Evaluationoflargescalereleaseprograms With Special Reference To Bass Fishing Tournaments

A study was conducted to assess the effectiveness of an extensive release program conducted in conjunction with the B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society) Tournament held on Lake Kissimmee and adjoining lakes, Osceola County. Florida. Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) caught by tournament participants were to be released into Lake Kissimmee following weighing and counting by tournament officials. Fish in poor condition and mortalities incurred prior to release were included into an initial mortality estimate of 15.6% by number and 13.7% by weight. A sample offish to be released was taken and held for observation in anchored cages for 14 days to estimate delayed mortality resulting from hooking. handling, and related stresses. Control fish captured by non-angling methods were held simultaneously. Mortality incurred subsequent to release (delayed mortality) was estimated at 15.0% by number for a six day period. A total mortality estimate of 30% was projected to this particular tournament. A second study was initiated, under more controlled conditions, to evaluate bass survival over extended periods of time. Recommendations based on tournament observations and study findings were formalized to aid in future large scale release programs.

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