Authors
  • Siepker, Michael
  • Cooke, Steven J.
  • Wahl, David H.
  • Philipp, David P.
Universities

Summary

The continued popularity of angling for largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides and smallmouth bass M. dolomieu has led to concerns about the effects it may have on fish populations, including the realized fitness of individuals. Although catch‐and‐release angling and its effects on nest abandonment have been well documented, very little research has examined the effect that competitive angling practices may have on nest abandonment. We subjected nest‐guarding male largemouth bass in one lake and smallmouth bass in four lakes to various competitive angling practices (i.e., livewell retention, release after displacement from the nest, and a combination of these practices) and assessed subsequent nest abandonment. We also examined the importance of nest predation on the nest abandonment decisions of male bass by protecting some of the nests from predation after the angling event. Nest abandonment by largemouth bass was affected by angling treatment, the water depth at the nest site, and brood size but was not affected by male size. Angling treatment and lake influenced abandonment by smallmouth bass guarding eggs, whereas angling treatment, lake, and the presence of a protective nest cover influenced nest abandonment by smallmouth bass guarding fry. The only factor that influenced abandonment for both species and all stages was angling treatment, with abandonment being highest for all treatments that involved prolonged removal and displacement (i.e., the complete tournament simulation). These findings could be important to bass populations if year‐class size is related to the number of successful nests. The effects of angling, both catch and release and competitive, on individual nesting success in largemouth bass and smallmouth bass are now well understood, although additional work is needed to determine whether disruption of nesting at the individual level translates to population‐level effects.

Methodology

Snorkel survey, catch and release

Location