The Art of Seining

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Published on: Jan. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 10, 2010

pulled from the water in the net.

Seining with the current is far more efficient because there is less drag on the net. You can also move more quickly to trap fish, and there is no pressure wave in front of the seine, which can cause fish to move away from the net.

Fish may try to avoid a seine by going under, around or over it. You can make your net more efficient by adding extra floats to the float line, especially when you will be using the net in deep and swift water. You can add a chain to the net to make it hug the bottom and churn up objects (like stones, sticks, etc.) to dislodge fish that live in crevices.

When pulling the seine to shore, be sure to keep the lead line on the bottom. You may have to get down on your knees and slowly work the lead line into the bank and then lift quickly into snags or undercut banks. If you see fish in the net and there's no good takeout point along the shore, try quickly lifting the seine in mid-water. Through practice and repetition you'll learn how best to capture fish and avoid snagging the net.

Many fish desirable for an aquarium live in riffles. Riffles are shallow areas in streams where the water flows swiftly over exposed gravel and cobble on the bottom. A drag seine may not be appropriate for riffles. However, you can set the seine below a riffle and dislodge fish by "kicking" the cobble and rock. This is called "kick seining." The technique usually requires three people-two to hold the net on each end and one to furiously kick the riffle. Kick seining is an especially good technique to capture darters and madtoms.

You can use the seine alone, but it is difficult and not as efficient. Instead, I prefer to use a sturdy dip net to capture fish in riffles, or in small pools with snags and undercut banks. I use the dip net as a one-person kick seine. I face downstream holding the dip net in the water below me with two hands. I then back upstream, disturbing the bottom with my feet. The net captures fish that rush downstream, panicked by the disturbance I make.

Many of Missouri's small fishes-especially darters, minnows and madtoms-make excellent aquarium specimens. The young of large species

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