A night out electrofishing in Frenchman’s Bay, Pickering

Recently I had the pleasure of accompanying TRCA’s Environmental Monitoring staff as they conducted nighttime electrofishing surveys at Frenchman’s Bay in Pickering. It was an amazing experience to join the team that ventures out into the lake at night, two weeks every summer, to monitor fish along the waterfront shore for our fish and aquatic habitat monitoring program.

TRCA undertakes annual fish community and aquatic habitat monitoring across the waterfront to track the health of the aquatic system and measure changes over time. Electrofishing entails the repeated sampling of specific sites to determine the type and quantity of fish species that are present. A small sampling boat, the Night Heron II, discharges an electrical current of 250 volts into the water in order to temporarily stun fish in close proximity. The stunned fish float up to the surface where they are carefully removed from the water with nets. This process is repeated for several minutes after which the sampling boat returns to the larger TRCA vessel, the Aqualab, where staff record the species collected and take measurements. The fish are then released back into the water unharmed.


The species caught during the night’s sampling at Frenchman’s Bay were Alewife, American Eel, Brown Bullhead, Common Carp, Gizzard Shad, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike and Yellow Perch.

TRCA’s monitoring work is important because it allows for fish populations to be monitored over the long term, thereby measuring the health of the waterfront’s aquatic habitat. Monitoring also helps to identify areas where fish and aquatic habitat would benefit from ecological restoration, and demonstrates that past restoration efforts by the TRCA, municipalities and partner organizations have improved habitat quality and productivity. Improved habitat means a thriving fish community!

– Lionel Worrel, Project Coordinator, Waterfront Watershed Strategies Division


Experience electrofishing yourself by watching this video that follows TRCA staff on a night of electrofishing.

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Want to learn more about TRCA’s monitoring program? Read Baseline Beginnings: Surveying species and spaces for the Scarborough Waterfront Project