Electrofishing Principles and Safety Certification Course

Smith-Root’s class is the most widely attended electrofishing certification course, with thousands of fish scientists achieving certification over the last two decades. 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. So come join us and get certified.

Course Objectives

Attendees will receive instruction on the following topics:

  • Minimizing/eliminating potential harm to fish.
  • Proper electrofishing settings to maximize capture efficiency.
  • Electrofishing across a spectrum of water conductivities.
  • Working safely as a team in a variety of environments.
  • Techniques and settings for a variety of different species.
  • Operation and safety, including dangers to humans and fish.
  • Electrofishing techniques for lentic and lotic environments.

Upcoming Course Dates

August 14 - 15, 2024 In-person @ Smith-Root HQ Vancouver, WA, US Registration Closed

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

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Course Format

We offer two different options for you to get certified: in-person or virtual.

The in-person classes are taught over two days at our headquarters in Vancouver, Washington, USA. We go over all the information in a lively interactive discussion, while also interacting with the equipment. On the second day, we meet at a local stream and put the newly learned information into practice where attendees serve in a multitude of roles on backpack electrofishing crews.

Alternatively, we also offer entirely virtual online certification classes. Virtual classes are taught in a single day with a live interactive discussion and a live field demonstration where attendees watch and speak directly to the instructors as they carry out a backpack electrofishing survey. This format was developed during the global pandemic and has successfully been taught more than 30 times to participants from around the globe.

Whether in-person or virtual, you will receive the same valuable information. Following the course, attendees will be provided with an open-note test that will help reinforce the key concepts. Upon returning a thoughtfully completed exam, the participant will receive their official certification.

Interactive Discussion (8:00am Pacific Time)

The interactive discussion and supporting materials will include 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
An opportunity for attendees to create electrofishing scenarios for us to discuss and carry out in the field

Field Demonstration (Virtual: as part of the class; In-person: 8:00am Pacific Time on day 2)

The field demonstration will include the proper setup of backpack electrofishing equipment along with trouble shooting common issues people face in the field. The instructors will then demonstrate previously taught techniques and practices in a local stream with backpack electrofishing gear. Participants at in-person classes will also be given the opportunity to use the equipment and put their newly learned skills to use, while participants in the virtual classes will be able to provide direction to the instructors to carry out a multitude of electrofishing scenarios.


In-person Class

Participants will need to bring a pen/pencil, note pad, non-breathable waders (and associated footwear), rubber gloves, as well as snack and water bottle for the field day. Please feel free to bring your own backpack electrofishing equipment if you would like to practice using it on the field day, otherwise, we have plenty of electrofishers we will bring to the stream. Please make sure that all equipment is properly decontaminated prior to attending the class.

Virtual Class

Course will be taught using the Zoom video conferencing application. Participants will need the ability to install the required Zoom software on their system.

Systems requirements for PC, Mac, and Linux. This is only an extract of the full System Requirements list provided by Zoom.

System Requirements

  • An internet connection – broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE)
  • Speakers and a microphone – built-in or USB plug-in or wireless Bluetooth
  • A webcam or HD webcam - built-in or USB plug-in

Supported Operating Systems

  • macOS X with macOS 10.9 or later
  • Windows 10*
    Note: For devices running Windows 10, they must run Windows 10 Home, Pro, or Enterprise. S Mode is not supported.
  • Windows 8 or 8.1
  • Windows 7
  • Ubuntu 12.04 or higher

Supported Tablet and Mobile Devices

  • Surface PRO 2 or higher running Win 8.1 or higher
    Note: For tablets running Windows 10, they must run Windows 10 Home, Pro, or Enterprise. S Mode is not supported.
  • iOS and Android devices
  • Blackberry devices

Supported Browsers

  • Windows: IE 11+,  Edge 12+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Mac: Safari 7+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Linux: Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+

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 Instructor

Patrick Cooney, Certified Fisheries Scientist
Science Director

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).