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Catch-and-release angling is gaining popularity worldwide and plays an increasingly important role in both fisheries management and conservation. Mortality from catch-and-release angling is well documented across species, but the sublethal effects have not been evaluated in a natural
setting. Laboratory studies have yielded mixed results regarding catch-and-release impacts on fish growth. These studies do not adequately capture the scales of stress and variability of a natural system. We used a 27-year mark–recapture study of 1050 individually tagged largemouth bass
(Micropterus salmoides) to determine the effects of catch-and-release angling on the growth in a natural setting. Individual bass were angled one to six times per season. Recapture intervals ranged from 1 to 98 days. Largemouth bass exhibited a post-release period (~6 days)
of weight loss. Following this weight loss, we observed a subsequent period of compensatory growth facilitating recovery to normal weight. We found that catch-and-release angling had little impact on the overall seasonal growth patterns of largemouth bass and therefore should have limited
adverse effects on growth-dependent ecological functions.
Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA. 2:
Department of Biology, St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI 54115, USA.
Publication date: February 7, 2012
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Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.