View Full Version : Striped Bass Mortality Study By Craig Springer

09-03-2008, 06:30 PM
Researchers recently published findings on hooking mortality of striped bass
caught and released across the southern U.S.

For those of you that have had the unfortunate circumstance of taking
college statistics, first, my condolences.

If you survived, you might remember that sample size is an all-important
variable. How many are you measuring--what's your sample size? The more data
you have, the more meaningful your statistics. A stats professors of mine
once jokingly said that a sample size of 10 was nearing infinity, and that
the statistical possibilities were boundless. Real funny--more evidence that
statisticians are accountants without the personality.

Joking aside, researchers at the Texas Tech Department of Range, Wildlife,
and Fisheries Management recently published in the North American Journal of
Fisheries Management their findings on hooking mortality of some 1,200
striped bass -- a huge and quite meaningful sample size -- from fish caught
and released from across the southern U.S. They pulled information from
previous hooking mortality studies done in North and South Carolina,
Maryland, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas. The findings could have
implications to striper fisheries across the country.

Dr. Gene Wilde led research looking into how bait type and water temperature
affected the survivability of striped bass caught and released. The study
essentially asked: Are fish caught on natural baits more apt to die from
injury than one caught trolling a crank bait? And temperature, the warmer
the water the worse for wear? Here's what Dr. Wilde and his team of
researchers found.

Regardless of bait type, 29 percent of striped bass caught and released died
within three days. But compared between bait types, it was higher for fish
caught on natural baits, at 42 percent. For artificial baits mortality was a
much lower 25 percent.

But bait type alone didn't explain the variation. Water temperature figures
prominently in whether fish will survive. Simply put, the warmer the water,
the more likely a released striper is to perish, regardless of size.
Climbing into the 80s, nearly 70 percent of stripers caught on natural baits
and 57 percent caught on artificials, perished.

According to Dr. Wilde, the exact implications of his findings to striper
populations will vary from water to water, but to him, one thing is clear.

"Our results do call into question catch-and-release fishing, especially in
summer," said Wilde. "Catch and release is viewed as having little effect on
populations, but when more than 30 percent of fish die, even in cooler
water, I have a hard time justifying releasing fish. Instead, requiring
anglers to keep all fish captured, up to their bag limit may be better."

Another alternative to striper management is seasonal closure. While it
would afford some protection to stripers, Wilde admits its not likely to
happen with many striper fisheries. Instead, Wilde thinks a seasonal
relaxing of length limits might be better. Anglers might just go ahead and
keep what would otherwise be an undersized fish, given minimally a third of
released fish would perish anyway.

This year as you sally forth to partake of top-notch striper fishing, think
about what's at the end of your line. If you belong to the secular church of
catch and release, are you practicing what you preach? Is your quarry going
to survive to be caught another day?

I can hardly think of statistics and not have Twain's famous "Lies, dang
lies, and statistics" come to mind, but this evidence is convincing. When
and how you fish for stripers could have a lasting impact to your sport.
According to Wilde's research, you do have a choice.

09-04-2008, 04:44 AM
This is just one study there are several others with varrying results I encourage everyone to reasearch on your own and not base your catch on this study. One thing for sure if you put him in a icebox I can assure you that the mortality rate is 100%. DORIGHT