Two Wires, One Stream

West Virginia doesn’t quite parallel Pennsylvania in the ways of electroshocking.

Almost solely in the mountain state do fish biologists use parallel wires to shock fish, and I had the honor of experiencing this unique way in the summer and again on Sept. 12 for a lab. The same troupe of DNR officers ran the wires again, which made for a repeat of an educational and incredibly fun experience.

Dunkard Creek runs through PA and West Virginia, but we stayed on the southern side for the lab. In class, we’re studying vertebrae history, which consists mostly of fishes, so this lab physically brought the course material to life.

Plus, I did manage to grab the biggest channel cat of the day, one about the length of my forearm.

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While serving as a newspaper intern for the Reading Eagle in Pennsylvania, I interviewed PA Fish and Boat officers for various stories. It turns out that parallel wire shocking is extremely localized in the state of West Virginia; maybe some bordering southern states occasionally use the wire method, but most turn to backpack shockers.

The WV DNR officers said that parallel wire shocking is their best method for sampling mid-sized streams because they don’t have to lug all that heavy backpack equipment through streams. Also, there’s more surface area covered at a time, making the shocking faster and more efficient.

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