May 17, 2016: All the fishes got a shock to their hearts with a West Virginia-bred form of electroshocking: parallel wire electrofishing.
With some equipment and knowledge from the WV DNR and stream access from the West Virginia State Police Department, the class got to uncover the fishes of Stonecoal Creek . Parallel wire electrofishing is when an anode and a cathode run in two separate wires next to each other. The electricity runs within the area of those two wires.
Chest waders were a must, so my hip waders were useless (I know, Dad, I should’ve brought the other pair). Luckily, the DNR lent me a pair and the ones pictured didn’t leak. The second location’s weren’t as waterproof, but the leakage didn’t dampen my spirits.
After shocking the first section of the stream, we learned how to ID all of the fish. Turns out not all small fishes are minnows, and even that is just a family.
This male striped shiner boasts his tubercles, bumps on his face that help build nests, defend territory, and attract mates. PC: Jillian Clemente
A striped shiner is infested with parasites. PC: Jillian Clemente
Monisha Mahalaha checks out a sucker fish. PC: Jillian Clemente
A sucker gets its weight and length checked out. PC: Jillian Clemente
The second run was a five-minute drive away from the first site but just as beautiful. Sure, there was a chill in the air and the water wasn’t too warm, but it wasn’t coming in over our waders this time.
Kyle and Cory Hartman walk the bridge to view the electrofishing going on underneath. PC: Jillian Clemente
There was a moment during the second run of electrofishing where some managed to look up and smile. PC: Jillian Clemente
A bridge over electrofished waters proved a great vantage point for an overview of parallel wire electrofishing. PC: Jillian Clemente
Students actively search for and scoop up shocked fish to study later. PC: Jillian Clemente
The best part? We didn’t have to ID the second set of fish. Plus, we got to do three seine net runs and caught a few fish and crayfish. Seine nets are horizontally stretched across a stream and a line of people kick up the bottom of the stream to uncover and chase down organisms. The bottom is weighted and the top floats.
Seine net kickers line up to commence kicking. PC: Jillian Clemente
Students kick up the bottom of this stretch of the river to chase down some fishes and organisms into the net. PC: Jillian Clemente
Students hold striped shiners that were uncovered during the kicking of Stonecoal Creek. They were studied because they were caught in the seine net. PC: Jillian Clemente
One crayfish wanted to, um, “hold on” to his buddy. PC: Jillian Clemente
The ladies of fisheries camp (yes, there are others!) got an awesome squad pic as well. We’re fancy, tough, and our favorite fish is the greenside darter.