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Ga. wildlife agency monitors lakes with ‘electrofishing’

Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 6:20 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Georgia Department of Natural Resources is hitting the water to get an accurate look at all the fish using a technique called electrofishing sampling.

We joined them out on Lake Olmstead for the first sampling session of the season.

The boat’s running, the generator’s humming and Jay Payne is ready for some fishing.

“We’re just monitoring all the fish populations in the lake,” he said.

DNR is sampling the water, and they’re not fishing with a rod and line. Instead, it’s probes and a net.

“Fish are attracted to the probes where the current is going in,” said Payne.

It doesn’t take long for him to catch something this way. The probe gives fish in the water a little shock.

“It’s a really low amount of current, and they come out of it just fine in a minute or two,” he said.

For about half an hour, Payne is constantly on the lookout, scooping up every fish he sees.

“These samplings have been in place for a long time, and there’s an effort to do it the same way every year, so you’re not biasing any trends,” said Payne.

That’s why they come around the same time every year. When they record the findings, they want consistency. They measure and weigh each fish they catch, then thank them for their service. This data is important for DNR.

“Just monitoring how stable the populations are, and looking at different metrics like abundance and size structure, especially the sportfish populations,” he said.

As he helps get this information, Payne says it’s not a bad day at work.

Payne says they’ll be sampling lakes all over our area using this method over the next couple of months. While you might be able to catch a lot of fish that way, he says it’s a bad idea to try it because it is illegal.

“It’s fun. This is the kind of stuff we look forward to,” he said.

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