Conservation Wildlife Management

Louisiana Poachers Caught Electrocuting Catfish with a Car Battery

The duo had a homemade electrofishing rig hidden under the seat of their boat. Both were fined and one faces jail time
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louisiana catfish illegal electrofishing

The anglers used a rig made from a 12-volt car battery to stun the catfish. Louisiana Department of Fish and Wildlife / robru / Adobe Stock

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries recently cited two Evangeline Parish residents for taking fish illegally and fishing without a license on the Red River. The incident occurred in neighboring Rapides Parish on June 9 and involved a homemade electrofishing rig.

Authorities caught Brandon Theriot, 37, and Regan Theriot, 32, using a device made from a 12-volt car battery, a mess of wires, and a dip tin. The duo was using the rig to stun and catch catfish, according to an LDFW press release. The agency refers to the duo as two men, but Facebook profiles for Brandon and Regan Theriot from Evangeline Parish indicate that Regan is actually a female and Brandon’s wife. (LDFW did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.)

LDFW sergeant James Bruce and agent Lane Causey were patrolling the Red River when they interacted with the anglers, who were fishing from a small boat. A routine check revealed that the pair had caught two catfish, a popular game fish on the Red River. The officers then found an electrical line that led back to a 12-volt car battery stashed under Brandon’s seat. 

Brandon Theriot admitted to wildlife agents that he was using the rig to shock catfish and pull them out of the water. LDFW agents took the setup away and cited Brandon for taking fish illegally, which carries a maximum penalty of 120 days in jail and $950 in fines. They cited Regan for fishing without a license, which carries a $50 fine. 

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This is certainly not the first time that a homemade electrofishing rig has been used in an illegal fishing scheme. Game wardens caught a man shocking catfish on Hugo Lake in southeastern Oklahoma last August. He had a device made of parts from an old-fashioned crank phone.

Electrofishing does have its place in fisheries management. Biologists routinely use the technique to count fish for research purposes and to collect eggs. The electrical currents temporarily stun the fish and they typically recover within minutes.