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This is a story that ran in our local paper a couple of weeks ago. Sorry I didn't get around to posting it sooner.

Want to bug a bass fisherman? At the University of Illinois there has been a study about fish and vulnerability to being caught. It has been going on for over twenty years. It seems some individual fish are caught more often while others are never caught. It is a matter of genetics. How the trait develops has an explanation, but end recommendation might upset some bass fishermen. No bass fishing tournaments, even catch and release, during spawning season.
David Phillipp, an ecology and conservation researcher at the U of I, explained that the perception of anglers is catch and release has no negative impact on the population. During the spawning season, however, if bass are angled and held off their nest for more than just a few minutes, when they are returned to the lake, it's too late; other fish have found the nest and are quickly eating the babies.
Phillipp recommends that to preserve bass populations across North America, management agencies need to protect the nesting males during the spawning season. "There should be no harvesting bass during the reproductive, period. That makes sense for all wildlife populations. You don't remove the adults during reproduction."
"One of the big issues for concern is the explosion of tournaments. Lots of bass tournments are held in the springtime because there are lots of big fish available. In tournaments you put fish in livewells, and yes they are released, but they could be held up to eight hours first. They're brought back to the dock, miles away from their nests. So, basically, if a fish is caugh in a tournament and brought into the boat and put into a livewell, his nest is destroyed."
By the way, male bass take care of the nest after mama bass is done. :tbh:
 

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Hook and Look had a good episode showing this perfectly. He purposely caught a fish off the bed and held it out of the water for a few seconds. A school of small bluegill brutally attacked the nest and finished their meal in less than a minute. So catching spawning bass definately has an effect on population,
 

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Take a minute or two and read http://www.thebassholes.com/e107_plugins/smf/smf.php?topic=1797.0 The Value of Big Bass.
From my point of view; fishing primarily small SoCAl reservoirs protected spawning areas or seasons seem reasonable. Ouachita's perspective from a larger reservoir system management view point, bass can easily sustain their population with sport fishing pressure, without closed seasons or areas. I have come to see Jim's point of view and agree, with the exception of isolated closed areas on smaller lakes that recieve high fishing pressure.
Tom
 

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Pond Jumper has some valid points in his post as well as Buzzbait88 thats why I don't mess with them when they are on the beds.I feel catching them and putting them in the live well does cause a loss of fish in the future and have never understood why they allow that in tourneys.JMHO folks
 

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The real question here is : Do bass spawn on more than one bed? which is especially important for the females. No one has much / if any info on this that i have seen. Some think bass and all other creatures in nature are monogamous which is clearly not the case. Another important question is: when a fish is removed from a nest , when released will it spawn again with another fish in the area? and if so how soon? Also, does handling the fish have a negative impact on the mortality rate of the eggs? ( i wouldnt think so , we do this in hatchery's). Will the male or other fish left on the bed spawn with another fish in the area? and Will the same bed be used by other fish as well? there is a lot more to the equation, and honestly I feel a large ammount of biologists have absolutly no common sense about natural animal behaviour and or preditor / prey relationships (they need to become a hunter instead of drawing the conclusions of an observer).

Having said that , I do not make it a practice to bed fish , but will catch and release a bedding fish if it's sizeable or in a tournament (i do not ever keep bass unless foul hooked or dead) . As with all things of nature in general , as soon as humans become involved , it's never good, and we are usually blind to the reprocussions later in the chain of life. just my .02
 

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"The real question here is : Do bass spawn on more than one bed? which is especially important for the females. No one has much / if any info on this that i have seen. Some think bass and all other creatures in nature are monogamous which is clearly not the case."

I'll try to give as good an answer for those questions as I can, but not having time to spend the hours it would take to support them with scientific data. I suggest doing a day's worth of Google searching to bring up a few hundred thousands of articles, a few of which should appear trustworthy, and are likely to answer similarly. I read a lot, subscribe to wildlife mgt periodicals where research papers are presented, and can confidently declare a huge volume of knowledge about largemouths has been added in the pas decade, so it's just a matter of time getting the facts out. You will eventually find a wealth of posts in this site covering all your questions, some of which carries the documentation I speak of.

In short, females are likely to deposit eggs on several separate nests in one season, mating with a different buck each time.

"Another important question is: when a fish is removed from a nest , when released will it spawn again with another fish in the area? and if so how soon?"

I depends of several factors such as how far away the spawning bass is removed compared to size of water body. If in a small lake the bass ought to make their way back OK. However, most tournaments held here, in the hundreds per year, release bass at the weigh-in site, while some big profile events redistribute them across one end of a large lake. Since the redistribution barges began there has been no significant changes in bass recruitment, even though it isn't believed the released females make it back into their old routine. In the big picture it probably doesn't matter whether or where they are released, such a tiny percentage of spawning bass being caught and removed from "home". Many tournament fish are caught days and weeks at the weigh-in sites, indicating they don't necessarily go straight home. If they return to their preferred spawning area then, another "if", if they have not deposited all their eggs, will spawn again on the first nest or another.

"Also, does handling the fish have a negative impact on the mortality rate of the eggs? ( i wouldnt think so , we do this in hatchery's)."

There are short term and long term issues around improper handling. Excessive removal of slime doubtless causes extreme stress over the following days, and disease/parasites can invade the virtual "open wounds" (loss of slime)

"Will the male or other fish left on the bed spawn with another fish in the area?"

It is known one male bass is capable of building more than one spawn nest per season. Typically, a male gets the nest ready then swims out to where deeper females wait, links up with usually one of the most dominant females, then leads her back to the nest. Once the fry scatter the male can repeat the process after a short rest. By the time he does that a few times, even once, exhaustion and death becomes more likely.

"and Will the same bed be used by other fish as well?"

Quite often by the time the earliest bass hatch occurs, other species like crappie move in to use the bass nests, eating whatever bass fry they can find. Once the crappie or other species finish spawning other bass can move in and make another run at spawning, as well as get some revenge by eating crappie fry, if the water temperature stays OK. Largemouth females can release one third of their eggs at a time, spread over a few months, one of nature's ways of species preservation. Buck bass spend quite a bit of effort locating suitable available spawning beds, so tend to use the same beds through a season, though once a particular buck leaves a nest (fry departing), another buck is likely to claim it.

"there is a lot more to the equation, and honestly I feel a large ammount of biologists have absolutly no common sense about natural animal behaviour and or preditor / prey relationships (they need to become a hunter instead of drawing the conclusions of an observer)."

As one myself let me defend by saying literally all my personal peers were and remain hunters and/or anglers, the sport driving them to become professional wildlife managers.Before specializing in something like fisheries mgt a student is required to master basic science course that equip us to take on more detailed studies and practices later.

Jim
 

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Thanks Jim, I knew the answers from personal experience ,but thought it would be good conversation material.

on the biologist side most wildlife mgt personel are very aware of whats going on, but i do find that the majoriety of the people who "write the books" on things in general get so caught up in drawing conclusions from observations that they really get lost in what they are doing.

Case in point , giant squid. Where oh where can we find one???? All living things need to eat and mate, and 99% of the time there is something that is higher in the food chain. It took decades for someone to say , "hey there's a lot of dead mature adults here, and we find them seasonally, wonder what their doing??" or "we see whales all the time with sucker scars, maybe the whales are eating them?" lol realistically a lot of it's humorus.

Back to bass... I do agree any interuption in spawning is not good. But this also happens to a point naturally. As usual we interfere with natural way of things then have to back track and say "did we really make a difference?" . we all know the answers to questions like these but we need to justify them to ourselves for our own feel good benifit.
 

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Some years ago our deer club began breaking up over some members wanting to start harvesting does after the state began approving that, even going around to clubs and encouraging it. Too many deer, not enough browse through the winters. Wasting disease due to excess numbers of deer. On and on the reasons came, but still most hunters remained highly offended over the very idea of killing does. We went down from about 80 folks camping on our hunting lease each year to 15 regulars. We stepped out and bagged does along with bucks, the opponents of that long gone. The results? Plenty of deer now, healthier, larger ever since that began. The proof of a "wild" idea was in the results. The experts were right. The traditionalists were very wrong. Left in their hands deer management would have failed, fewer deer harvested each season, yet finding bones of many that died from various natural causes. The old timers just didn't want to be "guilty" of killing a doe, just like many fishermen simply refuse to change ideas.

The proof of man's interruption ability from fishing during a spawn lies in the same kind of outcome, either increase or decrease in desired results. If no change at all, the action is not a significant action. If reasons for poor catches are considered fairly, the big question is whether man has exceeded natural causes for decline in a fish population in a particular fishery. You must rule out factors like fishing stress forcing bass to feed nightly, evading anglers by day. Maybe the bass went deep far from shore? Maybe too many wasteful tournament practices or too many high pressure tournaments training bass to avoid our lures?

Seeing clouds of fry after a spawn, in a fishery where anglers remove spawners from nests, seems to me evidence of little if any affect on bass from man there. Even in closed fisheries where spawn fishing is prohibited, or maybe bass are protected, why don't we hear about those lakes so full of bass year to year it seems a person could walk on fish across the lake? The reason is there are hundreds of natural causes of depletion of recruited bass that dwarfs the potential from man, while most fishing problems become significant when there are way too many anglers per acre of water.

I agree there are managers that come to poor conclusions, like the guy on our state game & fish board that owns (or owned) a hatchery that produced striper fingerlings. He was successful in adding stripers to many once fantastic bass fisheries. The idea was to attract a new segment of anglers that normally wouldn't visit Arkansas, choosing places known for stripers. Stripers are taking a huge share of forage previously enjoyed by black bass, growing to over 50 pounds here, probably as big as they get anywhere else. The concept had nothing to do with potential affects on native species, relying on myths and presumptions instead. I was almost fired from federal employment for attending a public meeting about the proposal, asking tough questions that never got answered properly. Instead, I got turned in for "working outside my authorized jurisdiction without official sanction" even though the decisions would affect my home lake where i worked.

Jim
 

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Now if we could just do something about commercial fishing and by-catch, instead of hearing "it's the sport fishing guys killing the fishery!" please ... one net kills more fish than sport fisherman catch in a month, maybe more.


I do like the fact though that many fisherman have decided to become educated about our resource and ways to help assure it will be there for our kids, and their kids. Makes me think there just might be some hope.
 

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Catch and release along with closed seasons are simply management tools and should be used as such. I'm sure Oldschool and Quachita will concur that each situation has to be evaluated and the propper tool utilized.

Some fisheries can also be damaged by the application of catch and release only or closed seasons.

J.E.
 

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Any wildlife management tool can easily be the most damaging, the results not known until way too late. For instance, I attended a wildlife management seminar in Montana a few decades ago. A speaker there told us how his town decided they didn't want to see another starving deer another winter, so farmers began an association for the purpose of storing up bales of feed and then putting it out when snow got too deep for deer to browse. They did that for cattle, so why not help nature? They were told by biologists what species to plant in set-aside acreage plus all the other information for providing high protein food deer could digest. A few winters late it became evident a huge mistake was made. The deer that came to depend on those feedings migrated so densely to that area it was impossible to deal with the starvation, the problem far too large for humans to deal with. The starvation problem was greatly magnified, young deer having less experience finding food on their own. The situation made national news, whole herds of deer and other animals starving in and around town, on ranches, etc., dying off by the hundreds at a time That's an old lesson learned the hard way, but many folks today don't have a clue, would be willing to repeat the mistake out of a basically "good heart" attitude. It sounded good, but was a human-caused death blow. People do things like that all the time still, like feeding hummingbirds well past time for them to migrate safely south to Brazil or wherever they are supposed to over-winter.

Some things in nature that offend all of us greatly are not meant to be a human project. Whales beaching themselves is one problem that has happened for eons, and will continue, despite folks quitting their jobs to drive a few thousand miles to help deal with that. Take those commercial fishermen wiping out huge schools of certain fish. Even if we could prohibit American fishermen from doing it, there's the bigger, extremely sensitive issue of international harvesters along our coastal boundaries. If we take a strong position against them, then they make it tougher for our harvesters to fish off their coastal boundaries.

That situation is most likely to be "corrected" by reduction of desired fish numbers below their margins of profit. When the fish are not in high enough numbers they won't be bothered commercially. I don't believe for a minute there is any reason that spells disaster for the affected fish species. There will simply be fewer of them. They can build back up, maybe after fishing boats have been abandoned, new ones costing too much to justify commercial fishing. All markets self adjust sooner or later based on supply and demand, so the excesses we see now will have to vanish. If commercial fishermen can't meet the demand for certain fish, the demand for those particular fish dies off, and is very hard to resurrect even when the supply becomes abundant again.

Jim
 

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good points , i would love to see commercial fish / shellfish farming on a large scale (as is being done with inland shrimp possibly). Most of the offshore fishing grounds have about been pounded to death. Fortunatly they will rebound quickly if given a chance, but it would most likely have to be a global effort. I'm not sure why we dont raise and stock fry for the deeper cold water fishes. CA has a pretty good program for halibut and sea bass that has brought these fish to what appear to be sustainable levels.
In CT the stripers were almost totally fish out , now they have come back in such numbers they need to be fished more regularly again. This took longer but the end result was different, CA stocked the fish , CT banned the fishing and upped the size limit.

We need to do something about shark harvesting as well. watch for this, I would predict a sharp rise in the squid population (especially in the pacific, which they are just starting to see) , not the small squid , the larger ones up to about 6-8 feet . With fewer top preditors to keep the numbers down I'm willing to bet the squid population is about to explode, and the squid are just basically the next level preditor down the chain. Problem is they come in by the thousands and are much more predatory than the sharks. We'll see.
 
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