FL Tourneys Avg 26-28% Mortality?

Say wha? That’s the figure cited as the Florida DNR looks at options for its new long-term Black Bass Management Plan.

And I quote (from this article):

> “Research from the University of Florida and elsewhere has shown that tournament-associated mortality could harm a fishery and prevent managers from meeting objectives. Tournament-associated mortality has been found to average 26-28 percent, and modeling effects of this mortality show that, under certain circumstances, it could affect the sizes of fish available for anglers.”

Then it says:

> “[The FL DNR] continues to review the impact of tournaments. It studied them in the 1980s and again in the ‘90s and found no significant impacts. A subteam is looking at the tournament issue again, as is its technical assistance group of stakeholders representing various groups that use these fisheries or are affected by management decisions.”

And then this – digital tourneys:

> “A team is endeavoring to think outside the box and consider testing alternative solutions, at least for smaller qualifying tournaments, such as digital tournaments. As an example, with smart-phone technology, fish can be photographed on official rulers, date-stamped and the location plotted with GPS accuracy, enabling the angler to release the catch immediately.”

Someone get on the horn down there!



  1. Buzz

    January 14, 2011 at 9:08 am

    This 26-28 % figure has been well known to many for a long time. Even B.A.S.S. Chris Horton and Gene Gilland thinks it is somewhere in this area (as an average). What most folks think is that if a fish doesn’t belly up and stay that way, it has survived. First there is Hook mortality from all the fish C/R, then there is mortality from contact in the livewell – disease, poor water conditions then add to this the weigh-in procedures. How many times do we see 5-8 large Bass being held for an extended period in a plastic bag that contains just a few gallons of water? Held up for photos, and carried in dry bag back to the release site?

    FLW got it right, being willing to try a water weigh-in. Bass clubs refuse (for the most part) to try Catch, Measure and immediate Release.

    • jack mcgee

      January 14, 2011 at 11:32 am

      Buzz, You sound like you work for the Wisc DNR. Through all the culling discussions including the culling study (and teh mortality associated with it), it is very hard to tell which side of the issue you stand. I think you should run for office.

      • Buzz

        January 14, 2011 at 11:46 am

        I was Conservation Director for the MN Bass Federation for 5 years, and had the opportunity to work with Chris Horton, Noreen, Gene and Hal. I’m also currently on a MN DNR Committee that is writing Best Management Practices for Fishing contests. While I think most of the tournaments I have been in and ran, have been well operated, you need to add the summer events into the mix, especially in very warm States. I think the point of the research and studies is not to BASH tournaments, but to suggest ways that we can reduce mortality. By the way, a major Walleye Circuit has gone to catch, measure, and video/image and boat side release. I’m thinking it won’t be long until we see this in Major Bass events. I think most folks would like to see the fish being caught, then watch a weigh-in.
        I suppose you think all these guys work for the WI DNR

        • BryanT

          January 14, 2011 at 12:32 pm

          Read this months BASS Times article by Gene. Even though delayed mortality is usually in the double digits in summer, it really only impacts fisheries of smaller size.

          You referencing Hal irks me, that guy has written more anti tourney stuff in his early days than any other well publicized biologist out there.

          The most objective biologist that is not pushed with political agenda that I’ve spoken with is Gene Gililand. That guy is awesome. In his recent article in BASS Times he says proper fish care is more important than reducing tourneys, creel limits, or the way we do things. He has a website that ensures fish life quite well even in summer.

          It basically comes down to education not regulation.

          • Buzz

            January 14, 2011 at 1:26 pm

            This conversation is great. It’s Friday and snowing up here in MN. The fact that we are somewhat arguing about quality fish care is much more interesting then staring out the window at a snow drift (LOL).

            I love this ‘anti-tournament” label that gets assigned to anything that doesn’t fit with the belief that we do no harm. But like Bill Clinton said, it depends on your definition of “harm”

            One of the best things Ray Scott did was to introduce plastic bags, white plastic wash tubs to bump fish and then weighing and releasing them.

            Now maybe we need to re-evaluate some of this. I think we need to go to catch, measure and release boat side for small bass club events. As more and more lakes get special reg’s, slot and size limits C/M/R can be more practical.

            Water weigh-ins do work, and having mesh bags that allow water flow are much better then holding a plastic bag full of fish in the water. BASS in the BWS and other events have added air stones that can push air right into the bags. While most of the Big Tournament circuits have invested in the equipment and expertise to decrease mortality, a sizable number of events still hold on to plastic bags (Pun intended)

            With diseases like LMBV and VHS maybe we need to revaluate holding large numbers of fish together in tanks or release boat tanks.

            I suspect the research about increased summer tournament mortality will push Fisheries Managers to set new guidelines.
            When I helped with fish care at the Classic, we measured livewell water temps. Some brands of boats were higher then others, the boat guys took note of this and now those same boats have much better livewell insulation. The next evolution might be to make livewell systems that completely drain 100% with the flick of a switch

  2. Dick Durbin

    January 18, 2011 at 10:43 am

    I sent Bob Wattendorf who wrote the FWC Fish Busters article an e-mail when I first saw the report and questioned where he got that 26-28% figure. He cites a second hand figure from a 1998 paper by G.R. Wilde entitled “Tournament-associated mortality in black bass.” I pointed out to him that Wilde later (2003) admitted that the figure was probably too high.

    I also pointed out to Wattendorf that the author of the paper he cited acknowledged that the number of bass harvested had dropped significantly from the mid 70s largely as a result of B.A.S.S.’ catch and release model.

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