Illegal Electro Fishing Practiced in Arkansas

DAISY, AR -- "Electro" fishing is used by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to track and monitor the large mouth bass population.

They use a special boat that has antenna like attachments on the front that put an electric current into the water.

"We'll cruise for ten minutes with the pedal down.  The pedal down is what makes the electricity go into the water," said Les Claybrook.

They do this in the early spring when the water is between 55 and 70 degrees.  The areas they monitor are randomly picked by a computer program.

"Electro fishing is illegal because it takes the sport out of catching the fish.  When the fish are stunned you can just scoop them up and the fish don't have a chance," said Claybrook.

If you are caught with your own ''electro fishing'' equipment you will face a hefty penalty.

"Wildlife officers can seize anything from the boat to the pickup truck to the car or whatever was used to haul the boat.  The judge will usually confiscate that stuff," said Claybrook.

"Depending on the water conductivity we'll put out anywhere from 108 volts to 1008 volts," said Claybrook.

The effect on the fish happens very fast and the fish will stay stunned for about ten minutes.  The purpose of this is to actually measure the fish.

"My partner back there will write down the information I give him.  You know the lengths of the fish," said Claybrook.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission catches the fish and then tags them using a hole punch.  They tag them, that way if they catch the fish again they know that fish has already been caught.  If a fisherman catches the fish and see's this hole in its tail they know someone's been there before.