Column: Shock treatment an option for invasive goldfish

Shuswap Outdoors by Hank Shelley

Rumball Creek is a pretty little stream flowing off Mt. Ida, below Foothill Road, through farm field’s, and ending at the Salmon River.

Because of a habitat and pollution concern from a property, it was decided we would electro-shock the system to determine the resident trout population.

Bob, our DFO habitat tech at the time, myself, and a first aid chap, walked the stream to find a number of trout. Used like a metal detector, the wand emits a 12-volt jolt, stunning but not killing the fish. Likewise, the black box on a downrigger while fishing generates what is called, electrolysis or galvanic electrolite running down the cable. It generates about eight volts in saltwater. To understand how it all works, look up “Scotty black box” on Google.

Trout and salmon are attracted to positive energy and repelled by negative, while an angler is fishing a downrigger, cannon ball or cable. A electrical field builds around a boat, passing through water. This is why a zinc anode is fastened to the leg of the outboard motor. This reduces electrical impulses. Another example of positive energy, attracting game fish is a copper/lead small pipe lure with hook, trolled near the bottom, attracting ling cod and halibut in the ocean. Apparently it’s very effective. Both elements repel each other but attract the fish.

Can sending electric current through water on a larger scale (electro-shocking) eradicate unwanted species?

Rotenone is used in small lakes to remove perch, dace and shiners. Now shocking has been used in Dragon Lake(Quesnel), with good success, and Paul Lake east of Kamloops to remove swarms of red sided dace.

In recent meetings between BC Parks, a White Lake resident group, the Salmon Arm Fish and Game Club and other concerned outdoor groups (from Chase and Kamloops) it was contemplated that shocking may work to remove large numbers of goldfish that have historically inhabited the lake. Most goldfish are found in shallower water, bays or shoals. A crew would monitor and record these locations. Then electro-shocking would begin.

Read more: White Lake part of invasive goldfish study

Read more: Investigating White Lake

Read more: Invasive species can be a matter of perspective

White Lake is one of the most popular angling lakes in the Shuswap. Goldfish are actually taking away aquatic food like damselflies and stoneflies and shrimp from the trout. There are a number of other concerns regarding this beautiful lake, like beaver issues on Cedar Creek, the stocking of 48,000 female sterile trout per year (too many fish!) and habitat issues. Hopefully, at a cost of $2,500 a day for the shocking crew, it’s a start in the right direction to have White Lake regain its rightful balance once again as a BC angling icon.


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