Comparison of Electrofishing and Experimental Gill Nets for Sampling Size Structure and Relative Abundance of Blue Catfish in Reservoirs
Nathan T. Evans, Daniel E. Shoup, and Kurt E. Kuklinski
Abstract.—Despite increasing popularity of blue catfish Ictalurus furcatus with anglers, effective management of blue catfish has been hindered by limited information on appropriate sampling methods. We compared the efficiency, precision, and accuracy of low-frequency pulsed-DC electrofishing and experimental gill nets for use in estimating relative population abundance and size structure in 12 reservoirs. Electrofishing yielded greater catch rates and lower mean relative standard error (RSE) than gill nets. Similarly, the number of samples necessary to achieve a RSE = 0.25 was lower with electrofishing in most reservoirs. Gill-net catch per unit effort (CPUE) and electrofishing CPUE were strongly correlated (P < 0.01), and length-frequency distributions were also similar between gear types in many reservoirs examined. Where they differed, there was no consistent pattern, suggesting that differences were due to low precision (caused by low numbers of fish captured) rather than gear bias. Our analysis indicated that both low-frequency pulsed-DC electrofishing and gill netting effectively measured relative abundance of blue catfish. In most cases, electrofishing was more efficient at estimating CPUE and size structure (requiring fewer samples to achieve comparable precision); thus, we recommend using this gear when estimating these parameters for reservoir blue catfish populations.