'Zombie Bass' Caught With Electric Current


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The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is using weak electric currents to net ‘zombie bass’ in an attempt to gain a better understanding of fish populations in various TVA reservoirs.

The TVA conducts its annual spring sport fish survey to help determine the number, age, and general health of black bass and crappie populations in the TVA reservoirs. Reservoirs already surveyed according to the schedule posted on the TVA website include the Wilson, Nickajack, and Chickamauga reservoirs, among others.

The most recent reservoir to be surveyed is Wheeler Lake in northern Alabama, where according to the Star Tribune, Bernie Fuller has never seen a sight like dozens of zombie bass rising from the northern Alabama lake.

The TVA used a process called “electrofishing” where “an electric current was used to temporarily stun the fish so that they floated to the surface, where they were collected by TVA crews. The fish were then weighed, measured, and released.”

According to the Star Tribune, they’re also checked for illnesses and parasites. Within a few minutes, the fish “snap out” of their zombie-like state and are returned to Wheeler Lake.

John Justice, a TVA biologist, said the fish rarely suffer any lasting effects from electrofishing. “Generally speaking they recover within a few seconds to a couple of minutes.”

According to the TVA website, “this approach to determining fish abundance is used by state game and fish agencies and academia. In addition to accommodating state databases, the surveying method aligns with TVA Land and Shoreline Management objectives….”

Using a metal pole and three insulated wires attached to a generator at the back of the boat, the field researchers and biologists create an electric field within the lake, stunning all fish within the field. The charge extends outward and downward by as much as eight feet.

Bernie Fuller said the experience will help him determine which areas to focus on when fishing.

Image via Wikimedia Commons