The purpose of this study was to compare catch characteristics of two commonly used fish sampling gears. This comparison provides information on which to base decisions about deployment of sampling gear and interpretion of data from localized historical sampling. A comparison of fish catch was made between a 10.7-m bag seine and a mini fyke net (MFN) in Upper Mississippi River Pool 13. The MFNs were found to capture a higher number of individuals and to have a higher species diversity than the seine. Comparisons of family catches between the MFN and the seine revealed that the two gear types do not catch family groups in similar proportions (X2 = 117.6 with 5 df, P < or = 0.05). Because MFNs can be set in nearly all nonflowing shoreline habitats and the catch rates were higher in MFNs, it is recommended that MFNs be used exclusively in all backwater areas. Further study is needed to determine the variance of the seines and MFNs. Also, the effects of vegetation on the fish catch with MFNs needs further review.