Achieving High Survival of Tournament-caught Black Bass: Past Efforts and Future Needs and Opportunities

Rapid growth of black bass (Micropterus spp.) tournaments in the 1960s and 1970s caused concern among fisheries managers and anglers about the impacts of tournament-caused mortality on bass populations. Tournament organizers voluntarily implemented live-release events in the early 1980s. As catch-and-release practices became more common, procedures to improve the survival of tournament-caught fish were developed and have evolved. The objectives of this paper are to review education and outreach efforts to improve survival of tournament-caught black bass, suggest research needs and opportunities to achieve greater survival, and show the relevance of high survival to contemporary black bass management. Since 1985, a succession of informational products describing those techniques have been developed and distributed to anglers. Although research has confirmed the effectiveness of the recommended procedures and documented that angler and tournament organizer behavior has changed and the survival of tournament-caught black bass has increased, the impacts of the outreach efforts on tournament practices have not been quantified. Continued efforts towards increasing angler awareness of proper handling techniques may benefit from better communication, endorsement by professional anglers, and the use of incentives by state agencies to encourage better fish care.

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