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MickD

Keeping fall smallmouths in the livewell

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Here is a must-read article from Outdoor Canada for those of us who really like fall Great Lakes smallmouth bass fishing.

 

http://www.outdoorcanada.ca/keeping-fall-smallmouth-in-your-livewell-all-day-you-may-be-killing-them/?fbclid=IwAR1AHPXgU0xTtL0TtcJXgJsezCX4xsC8roP6_Ub0vKgadFIpnLwT1lqxNfU

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Something to consider perhaps.

Mr. Pyzer offer's some interesting thoughts. 

And while I'd agree that moving fish a long way from wintering holes prior to being released may be unnecessarily stressful, I can not agree that this article (and his 'research') confirms it as a death sentence.  

 "Unfortunately, the problem occurs when we livewell the biggest bass that we catch in the fall, cull them out as we move around the lake, over the course of the day, and then photograph them at the end. Often letting them go miles away from where we caught them, far from those critical fall home locations.

What appears to happen, as OMNR biologist Barry Corbett demonstrated when he replicated Ridgway’s multi-year tracking study on Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario, is that when we move the bass, instead of binge feeding in the fall and restoring their energy levels, they use up their reserves as they desperately search for home.

Corbett speculates, in fact, that the fish expend such enormous amounts of energy searching for their familiar home ranges, that they go into the winter starvation period in much poorer physical condition and perished. What he discovered, in fact, was that between 35- and 50-percent of the bass that were moved, were dead the following spring"

 

  Were all these dead bass confirmed - or 'speculated" ?  How did he arrive at this number.? 

Whatever the deal is - the recent B.A.S.S. Elite  derby results regarding the size & numbers of smallmouth bass caught on the St Lawrence River this year - must have not been part of the research; because it was ridiculous & record setting. Seems that population is in pretty decent shape. 

 

A-Jay

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@A-Jay to clear on the topic, bass angling is prohibited from Dec. 1 until the 3rd Saturday in June.  See p. 24 Region 5 rules, and Region 6 Jefferson Co. p. 34.

 

http://www.eregulations.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/18NYFW_LR2.pdf

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8 minutes ago, J Francho said:

@A-Jay to clear on the topic, bass angling is prohibited from Dec. 1 until the 3rd Saturday in June.  See p. 24 Region 5 rules, and Region 6 Jefferson Co. p. 34.

 

http://www.eregulations.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/18NYFW_LR2.pdf

Perfect - not so in this jurisdiction however.

But there is a time frame of catch & IMMEDIATE release, so boat rides are prohibited.

(Wow - tons new emoji's) 

👌

A-Jay

 

 

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33 minutes ago, A-Jay said:

I can not agree that this article (and his 'research') confirms it as a death sentence.

Not his research, as you later state.  The rest of your response seems to agree with the article.   

 

The reason I posted this was only to point out a risky thing that we have all done, but which has a much higher risk in the fall of endangering the biggest of the fish we catch and want to release unharmed.

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1 minute ago, MickD said:

Not his research, as you later state.  The rest of your response seems to agree with the article.   

 

The reason I posted this was only to point out a risky thing that we have all done, but which has a much higher risk in the fall of endangering the biggest of the fish we catch and want to release unharmed.

Totally a fan of not jacking up a fishery in any way.

One reason I chose not to bed fish - ever.

(And that's a whole different can of worms right there)

And if I ever could 'find' one of these magic wintering holes, where there's thousands of giant smallies congregated on one spot, I'd have No Problem sore lipping a couple of hundred without ever retaining a single one for even a minute.

Never really have tough - especially if we keep having December in September . . . 

😫

A-Jay

 

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2 hours ago, MickD said:

Not his research, as you later state.  The rest of your response seems to agree with the article.   

 

The reason I posted this was only to point out a risky thing that we have all done, but which has a much higher risk in the fall of endangering the biggest of the fish we catch and want to release unharmed.

Not something we have “all” done. The only fish that go in my livewell also go in my belly. I always have a camera (phone) to take a picture where I caught the fish instead of back at the ramp. Now if I got a monster and my phone died, a fish might have to be relocated via livewell provided it was legal of course. Luckily my boat also has a cigarette lighter outlet to charge my phone haha

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4 hours ago, MickD said:

The reason I posted this was only to point out a risky thing that we have all done, but which has a much higher risk in the fall of endangering the biggest of the fish we catch and want to release unharmed.

I’ve never done it. In the 30 years I’ve owned a boat with a live well, I never put a fish in it with the intention of releasing it later. 

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OK , I  concede not all have done it.  Glad you read the article, anyway.

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While I agree in the practice, I would have my doubts as to how, if there were hundreds of smallmouth stacked up in a few areas, they would be able to binge feed stocking up reserves for the winter?  I doubt that there would be enough forage also stacked up in a small area to be able to sustain that many fish.  As a rule, I never well fish for pictures unless it is for a TX and during the time of year it is allowed.  Here in Virginia, we don't even do it in the summer with largemouths due to not wanting to stress them out.  When we fish St Clair for smallies, it is catch and immediate release season so there is no debate.  We do fish beds and that is up for debate.  Mainly due to the fact that during the time of year we fish there, more than likely you are catching them off the beds even if you can't see them on the beds but we will spend some time in the shallows actually sight fishing them.  Science backs up that in the big picture, it does not harm the spawn.  

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Corbett speculates, in fact, that the fish expend such enormous amounts of energy searching for their familiar home ranges, that they go into the winter starvation period in much poorer physical condition and perished. What he discovered, in fact, was that between 35- and 50-percent of the bass that were moved, were dead the following spring.

spec·u·late
/ˈspekyəˌlāt/
verb
 
  1. 1.
    form a theory or conjecture about a subject without firm evidence.
    "my colleagues speculate about my private life"
    synonyms: conjecture, theorize, hypothesize, guess, surmise; More
     
     
     

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On 11/14/2018 at 3:54 PM, MickD said:

Here is a must-read article from Outdoor Canada for those of us who really like fall Great Lakes smallmouth bass fishing.

 

http://www.outdoorcanada.ca/keeping-fall-smallmouth-in-your-livewell-all-day-you-may-be-killing-them/?fbclid=IwAR1AHPXgU0xTtL0TtcJXgJsezCX4xsC8roP6_Ub0vKgadFIpnLwT1lqxNfU

Thank you for posting this article @MickD. It makes sense that bass will die easier after being held in a live well for a while. A live well is a very small and stressful place for several bass to be crammed in especially after being hooked in the face and fighting for their life. Delayed mortality is a major problem with catch and release fishing (especially tournament fishing) and the more time the bass spends out of the lake the worse the chances of the bass surviving. 

On 11/14/2018 at 7:52 PM, TnRiver46 said:

Not something we have “all” done. The only fish that go in my livewell also go in my belly. I always have a camera (phone) to take a picture where I caught the fish instead of back at the ramp.

I agree with you that the fish that go in a livewell are fish to eat. I will also consider putting a fish in a livewell if it might a break a state or world record since biologist need to examine the fish for official documentation. A smart phone is more than good enough to film a bass being weighed, measured, and for getting screenshots for pictures. I do not need glory pictures of a bunch of bass crammed in a livewell or messing up the jaws of the bass by holding too many bass at once.

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17 minutes ago, soflabasser said:

Thank you for posting this article @MickD. It makes sense that bass will die easier after being held in a live well for a while. A live well is a very small and stressful place for several bass to be crammed in especially after being hooked in the face and fighting for their life. Delayed mortality is a major problem with catch and release fishing (especially tournament fishing) and the more time the bass spends out of the lake the worse the chances of the bass surviving. 

I agree with you that the fish that go in a live well are fish to eat. I will also consider putting a fish in a livewell if it might a break a state or world record since biologist need to examine the fish for official documentation. A smart phone is more than good enough to film a bass being weighed, measured, and for getting screenshots for pictures. I do not need glory pictures of a bunch of bass in a live well or messing up the jaws of the bass by holding to many at once l to let me know I did good on a particular fishing trip.

While I respect your opinion, the article had nothing to do with the stress a fish may or may not go thru by being held in a livewell. It was about transporting fish away from their stomping grounds which caused them to expel too much energy trying to make their way home, which is speculated to result in 35-50% mortality. 

 

I believe that if a fisherman is within his legal rights to take 5 fish for a boat ride, then he has every right to do so.

I believe that fish aren't as stupid as people think they are. 

I believe that people who equate non human life to human life have a screw loose.

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10 hours ago, slonezp said:

What he discovered, in fact, was that between 35- and 50-percent of the bass that were moved, were dead the following spring.

Sounds a little stronger than speculation.  

 

I have to admit, it is tempting to put a couple other definitions up here.  But I'll just check out on this one.

 

 

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30 minutes ago, MickD said:

Sounds a little stronger than speculation.  

 

I have to admit, it is tempting to put a couple other definitions up here.  But I'll just check out on this one.

 

 

Without dissecting every fish to determine the cause of death, it is speculation. Let's speculate that all the fish hanging out together were from the same year class. It's just as easy to speculate they all died of old age. They died from some type of bacteria which was passed around the school, or something else that shocked the body of water 

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Do they have a baseline for natural fish mortality over the winter period? Seems like it would be an incredibly difficult thing to prove to any satisfaction that fish moved a few miles would die because they expended so much energy getting back to where they were caught. Might be true, but very hard to prove I would have thought.

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Also the fishery can sustain all the keepers in the livewell  being eaten, that’s why the limits are set

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1 hour ago, TnRiver46 said:

Also the fishery can sustain all the keepers in the livewell  being eaten, that’s why the limits are set

Point well taken. All & any released livewell fish have a better chance of survival than the legal limit kept for cleaning/eating. 

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18 hours ago, slonezp said:
spec·u·late
/ˈspekyəˌlāt/
verb
 
  1. 1.
    form a theory or conjecture about a subject without firm evidence.
    "my colleagues speculate about my private life"
    synonyms: conjecture, theorize, hypothesize, guess, surmise; More
     

 

Media over-stating study conclusions is the status quo, but beyond a couple of generously worded phrases IMO this magazine article doesn't go too far. Given the intentional use of the word “speculates,” I'd say the researcher is being clear that the proposed connection between winter mortality and relocation in the fall is an observation that's not definitively proven, what more do you want?

 

That the connection is speculative doesn’t mean that it's unreasonable or that it was conceived in ignorance of other possibilities (give Corbett some credit). There are good questions raised above, and I would guess some are addressed (though not necessarily resolved) in the original studies. Has anyone found the actual LOTW tracking study?

 

Skepticism aside, this could potentially be filed in the same category as fishing for deep bass, fizzing, fin clips, livewell care, time spent handling fish out of the water, damage to slime coats, jacking jaws, mountain dew etc. C&R only works if the fish survives. I agree with @mick, it doesn’t sound like the 35-50% mortality figures referenced in the article are pulled out of the air (though we don’t know much about the study conditions and should be skeptical); it’s the causal relationship to relocation that's speculated. If nothing else, those numbers seem surprisingly high IMO, worthy of discussion/investigation whatever the cause.

 

6 hours ago, TnRiver46 said:

Also the fishery can sustain all the keepers in the livewell  being eaten, that’s why the limits are set

I wouldn’t say this is broadly true, depending on what you mean by “sustain.” There’s little doubt that the quality of some fisheries has been or can be helped by successful C&R of adult fish which could legally be harvested, and this practice is often promoted by the same agencies that set the harvest limits.

 

Bass held in a livewell for photos or in tournament scenarios are likely to be larger specimens, and over the course of a day it’s likely that more than a limits-worth of fish could be held and relocated. Selectively harvesting or indirectly killing these larger fish through delayed mortality may not wipe out the bass population (and may not break any laws), but it’s no way to support a quality fishery.

 

In reference to the OP article, the concern is that trophy northern smallmouth are unusually susceptible to angling in the fall due to aggregation (true in my experience), and are potentially also unusually vulnerable to angling-related stress causing delayed mortality (speculative, difficult to prove definitively). Anglers that want to keep these fish for the table are free to do so within their rights and the study is irrelevant to them. But the for the well-intentioned folks planning to release those bass, doing what they can to improve survival odds makes sense.  

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1 hour ago, fissure_man said:

 

Media over-stating study conclusions is the status quo, but beyond a couple of generously worded phrases IMO this magazine article doesn't go too far. Given the intentional use of the word “speculates,” I'd say the researcher is being clear that the proposed connection between winter mortality and relocation in the fall is an observation that's not definitively proven, what more do you want?

 

That the connection is speculative doesn’t mean that it's unreasonable or that it was conceived in ignorance of other possibilities (give Corbett some credit). There are good questions raised above, and I would guess some are addressed (though not necessarily resolved) in the original studies. Has anyone found the actual LOTW tracking study?

 

Skepticism aside, this could potentially be filed in the same category as fishing for deep bass, fizzing, fin clips, livewell care, time spent handling fish out of the water, damage to slime coats, jacking jaws, mountain dew etc. C&R only works if the fish survives. I agree with @mick, it doesn’t sound like the 35-50% mortality figures referenced in the article are pulled out of the air (though we don’t know much about the study conditions and should be skeptical); it’s the causal relationship to relocation that's speculated. If nothing else, those numbers seem surprisingly high IMO, worthy of discussion/investigation whatever the cause.

 

I wouldn’t say this is broadly true, depending on what you mean by “sustain.” There’s little doubt that the quality of some fisheries has been or can be helped by successful C&R of adult fish which could legally be harvested, and this practice is often promoted by the same agencies that set the harvest limits.

 

Bass held in a livewell for photos or in tournament scenarios are likely to be larger specimens, and over the course of a day it’s likely that more than a limits-worth of fish could be held and relocated. Selectively harvesting or indirectly killing these larger fish through delayed mortality may not wipe out the bass population (and may not break any laws), but it’s no way to support a quality fishery.

 

In reference to the OP article, the concern is that trophy northern smallmouth are unusually susceptible to angling in the fall due to aggregation (true in my experience), and are potentially also unusually vulnerable to angling-related stress causing delayed mortality (speculative, difficult to prove definitively). Anglers that want to keep these fish for the table are free to do so within their rights and the study is irrelevant to them. But the for the well-intentioned folks planning to release those bass, doing what they can to improve survival odds makes sense.  

Where I live it is illegal to have more than a limit in a livewell. I would assume that is true everywhere

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31 minutes ago, TnRiver46 said:

Where I live it is illegal to have more than a limit in a livewell. I would assume that is true everywhere

I would be surprised if it were different anywhere.  I think live wells count as "possession,"  but I have to admit, I'm speculating.  🙂

 

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58 minutes ago, TnRiver46 said:

Where I live it is illegal to have more than a limit in a livewell. I would assume that is true everywhere

“…over the course of a day it’s likely that more than a limits-worth of fish could be held and relocated.”

 

Example:

 

Bass tournament. Legal possession limit: 6 bass. Joe Angler blasts off and fishes a milk run of spots, catches an early tournament limit of 5 fish and culls 4 times before heading to the weigh in at the end of the day.  9 fish were held in the livewell and potentially relocated, but no more than 1 limit was possessed at any time.

 

No harm done here as long as the bass survive the ordeal, but that brings us back to the original article.

 

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35 minutes ago, fissure_man said:

“…over the course of a day it’s likely that more than a limits-worth of fish could be held and relocated.”

 

Example:

 

Bass tournament. Legal possession limit: 6 bass. Joe Angler blasts off and fishes a milk run of spots, catches an early tournament limit of 5 fish and culls 4 times before heading to the weigh in at the end of the day.  9 fish were held in the livewell and potentially relocated, but no more than 1 limit was possessed at any time.

 

No harm done here as long as the bass survive the ordeal, but that brings us back to the original article.

 

Oh ok so culling. Gotcha. I never have that problem since I never catch a limit to begin with ........

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On 11/16/2018 at 2:52 PM, TnRiver46 said:

Where I live it is illegal to have more than a limit in a livewell. I would assume that is true everywhere

In NY, your legal limit is 5 to keep, but you can have 6 in the boat if you are culling.  It would not be unusual to have 20 or more fish in and out of the well on a decent fall day.  All of those fish are certainly relocated. 

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Keep in mind the article refers to what the author considers a problem specific to the fall season.  He is not referring to other seasons.

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