Use of an Angler Incentive Program for Data Collection and Management of a Trophy Bass Fishery

One hundred and seventy-six trophy-size (?3.6 kg) largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), entered into a privately-sponsored catch-and-release program at Caddo Lake, Texas/Louisiana, were tagged and monitored to assess angler recapture rates, genetic composition, and their distribution within the lake. All largemouth bass program entries were scanned for tags to determine angler recapture rates over a 4-year period. Blood samples were obtained from initial entries and used to determine genetic composition using random amplified polymorphic DNA testing. Genetic data were used to evaluate the success of past stocking activities. Angler-reported catch locations were used to examine temporal and spatial distribution of initial and recaptured largemouth bass entries. Most (77.2%) of the largemouth bass entries were caught during March (46.9%) and April (30.3%). Twenty-three (13.1%) of the 176 largemouth bass were recaptured at least once and 4 (2.3%) were recaptured twice. The distance between initial and recapture locations ranged from 0.0 to 7.5 km (µ = 2.8 km) and corresponding time intervals between catches for individual fish ranged from 8 to 1,059 days(µ = 281 days) for all tagged fish returns (N = 27). Estimated genotypic composition of the entries was 15.5% Florida largemouth bass (M. s. floridanus), 45.1% F1 first generation hybrids, and 39.4% Fx non-first generation hybrids, indicating successful Florida gene introgression following stocking activities that occurred 15 years earlier. Most (85%) of the initial and recaptured largemouth bass entries were caught in the middle portion of Caddo Lake, suggesting habitat associations possibly related to the avoidance of oxygen deficient areas in the lake and/or homing tendencies. Our results indicate this angler incentive program was highly utilized and trophy largemouth bass were recycled. Compared to electrofishing, the program provided a more efficient means for gathering genetic and catch distribution information on trophy-size largemouth bass.

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5182