SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has been managing the New River walleye population for nearly 20 years, and the use of electrofishing is proving to be an effective way to collect data about this popular sport fish.
Electrofishing is a common method of sampling fish populations to see how they’re doing in their habitat. Two electrodes are used to send electric currents through the water, which attracts fish and makes them easier to catch and study.
“This is a standard sampling procedure for a lot of different species,” said Mark Scott, assistant chief of fish management for the DNR. “We can set it to different frequencies and target catfish, smaller fish and bigger fish. And it doesn’t hurt the fish. It just immobilizes them.”
Once a biologist catches a fish, they weigh, measure and immediately release it back into the water. Information they collect helps the DNR set fishing regulations.
DNR biologists recently used the method to study New River walleye, also known as the Eastern Highlands walleye. New River walleye thrive in the Elk, Gauley and New rivers and can be found in the Cheat, Jennings Randolph, Summersiville, Stonecoal, Tygart and Stephens lakes. Spring, during and after the spawning season, is one of the best times for walleye fishing.
For more information about walleye regulations, anglers should check page 8 in their copy of the 2020 West Virginia Fishing Regulations.