Electro Fishing

Iowa DNR used radio tracker to find an area where Walleye frequent, the honey hole. Then they go on one of their shocking campaigns, which they’ve been doing for decades with nothing useful to show for it – fishing is still not as good as other pools. Once they find these fish and shock them weekly, not only do those wingdams become unproductive for fisherman, but wingdams in a ten mile radios is also affected. I don’t know why but I know the fish disappear. It could be the fish become afraid of outboard motors running near them, could be that they fear electric trolling motors, both of which sounds like a shock boat over them and they get the heck out of there. It could be that a lot of these fish die. It could be that these fish become afraid to feed, because they were shocked on feeding areas.

Last year I talked to a dnr researcher. I was telling him that something happened to the fish on pool 13, they are no longer in areas they have always been in. His reply was that he was catching plenty of fish. He left out the part about electro fishing he was using to shock his fish and catching them with a net when they floated to the top. He left out the part about shocking the areas I was referring to. So for the last 2 years my fishing has been the worst ever and now I find out they have been shocking that same area heavily for the last two years.

Fisherman have to watch the water levels, flow and clarity to see if it’s worth going or where they can go and fish when things aren’t right for the main channel. Electro fisherman don’t have to look at any of that because they use a big motor to move around, the fish don’t have to be able to see a lure, the fish don’t have to be biting, they shock fish in any condition.

They hold their private tournaments, several shock boats go out at the same time and they keep their fish in a tank, weighing, measuring and getting photos of themselves holding up fish, fish that aren’t even legal size to regular fisherman that have to use a pole and reel.

They don’t have to worry about finding fish, they just find a few and surgically implant radio trackers and follow the fish to the best spots where Walleye congregate. Then they shock the hell out of them, keep records of their catches and show off to other fisherman what they “caught”. Then by the time the fish start to recover and feed again, they are right back out there shocking again. So much for fish feeding. Then they go back again and again, all year long until it freezes up. As soon as it thaws out they are right back out there again shocking fish that no one else can catch because they are recovering from spawning. This continues year after year. They have been doing it as long as I have been fishing the Mississippi River, since the 70’s. The difference is now is that they have found the best spots on the river. They claim it doesn’t affect fisherman but it does. These are the same fish that show up without tens of miles on other wingdams, all of which have went dead since they started shocking these key spots two years ago. Everyone is wondering if it was the heat, or the low water or some reason that they are no longer catching fish, and all the while the electro fisherman are bragging about record catches and showing photos on the web pages.

Bass fisherman don’t know it but they also hit bass spots. The fish were there one day, gone the next, well I have seen them hit these spots and the fish are no longer catchable, they are gone. Then they return over and over making sure no one else catches these fish. These are popular tournament spots, popular for locals, I have seen this and taken photos of them doing it.

I started out Walleye fishing up at Belview and the fishing was fantastic. Now it is nothing like it was, the fish are gone. It seemed funny to me that they would bite so well one day and the day day nothing. So I thought maybe they were also feeding at night so I planned a night trip on a day they were biting. After all the fisherman went home we were all alone. that lasted about ten minutes and here come the electro fisherman. They shocked the pocket and every other good spot. They told me I had to get off the water or they would have me arrested. They had a tournament up there for two days and I took first the first day and 3rd the second day. then they came and told me the guy in second place was disqualified because he was participating in the electro fishing activities on wingdams down river. That’s right, they take fisherman on those “studies” trips where they electro fish.

If you ask them they will gladly tell you where they shock fish. This in turn sends people to these key spots and the fish that survive being shocked regularly have fishing boats over them pounding them. They call this conservation? This is not protecting fish, it is not a good thing for fish at all.

They stocked the Dixon dam area on the Rock River and a couple years later the fishing was fantastic. This lasted about two years and then the same guy who stocked the fish started electro fishing. The fish disappeared. This was instant, one day I just stopped catching anything and I was looking around all over looking to see where they went. Then I ran into the shock boat. He was going out late afternoon and hitting the shore areas all the way up and down river. I ran into them again and again. The fish were gone and never did recover. So much for their theory about shocking not affecting the fish.

They were shocking at out lower dam area at Sterling. A friend walked up and looked in their tank as they were loading up to leave one day and it was full of Bass. They said they were trading the Bass and Flathead for Pheasent in Wisconsin. I complained every time I saw them, the whole area was shallow and no fish could escape being shocked. So they started going out at night. The Bass were gone and didn’t come back for 15 years. They are just now recovering and if the electro fisherman find out about it the will be out shocking fish again. There has been photos on the internet, I have them in my files, of these same guys using nets and traps to catch the big flathead in the holes down river. They are taking photos of the guys holding up dozens of big flatheads. They saved them in their tanks for the photo op.

These guys are above the law and no one can stop them. They get paid by tax payers to eletro fish and we even furnish them with the boats to do it. I have seen wolf packs of boats take off in all directions on the Mississippi River, I have photos. They were having one of their electro fishing tournaments.

Years ago In fisherman did some articles on how the electr fishing was hurting the walleye. they are sensitive fish and don’t tank well, they like cool water and will die in no time. These guys are saving these fish in tanks for photo ops. In-fisherman claimed it caused the males to become sterile and had a high mortality rate. The DNR paints a different picture, they claim it is good for the fish and fisherman.

About Dave Tackett

Dave Tackett is from Sterling Illinois. An avid fisherman since childhood, he has fished all over the Midwest, mainly the Mississippi River pools 8-19. His home waters are pools 13 & 14. After fishing Bass tournaments for many years, he gave it up to fish for Walleye year round. He now guides and fishes for fun. He likes to take photos of the scenic places he visits on the river and likes to keep a video camera running to get footage for his Walleye DVDs. Photography is now where he most of his time working, using professional DSLR cameras and lens. These photos include landscape around the Mississippi River and the Rock River, river birds like eagles heron, egrets etc.
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