Angler Exploitation of Largemouth Bass Determined Using Variable Reward Tags in 2 Central Florida Lakes

Angler exploitation of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) on the Conway and Winter Park chains of lakes, was evaluated using reward tags. An estimated 57% and 56% of the largemouth bass in the Conway and Winter Park chains, respectively, were caught by anglers during a 1-year period from 1991 to 1992. Annual exploitation rates were adjusted for tagging mortality and tag loss by 13% and 50%, respectively, for small Hallprint dart tags and 18% and 7%, respectively, for large Hallprint dart tags. Angler non-reporting of tagged fish was assigned a value of 20% based on a previous study. Since anglers on both chains voluntarily released a high percentage (72%) of the tagged largemouth bass they caught, annual exploitation rates (u) were 17% on the Conway chain of lakes and 16% on the Winter Park chain of lakes. Total annual mortality estimates (A) for largemouth bass during the study were 52% for the Conway chain and 50% for the Winter Park chain. We infer from these data that angler exploitation was not the major factor contributing to mortality in these populations. Anglers surveyed by telephone were highly supportive of reduced bag limits and minimum length limits on these lakes, even though they were already releasing a high percentage of the fish that they caught.

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