Boat Electrofishing


NRTG’s Boat Electrofishing course is two days in duration and includes a ½ day classroom lecture followed by a 1 ½ day field practicum session.  Taught by one of Canada’s most recognized and respected leaders and innovators in the practice of Boat Electrofishing, this highly specialized training program will provide participants with valuable skills and abilities as Boat Electrofishing Operators and Crew Members.  

Each NRTG course includes free, lifetime admission. Enrol once – come back anytime.

Who attends?

Course participants typically include current fisheries field technicians and biologists, other environmental professionals requiring electrofishing certification training, resource workers, individuals new to the industry and graduates of other natural resource-related programs. 

How do I attend?

This course is available via contract only to organizations/community groups.  To arrange a contract delivery, please contact us.

What should I bring or supply?

Leak-free chestwaders with non-slip footwear (felt, cleat or rubber soled wading shoes or wader boots), field binder with waterproof paper, appropriate field clothing, bag lunch and refreshment each day. 

Please ensure your wading equipment is free of invasives and Whirling disease. More information is found here

More Information

By the end of this course, course participants will be able to:

  • Identify regulatory requirements and best practices for boat electrofishing (e.g., Worksafe, OHS, Transport Canada)
  • Contrast the roles and responsibilities of Boat Electrofishing Certification including boat operator and crew member roles
  • Identify mandatory and applicable electrofishing standards and regulations
  • Identify different types of boat electrofishers and understand their applications and limitations (boats, electrofishing units and anode/cathode designs)
  • Manage various elements of a boat electrofishing unit, including resistance, voltage and power in an electrofishing system
  • Contrast the types of electrofishing boat units, and their components, features, limitations and capabilities
  • Contrast and define the roles and responsibilities of crewpersons (boat operators and netters)
  • Inspect, set up, test, and troubleshoot all related boat electrofishing equipment
  • Identify mandatory and optional personal protective gear, boat electrofisher safety features, hand signals, and boat safety equipment
  • Interpret site conditions and establish and monitor appropriate electrofisher settings to maximize fish capture efficiency and reduce harm to fish
  • ‘Read’ a river while operating an electrofishing boat, and adapt to changing stream flow and depth conditions
  • Identify best strategies to maximize catch efficiency while minimizing potential adverse effects to fish
  • Identify key electrofishing safety procedures
  • Respond appropriately to potentially dangerous scenarios and to a boat electrofishing-related field incident
  • Conduct standard emergency response procedures
  • Understand crew communication techniques to achieve safe and efficient sampling and consistent data collection
  • Identify types of boat electrofishing field programs and the various approaches to boat electrofishing depending on study design, habitat type, and equipment
  • Understand proper fish observation technique to maximize the quality of data that is collected
  • Operate a boat to maximize fish capture efficiency (for boat operators)
  • Net fish to maximize fish capture techniques, ensure crew safety, and reduce harm to fish
  • Identify and minimize adverse effects to fish
  • Practice proper fish holding, handling, processing, and release techniques to reduce harm to fish

This specialized training course has two prerequisites: 1) A Worksafe-approved  backpack Electrofishing Certification 2) a current and valid First Aid certification (that accompanies and is required for the backpack Electrofishing Certification).

Note: Successful completion and acquisition of a Small Vessel Operator’s (SVOP) Course (24-hour) and MED3 first aid certification(s) MAY be a mandatory provincial requirement. Please confirm in the province where you will conduct actual (paid employment) Boat Electrofishing.

Course participants may attend this course without having current and valid SVOP and MED3 certifications in place. 

Tom Boag, MSc. PBiol. has worked with fish populations and aquatic habitat since the summer of 1982 and has consulted full time since 1990. He has 30+ years of Boat Electrofishing and industry experience working with freshwater fish populations and their habitat. Tom is a respected leader and innovator in the practice of Boat Electrofishing. 

As a senior biologist, Tom has managed and participated in countless fisheries and environmental projects that address challenges to fishes and their habitat throughout Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, South and Central America, and the Arctic. 

Frequently Asked Questions

We offer this course beginning in April in interior regions throughout North America. Please refer to our Schedule page for course timing and locations.

First aid training may be obtained before or after this training program and should be in place prior to conducting electrofishing activities as a paid employee or worker.

Ensure first aid training is recognized and endorsed by Worksafe agencies in North America. This one-day training program may be referred to by different titles, such as “Occupational First Aid” or “Standard First Aid”. Consult with your provincial or state Worksafe authorities for more information.

To attend this course, students much provide and wear leak-free chestwaders and non-slip footwear (e.g., rubber, Vibram ® soles, cleats). While employed and conducting electrofishing activities, all crew members must provide and wear a hat with a brim, polarized sunglasses, leak-free chestwaders, wading belt, lineman gloves, and non-slip footwear.

You can purchase chestwaders from Canadian Tire, any flyfishing shop across Canada, Cabela’s, or industry suppliers such as Dynamic Aqua Supply (Surrey, BC), IRL Supplies (Prince George, BC), Winners Edge (Lillooet, BC), Surplus Herby’s (Williams Lake, Kamloops, Vernon BC), Forestry equipment suppliers across Canada, and other outdoor equipment outfitters.

First, always ensure your chestwaders don’t leak! You can do this easily by holding a flashlight (or your phone) in your waders in a dark room. Beams of light coming out in small pinholes might indicate a small hole. Patch using Aqua seal or Shoe Goo.  

Neoprene chestwaders are appropriate for spring, fall and winter conditions but may be too warm for summer field work. Nylon chestwaders and Gore-Tex ® or breathable chestwaders are excellent choices for most seasons, where crew members wear warm layers (e.g., fleece, polypropylene) underneath during colder field conditions.

Felt soles can offer stable footing in most types of boat electrofishers. Wading shoes having cleats may be a poor choice for boat electrofishing, as cleated soles will be noisy and may scar the flooring in boats.

No, there is no requirement to recertify your electrofishing certificate. If there is a significant pause in your electrofishing fieldwork (e.g., four years or more), we would recommend that you recertify with NRTG. Note: all NRTG courses include free, lifetime certification. Enrol once – come back anytime.

No. Boat electrofishing is entirely unique from backpack electrofishing and requires different skills, abilities and knowledge. NRTG offers both backpack and boat electrofishing certification. Please refer to our Courses page for more information.

There is no current requirement to recertify Boat Electrofishing Certification in BC.