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Goose52

Can a Bass Live Long With a Swallowed Soft Plastic? Observations of Bass Tagging

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I'm in the second season of working a bass tagging program in several of my local lakes and had an interesting observation on a recaptured bass today.

I caught and tagged LMB #120 on 9-11-2015 and at that time it was 369mm (14.5") long and weighed 1.41 lb. I recaptured that bass 12 days later, on 9-23-2015, and it was essentially the same length and weight. In neither capture did I observe anything protruding from the throat of the bass (I would have pulled it out if I had). Today, I recaptured #120 again. It was 376mm (14.8") long and weighed 1.60 lb. The fish was a scrappy fighter, healthy looking, and was nice and plump for it's length. HOWEVER, this time, when I brought the bass into the boat, it spit up a plastic worm. Hmmmm, I look at the worm and identify it as most likely a Culprit ribbontail, in red shad color.  I get home, check the spreadsheet, and I initially caught LMB #120 on a.....wait for it.....10" Culprit ribbontail in the only color I use for that bait - red shad.

I don't know what is typical for most cases, but here's at least one case of a fish having a soft plastic in it's body for more than 9 months with no indication of ill effects. The data on this fish does indicate a slow growth rate over these 9 months, but my recapture data is showing that this slow growth rate is typical of many of my recaptured bass  Otherwise, the fish was healthy in all other respects.

This tagging program is providing some pretty nifty observations and growth data in only the first 18 months of the program. It will be interesting to see how things look in the years down the road...

100_0041.JPG

 

EDIT:

I just spent some time in the garage trying to fold that worm remnant into a ball and visualizing how it could stay in a 14" bass while still allowing normal digestion. I guess I can't picture it working either. SO, I will VOID my original conclusion and go with the preponderance of opinion of the board members. As close as I can come to a theory now is that due the deteriorated condition of the worm fragment, it was probably adrift in the lake for quite a while...perhaps even since last year, and this bass just swallowed it at some point in the relatively recent past. The fact that the worm is the same type/color as what caught the fish 9 months ago is just happenstance.  Ah, it was a good story for a while...:lol:

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Very interesting....not much gain at all, but still healthy.  From what I've read about problems with plastics clogging bass digestive systems, it is usually several plastics that cause a real problem.  Still a little concerning that one would last that long inside a bass though.  

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A friend caught this bass about a week after we had been fishing the same area with Roboworms in the Orange Crusher color.  Apparently it went through his digestion system fairly well...

Pooping Roboworm 2.jpg

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Someone should invent a plastic that only degrades inside a fish's stomach. Instant millionaire if you figure out how to do so. 

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They make surgical screws out of plastic that disintegrates inside of the human body, so that's not out of the realm of possibility.

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how often do you guys have bass completely swallow that large a portion of your small plastic? 

i've had small sections of limbs/tails of plastics be bitten off while reeling bass in (no idea of it went into their stomachs or not), but never anything as large as that ribbontail. 

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It seems strange that after 9 months it then decided to cough up the worm. I know it would be a big coincidence but Maybe someone else lost the worm to the same bass. Red shad is a popular color as well as culprit worms.

Surely I'm not the only one whose mind this crossed.

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This is far from proof that it was your worm that stayed in that bass all that time. There are 9 months of variables involved here and just because the bass spit up one of the most popular worm styles and colors is by no means an indication that it was your worm that it coughed up. I highly doubt that a worm of that size in that size of bass would allow for food to be digested and just sit still without trying to pass through the digestive system. 

Could i be wrong, sure but no way to tell without more identifying information on the worm in question.

All that being said, the tagging program seems pretty cool...

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That bass may have picked up a worm that was tossed off your hook by another bass in just the last few hours or days.

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8 hours ago, fishblitzer said:

Someone should invent a plastic that only degrades inside a fish's stomach. Instant millionaire if you figure out how to do so. 

Gulp does, not sure if there's any others but that stuff has never really caught on with bass guys.

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Sure - no way to tell for SURE that it was the same worm...but I still think it's likely. Judging from the amount of algae on the ID tag, it's likely that no one has caught that bass since my 9-23-2015 capture (people tend to get curious about the tags and scrape algae off to see what it says). On the 9-23 recapture, I caught it with a crankbait so no worm introduction then. The lake doesn't see that much fishing pressure and of those that do fish there - they are mostly "beat the bank with a stickbait" type angers. I caught this fish 3 times - all at depths below 12 feet or so. Lastly - whether it was one of my own worms that had been tossed in the last few hours or days and swallowed by this fish. Nope - the worm was too deteriorated for that...AND, I haven't fished a Culprit worm in that lake since last year. The bass was caught yesterday on a BPS 10" Squirmin' Worm - the only worm I have fished in that lake this year...

Regardless. like flyfisher said, the tagging program is interesting and you don't have to guess whether you recaught a fish, you know for sure you did. I have several fish that I have now caught 5 times, and many others with 4, 3. and 2 captures. The data is depressing however, confirming what we have always suspected, very slow growth rates of the bass in these lakes - with some fish showing essentially no growth over a one year period. The next few years will be eye-opening I'm sure...

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Interesting find and thanks for sharing it. With respect to the tagging program you are working on, could you give more info on it? Is it just for monitoring growth rates for bass on several bodies of water or are there other less obvious reasons?

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I think if they can live or not really depends on the type and size of the plastic. Some plastic swells while in the water. I've pulled up some jigs that people have broken off with craw trailers that had swollen bigger than my hand. I know I've got a picture somewhere, but not here at work. It's crazy how big they get though and if a bass were to swallow one before it swells I can't imagine them doing to well. 

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2 hours ago, kickerfish1 said:

Interesting find and thanks for sharing it. With respect to the tagging program you are working on, could you give more info on it? Is it just for monitoring growth rates for bass on several bodies of water or are there other less obvious reasons?

Primarily for monitoring LMB growth rates as part of an ongoing study assessing the quality/fertility of our local lakes. We have 11 main lakes in our community, totaling about 530 acres. I have been measuring and weighing thousands of bass for the last 7 years. My data is provided to our Lakes Consultant, who also receives data from our local bass club. He uses those thousands of data points as part of his assessment of the health/quality of the fishery. He also uses seining techniques to assess annual recruitment, measures water chemistry, and uses other factors as part of his overall review. The lakes are generally of low fertility, with less than optimum reproduction of forage fish, and are low-yield regarding catch rates. Our bass are generally thin - averaging about 75-85% of national average weights. Some of the low fertility relates to the geology of the lakes - I guess they would be classified as highland reservoirs, with a rock substrate, and in many places a rock or muck bottom. There is little emergent vegetation, but some of the lakes do have significant sub-surface vegetation at certain times of the year.

Corrective measures have included lake fertilization which was effective but opposed by the majority of residents due to the extreme staining of the water. Hundreds of fish structures (concrete & pvc pipe "porcupines") have been constructed and placed at strategic places in the lakes and those are effective in providing an area for algae growth (on the pvc) - attracting both forage fish and bass (I caught 3 bass off a field of those structures just this morning). Tilapia have been stocked due to their rapid growth and reproductive rates in an effort to provide additional forage.

So, knowing that the lakes are low fertility/low yield, the next step was to assess actual growth rates of known fish. A pilot program was started in one lake and that gave some good data so I was drafted to tag bass in 3 other lakes (totaling 65 acres). I'm in the second season now and have tagged about 630 bass so far and have many recaptures. As mentioned earlier, the data is showing poor growth rates, with little to no growth in some fish over the course of a year. In some cases, we have negative weight changes after a year. It's looking like we could have 10" bass that might be 3 or 4 years old!  If the data trend of slow growth continues next year, I am going to recommend to the Lakes Consultant that we take some scale samples to determine the actual age of some of these fish.

At the end of the day, there is a limit to what can be done to improve the fishery. There is only so much budget for forage fish stocking and habitat improvement, most residents are not anglers and like the lakes to look like swimming pools (clear water and no cover), and in general we are fighting mother nature in the geology of the lakes.

So, that's the story!  

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well regardless of how it happened there is one piece of info that stands out to me from your research. It proves that bass don't remember what worm or lure was fake and will bite again even after being caught with a certain lure. That's important to me.

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2 minutes ago, riverbasser said:

well regardless of how it happened there is one piece of info that stands out to me from your research. It proves that bass don't remember what worm or lure was fake and will bite again even after being caught with a certain lure. That's important to me.

I read a study that reported that while bass often become conditioned to hard baits, with bite rates declining after repetitive exposure, they are much less likely to be conditioned to soft baits.  

I would have to check my data, but off-hand I would say that many of my recaptures were with the same bait, and in a few cases were caught on consecutive days.

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6 minutes ago, Goose52 said:

I read a study that reported that while bass often become conditioned to hard baits, with bite rates declining after repetitive exposure, they are much less likely to be conditioned to soft baits.  

I would have to check my data, but off-hand I would say that many of my recaptures were with the same bait, and in a few cases were caught on consecutive days.

You ever caught one twice in a day?

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8 minutes ago, Derekbass02 said:

You ever caught one twice in a day?

i have , on the same bait (watermelon red flake 5'' yum dinger) 3 casts previous , i hooked up on a bass but got broke off . made another cast using the same bait , i hook up with another bass , reel it in and go to unhook it and look in the bass's mouth and there is my broke off bait and hook in the back of it's mouth . heres a pic , look close and you'll see the other yum dinger !!!

IMAG0472.jpg

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2 minutes ago, Derekbass02 said:

You ever caught one twice in a day?

I haven't.  I do occasionally revisit spots to see if they have "re-loaded" but I've never re-caught a tagged fish on the same trip. 

For untagged bass, I think I've possibly re-caught the same fish within an hour (based on photograph comparison). But generally, I think that most fish aren't gong to "re-bite" until a considerable amount of time has passed, perhaps until the next day... 

23 minutes ago, riverbasser said:

...... It proves that bass don't remember what worm or lure was fake and will bite again even after being caught with a certain lure.... That's important to me.

I selected two bass and looked up the baits:

Bass #004 - caught 5 times - baits used: Speed Craw, Fat Albert grub, Super Speed Craw, Speed Craw, Gander Mountain grub

Bass # 010 - caught 4 times - baits used: Speed Craw, Speed Craw, Speed Craw, Super Speed Craw

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Big Bait Fishing said:

i have , on the same bait (watermelon red flake 5'' yum dinger) 3 casts previous , i hooked up on a bass but got broke off . made another cast using the same bait , i hook up with another bass , reel it in and go to unhook it and look in the bass's mouth and there is my broke off bait and hook in the back of it's mouth . heres a pic , look close and you'll see the other yum dinger !!!

IMAG0472.jpg

A hungry fish for sure...:lol:

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I've missed a bass on a Trick Worm that took my worm then the next time around the lake caught the same bass on another bait that spit my worm up. But that was same day. I don't really see how a bass could eat for months and still be able to spit that bait up. 

1 hour ago, riverbasser said:

well regardless of how it happened there is one piece of info that stands out to me from your research. It proves that bass don't remember what worm or lure was fake and will bite again even after being caught with a certain lure. That's important to me.

When they get hungry enough, they get really dumb.

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My brother and I both caught the same fish twice in the same day. we could tell it was the same fish because it had a spot on its tail that we could see in both pictures of it. I caught it on a football jig and he caught it on a finesse worm. He had also hooked it between when I caught it and when he caught it. He hooked it on the same finesse worm.

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5 hours ago, Goose52 said:

Primarily for monitoring LMB growth rates as part of an ongoing study assessing the quality/fertility of our local lakes. We have 11 main lakes in our community, totaling about 530 acres. I have been measuring and weighing thousands of bass for the last 7 years. My data is provided to our Lakes Consultant, who also receives data from our local bass club. He uses those thousands of data points as part of his assessment of the health/quality of the fishery. He also uses seining techniques to assess annual recruitment, measures water chemistry, and uses other factors as part of his overall review. The lakes are generally of low fertility, with less than optimum reproduction of forage fish, and are low-yield regarding catch rates. Our bass are generally thin - averaging about 75-85% of national average weights. Some of the low fertility relates to the geology of the lakes - I guess they would be classified as highland reservoirs, with a rock substrate, and in many places a rock or muck bottom. There is little emergent vegetation, but some of the lakes do have significant sub-surface vegetation at certain times of the year.

Corrective measures have included lake fertilization which was effective but opposed by the majority of residents due to the extreme staining of the water. Hundreds of fish structures (concrete & pvc pipe "porcupines") have been constructed and placed at strategic places in the lakes and those are effective in providing an area for algae growth (on the pvc) - attracting both forage fish and bass (I caught 3 bass off a field of those structures just this morning). Tilapia have been stocked due to their rapid growth and reproductive rates in an effort to provide additional forage.

So, knowing that the lakes are low fertility/low yield, the next step was to assess actual growth rates of known fish. A pilot program was started in one lake and that gave some good data so I was drafted to tag bass in 3 other lakes (totaling 65 acres). I'm in the second season now and have tagged about 630 bass so far and have many recaptures. As mentioned earlier, the data is showing poor growth rates, with little to no growth in some fish over the course of a year. In some cases, we have negative weight changes after a year. It's looking like we could have 10" bass that might be 3 or 4 years old!  If the data trend of slow growth continues next year, I am going to recommend to the Lakes Consultant that we take some scale samples to determine the actual age of some of these fish.

At the end of the day, there is a limit to what can be done to improve the fishery. There is only so much budget for forage fish stocking and habitat improvement, most residents are not anglers and like the lakes to look like swimming pools (clear water and no cover), and in general we are fighting mother nature in the geology of the lakes.

So, that's the story!  

Grammar/Splelling - A

Spacing of Ideas/thoughts - A

Staying on Topic - A

Development of thesis - A

Organization/cohesiveness - A

On a serious note that was quite interesting. Our lakes around here are sort of the opposite.  Lots of emergent and submergent vegetation and generally not the greatest of fishing mostly due to lots of angling pressure. If you ever get bored collecting data there, we could probably use you here. :lol:

 

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I have a Bill Dance "Dancin' Lessons"  tape from 1986 that I still watch and in that tape he said studies have shown that LMB develop no memory from being caught on a plastic worm.  He called it the non memory bait.  For other hard baits the bass will go two weeks before striking the same bait again.  I do not know what studies he is talking about but if Bill Dance said it, it is good enough for me.

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