Root conducts quarterly training sessions at its Vancouver, Washington headquarters that are open enrollment. We also offer private training, like the one described above, at offsite locations. Please check for upcoming classes or contact us if you have any questions or would like to schedule training.