In early June project officers Louise and Geoff attended an Electric Fishing course in Launceston. The course was organised and hosted by the Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT) and presented by the Institute of Fisheries Management.
Along with 5 members of WRT staff and a student, Louise and Geoff were introduced to the skills needed to perform an electric fishing survey. Theory and safety were covered on day one, and on day two participants were tested on the subjects covered and all passed.
In the afternoon participants put the theory into practice and carried out some electric fishing on the nearby River Kensey, capturing plenty of adult trout, trout parr and fry; good numbers of salmon parr and fry; an adult grayling, and a large eel.
Several ammocoetes were also discovered in a silty back eddy; these are the larval stage of lampreys. About 10 cms in length, as thick as a bootlace and blind, this was the 1st time that most participants had come across these interesting creatures.
After being identified and counted all the fish and the ammocoetes were returned unharmed to the river.
Why was this training undertaken? Electric fishing is a method used to survey fish numbers and species. The fish are caught in hand nets after being momentarily incapacitated by a mild electric current generated from a battery powered backpack carried by an operative. After being netted and transferred to containers of oxygenated water, the fish are carefully identified and counted before being released safely back into the river. In August, Louise and Geoff will be helping to carry out electric fishing surveys at some 40 sites across the Teign catchment, led by WRT. These surveys will tell us about the fish populations, and will show us which sites have improved or declined based on previous years surveys.