Evaluation of Methods to Minimize Weight Change of Potential Record Fish During the Certification Process

Catching a state record fish is a significant accomplishment in the life of any angler. The need to have a state agency biologist present to verify the record fish can delay the certification of the fish, possibly leading to changes in the fish’s weight. Few published studies have directly investigated the impact of preservation method on weight change of fish following capture. We examined four fish species: black crappie (Pomoxis nigromacula- tus), bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris), and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) to identify the best preservation method for minimizing change in weight post-catch. We evaluated four preservation methods including holding fish alive, on ice, in an ice bath, and in a freezer for either 24 or 48 h. Preservation method and time post-catch significantly affected the weight of fish, but effects varied with species. In general, weights of fish preserved in an ice bath increased 5–10% over 48 h, whereas largemouth bass and flathead catfish that were retained alive lost 3–6% of their weight over 48 h. Conversely, fish preserved in ice and in a freezer appeared to experience minimal change in weight. Results of this study represent the first published investigation of the impact of preservation method on the change in weight of fish post-catch. This information will inform choice of recommendations by management agencies regarding preservation methods for fish that might be state records.

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