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Electrofishing important for bass management

Anglers and boaters may see strange looking boats on state lakes beginning February and March. Each spring, fisheries personnel from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) use the odd-looking boats to conduct their annual largemouth bass electrofishing surveys.

Electrofishing boats use one or two long booms, which extend out several feet in front of the boat. Thick cables or a basketball-sized metal ball dangle from the booms into the water. A generator located on the boat sends a powerful electrical current through the cables or ball, which sends out a large field of electricity into the water surrounding the boat. Any bass near the boat become stunned which allow fisheries workers to use long dip nets to scoop the bass up and place them into a holding tank.

According to Barry Bolton, ODWC assistant chief of fisheries, electrofishing is an effective way of determining the condition of bass populations.

"First of all, electrofishing does not harm the bass. The current stuns the fish, but they are released unharmed once we weigh and measure the fish," said Bolton. "Among several parameters, our fisheries crews use electrofishing to determine the relative size, abundance and condition of bass. We then compare these findings to previous year's results to determine how our management strategies are working on a particular lake. The information we gain through electrofishing often leads to specific bass regulations such as changing a 14-inch minimum length limit to a 13-16-inch slot length limit on lakes that have a high abundance of small bass, but with slow growth rates."

Largemouth bass fishing and management will be the featured topic of an upcoming episode of "Outdoor Oklahoma" February 3 at 800 a.m. on OETA-The Oklahoma Network. ODWC fisheries biologist, Gene Gilliland joins well-known bass fisherman, Chuck Justice, on McGee Creek Lake in southeast Oklahoma. Among many topics the pair will discuss the concern surrounding the Largemouth Bass Virus which has been documented on several Oklahoma lakes.

Outdoor Oklahoma features such topics as fishing, hunting; and fisheries, game and non-game wildlife management. The 30-minute program can be seen on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sundays at 800 a.m. and Saturdays at 600 p.m. Outdoor Oklahoma can also be seen on the following television stations KSBI Network (greater OKC metro area), Mondays- 500 p.m., Thursdays-10 30 p.m., Saturdays-130 p.m., KTEN (south-central and southeastern Oklahoma) Sundays-5 a.m., KWEM (Stillwater), Wednesdays-800 p.m., Fridays-700 p.m. and Sundays-800 p.m.

For a complete listing of show times and channels in your viewing area, consult the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com or your local TV guide.

(excerpt from the ODWC weekly email)