Scientists Seek Angler Assistance in Bass-tagging Project
Scientists from the Lake Champlain Research Institute at SUNY Plattsburgh are seeking cooperation from anglers who may run across tagged bass in Lake Champlain this year.
The tagging program is intended to assess the fate of fish following release from popular bass tournaments on Lake Champlain. The fishery biologists plan to implant several hundred bass with T-bar tags prior to their release from bass tournament weigh-in events in 2011 and 2012. Each tag carries a unique number, along with LCRI contact information.
Tags will feature the letters SMB or LMB followed by a four-digit number and an email address.
Anglers who recover tagged fish are asked to simply send an email to the address on the tag and indicate the date, tag number and approximate location of recovery. There is no need to remove the tag, though tag removal may make it easier to read the information. The names of anglers reporting tags will automatically be entered in a drawing for complimentary hats and tee-shirts.
A pilot study in 2010 produced a tag return rate of about 4 percent. Scientists are hopeful that a higher tag return rate this year will provide valuable information. Over time, the tag returns may allow them to draw conclusions about dispersal patterns of fish following release from Plattsburgh-based tournaments hosted by the city and the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau.
T-bar tags have been used for years in both marine and freshwater fisheries studies. The base of the tag is anchored under the fish’s dorsal fin, and a trailing spaghetti-like filament contains the printed text. The tags used on smallmouth are yellow, while those be implanted in largemouth are orange.
Though the survival of bass after catch-and-release angling has been well studied, a few knowledge gaps remain, LCRI scientists say. Research on other lake systems suggests that bass do not disperse as well as other fish and may remain closer to the release site. Long-term dispersal rates need to be studied. Biologists at LCRI wish to study these and to compare dispersal patterns between those of smallmouth and largemouth bass.
The biologists believe results from this research should help managers sustain the high quality black bass (smallmouth and largemouth) fishery in Lake Champlain, which is vital to the continuation of high profile, economically important tournaments in Plattsburgh, Burlington and Ticonderoga.