Press-Republican

Environment

February 16, 2014

Study evaluates fish stress during tourneys

PLATTSBURGH — Researchers at SUNY Plattsburgh have documented signs of stress on bass caught and released during fishing tournaments on Lake Champlain.

The 37-page study includes recommendations for future tournaments.

Dr. Tim Mihuc and Mark Malchoff of the Lake Champlain Research Institute, assisted by students George Maynard, Danielle Garneau and V. Alex Scola, recently released “Post Tournament Release Movements of Black Bass in Lake Champlain.”

THOUSANDS TAGGED

Their research, which became the foundation of Maynard’s master’s thesis, took place in the 2011 and 2012 tournament seasons after they were able to tag about 2,300 fish with contact information and almost 100 with radio antennas.

Malchoff said they had about a 10 percent response rate on the tagged fish.

DISPERSAL

The research was primarily aimed at dispersal rates, Malchoff said, particularly how long fish tend to remain near the tournament release point in Cumberland Bay.

The research showed the fish did leave Cumberland Bay, but most not until a few weeks had passed and some not for two or three months.

Malchoff said very few of the bass caught in the southern section of Lake Champlain made it back there, as bass prefer shallow water and there is no shallow-water path all the way to that end of the lake.

STRESS FACTORS

Another part of the study examined stress levels in the fish.

“We wanted to see if we could document external signs of stress and how to minimize that,” Malchoff said.

Their research showed fish caught and held through the weigh-in process do show signs of stress.

Factors include how long the bass were in a live well, the water temperature in the well and the change in temperature from where the bass were caught and the live well.

In addition, for largemouth bass, the longer the fish is, the more likely it will become wounded or exhausted.

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