The social , gregarious fish are simply too precious to “one hand” or lift out of the water

largemouth_glasses Our study involving largemouth bass provides the
first direct experimental evidence that vulnerability to
angling is a heritable trait and, as a result, that
recreational hook-and-line fisheries can cause evolutionary
change in fish populations.

– via Selection for Vulnerability to Angling in Largemouth Bass

A twenty year study on Largemouth Bass yields an eye-opening conundrum for anglers, as the research suggests that Bass pass the likelihood for being caught from one generation to the next.

A 20-year study, led by University of Illinois research David Philipp, provided the first direct experimental proof that vulnerability to angling is an inherited trait.
Beginning in the 1970s, Philipp and his colleagues tagged and released largemouth bass in a pond in central Illinois. Some fish were caught up to 16 times a year. But when the pond was drained in the 1980s, they found that 200 of the 1,700 bass that were tagged had never been caught.
From that stock, the researchers bred groups of "high-vulnerability" and "low-vulnerability" bass. Then they stocked those fish in the same pond and repeated the experiment. Through three generations, the offspring stayed true to the parents’ tendencies.

– via Red Bluff Daily News

Years ago, US anglers took great exception to the practice of killing wild trout that was common on managed water in Europe and the UK. Angling restrictions required the fish be kept, as the prevailing theory was, “once it’s felt the hook – it’s not likely to eat an artificial again.”

The document mentions that Rainbow Trout have been used in similar research but fails to mention any conclusions of their use as subjects.

While the above conclusion is limited to Largemouth Bass, if it were to hold for most gamefish, then killing fish that take any fly, lure, or bait, ensures only the antisocial, cagey fish are left to breed, thereby ensuring that the fishery is ruined for us beer drinking vacationers …

Of interest is the description of the Largemouth’s vision, it can see about 50 feet with a resolution quality of about 10% that of a human.

Several lure companies have come out with highly touted lures with intricate paint patterns designed to imitate baitfish. But many of those baits proved to be a disappointment and never did sell the way manufacturers hoped they would.

The problem? They might have been too accurate.

Too much realism can make the bait invisible to prowling bass, based on distance and diminished vision quality. A bass might miss the movement should the lure be at sufficient distance (water being murky) whose camouflage was simply too good to be detected.

"The bass uses its eyesight and lateral line in combination when it is feeding," Jones said. "The lateral line is very effective in feeling local disturbances one to two body lengths away."

The full research paper was published in 2009 by the American Fisheries Society, and is available in PDF.

Now that we understand all those “red-state conservatives” no longer believe in Science, we can go down there and kick some tournament ass.

2 thoughts on “The social , gregarious fish are simply too precious to “one hand” or lift out of the water”

  1. No comments?!

    This is a fascinating long term study. One of few where funding has been made available to really have a good look at the impact of recreational fishing. I have been following the work closely – there have been a number of other publications (the rainbow trout paper shows the same thing on a smaller scale). The implications are that catch and release shapes fish populations and their evolution through “non-lethal predation.” So much for no impact.

    And no comments? Sigh.

  2. I’ve assumed that fly fishermen are scientists only by convienience … A decade ago we were so immersed in entomology and logical thought that we happily explained all streamside phenomenon with latin and physics.

    Then someone put a gold bead on the front of a fly, and the crowd went silent.

    If they attempted to explain how a bright copper bead, which has no parallel in Nature, could catch fish – they would have to realize that fish were stupid and would strike a dog turd with as much gusto as a Mayfly nymph.

    Fly fishermen have had no use for science since…

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