Electrofishing Principles and Safety Certification Course

This class is the most widely attended electrofishing certification course in the United States. Electrofishing is an important tool for scientists to collect a range of fishery data such as species composition, population estimates, and growth rates. Without training, improper techniques and settings can bias results and be injurious to both humans and fish. Modern equipment and proper training can improve safety and data collection.

Course Objectives

Attendees will receive instruction on the following topics:

  • Minimizing/eliminating potential harm to fish.
  • Proper electrofishing settings to maximize capture efficiency.
  • Working safely as a team in a variety of environments.
  • Techniques and settings for a variety of target species in different life stages.
  • Operation and safety, including dangers to humans and fish.
  • Electrofishing techniques as they apply to fish removals, bioassessments, fisheries characterizations, population estimates, or age and growth studies.

Upcoming Course Dates

No in-person courses are currently scheduled. Online virtual training is currently available.

Looking for alternate dates? Please inquire about availability at training@smith-root.com.

Course Format

Day One

Day One will be in our onsite classroom, with instruction focused on the following topics:

Electrofishing in Practice
Assessing the utility of electrofishing as a tool to meet your project objectives
Electrical Theory
What is electricity, how does it work in water, and how does water conductivity play a major role in my success?
Electrofishing Equipment
Evaluation of what gear and equipment is proper for a variety of sampling environments, species, and purposes
Effects on Fish
An in-depth look at past research and the potential effects of sampling on fish
Operation and Safety
Discussion about procedures and protocols to maximize safety for crew and fish
Applied Electrofishing Methods
Experimental design and techniques
Day Two

Day Two will include a demonstration of proper setup of backpack electrofishing equipment. The group will then head to a local stream with backpack electrofishing gear and execute learned techniques and practices for the first half of the day. This portion of the class will provide the students hands on familiarity with equipment operation and an opportunity to apply the information learned in the classroom on the previous day. If additional instruction is desired, instructors can provide individual training in the afternoon.


All attendees should bring a writing utensil and are required to have non-breathable chest waders, electrically rated lineman gloves, and proper footwear.

Classes Held in Vancouver, Washington

When taught at our headquarters in Vancouver, Washington, we provide lunch on Day One, backpack electrofishers, nets, bucket, and appropriate permits. If you would like to bring your own equipment to use in the class, please feel free to do so. All equipment supplied must be functional and meet our safety criteria. Once course registration is complete, additional details concerning lodging and logistics will be provided.

Classes Held at Customer's Location

If the course is provided at your location, please call about pricing. We require an organizer to provide a classroom with sufficient capacity to seat all participants and an overhead projection screen for a PowerPoint presentation. The class will also need access to a stream, a valid collection permit, and electrofishing equipment (including nets, buckets, etc.) for attendees to practice safe equipment operation and fish collection techniques learned from the class day. All equipment supplied by a host must be functional and meet our safety criteria.

Optional equipment that individuals can bring themselves include a brimmed hat, polarized sunglasses, lifejackets, sunscreen, water bottle, camera, and snacks.

Testimonials from State, Federal, Tribal, and Local agencies, as well as private industry.

Course Cost

The class taught at our Vancouver, Washington, USA headquarters costs $500 per student or is included at no cost with the purchase of any new Smith-Root backpack electrofisher. Courses held at other locations will have different costs.

Course Registration
Register Online
Course Instructor

Patrick Cooney, Certified Fisheries Scientist
Science Director

Have questions? Contact Patrick Cooney, Certified Fisheries Scientist.

Patrick Cooney is a Certified Fisheries Scientist with global fisheries research experience. Patrick’s research sites include the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, desert pools in Mexico, the largest lake in Guatemala, tidal pools in the Bahamas, the Everglades in Florida, warmwater streams in Puerto Rico, salmon aquaculture facilities in California, and coldwater streams in the mountains of North Carolina, all with diverse fish communities.

At Smith-Root, Patrick is responsible for understanding the research needs and scientific equipment demands of aquatic scientists. Relying on two decades of fisheries research and electrofishing experience, he provides expertise to fisheries scientists who utilize technology to complete their research objectives. Further, he certifies hundreds of scientists each year while instructing Electrofishing Training courses around the globe. The fundamentals of the class focus on proper deployment of electrofishing equipment to meet research objectives while ensuring personnel and aquatic organism safety. Patrick also develops and field tests Smith-Root products while leading the electrofishing product development team.

Patrick has a M.S. in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences from University of Florida and a B.S. in Biology and Marine Science from University of Miami. Patrick enjoys hiking in the Columbia River Gorge and writing for the website he co-founded (TheFisheriesBlog.com).