Find answers, ask questions, and connect with other fishing enthusiasts.

Forums Forums Percy Priest Lake Dumb question, but here goes

  • Dumb question, but here goes

    Posted by krogers79 on April 21, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Everyone always loves this time of year for bass fishing as the big girls are “easier” to catch and tourney weights skyrocket through March, April, and May. My question is, what impact does riding around in a boat all day have on a spawning female. I am as guilty as the next person come tourney time and I have often thought about what the outcome was when that female was released back. With two large tourneys coming up on Priest this weekend and some smaller ones, you can be assured that there will be many spawning fish caught and weighed. Are we being good conservationist by “relocating” these fish. As I said, I’m not throwing blame, because I am as guilty as anyone else. I’m not talking about riding them around for photo opps, because that is a whole other can of worms…simply talking about tourney time where there are 30-150 boats in the tourney all trying to catch 5 fish to weigh in.

    tnbassman10 replied 8 years, 2 months ago 7 Members · 11 Replies
  • 11 Replies
  • tennesseejed

    April 21, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    NO !! GREAT question. Curious to hear the comments.

  • tnbassman10

    April 21, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    I didn’t major in Fisheries science in school but our facility sponsor for the TTU bass team was a “fish professor.” He said tournament anglers were just as bad to the fish as someone who catches them to eat them. In fact, his logic claimed that tournament fishermen were worse because on average tournament fishermen are “better” fishermen (his logic) and therefore catch more fish/go fishing more often. He said that according to studies, fish released in summertime tournaments have a mortality rate of nearly 40%! That means that the stress of being caught, placed in a small box, beat around the lake, dropped in a bag, held up for pictures, then released back to the lake kills nearly 1/2 of all tournament fish. He explained that most of these fish are never seen because they swim down to the bottom and due to the stress just lay there and die basically.

    I have NO idea if this is true or not.

    He also said that bigger fish tend to die easier due to stress compared to smaller fish. I tend to agree with this statement. Therefore, I would imagine that the more bedding fish you catch, the more harm you do to the fish population than good. I’m sure that stresses out momma and of course ruins the bed she had chosen and she’s going to be across the lake from it now.

    Interesting question. I can’t wait to hear the discussion.

    P.S.- That professor was kind of a grumpy old man so who knows if what he said was true. However, he was a smart, grumpy old man none the less.

  • krogers79

    April 21, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    It’s funny that BASS, FLW, BFL all report live release statistics. Sure the fish immediately swim off, but do they make it very far. I am sure studies have been done, but when you look at a lake the size of Priest and the amount of boat traffic that will be out this weekend, it’s concerning about all of those big girls that may get pulled off bed. None the less, I will be fishing the USA Bassin tourney on Saturday.

  • Brian

    April 21, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Here is an article that I read that was pretty good. I’m no biologist, but I would think that if that many fish died after released from tournaments the fishing would get worse. Priest seems to be a strong lake with tons of big bass considering the pressure it gets. I can say where I grew up on the Potomac River they would have blocked off areas during the spawn where fishermen were not allowed to fish.


    If you want to start a long and heated argument among a group of bass anglers, simply ask if fishing should be prohibited during the spawning season. Carry the question a step further in level of detail and ask if organized tournament fishing should be banned during the period. While logic and emotion might tend to make most respondents reply positively to both queries, formal studies indicate that fishing during the spawn, even if specifically for trophies, does not appear to harm the Florida bass populations.

    Surveys indicate that anglers have seven general concerns regarding ‘bed fishing’ for bass:
    Major, organized tournaments and the attendant professional anglers catch too many bedding bass.
    Even if ‘catch-and-release’ is practiced (such as in tournaments), removing the bass from their spawning areas and the stress imposed on the fish will prevent a spawn from taking place.
    It constitutes ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’.
    Results in over-harvest of the trophy population.
    The taking of the larger spawning bass gradually depletes the trophy gene pool.
    It disturbs the spawning site and causes the bass to leave and not spawn.
    It results in insufficient reproduction and the negative effects on later year group availabilities.
    In determining the possible validity of these concerns, we reviewed study findings available from a number of sources: the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission (FG&FWFC), the University of Florida (Lake George program), the University of Alabama, and the Texas Fish and Game Department. The following remarks, keyed to the seven concerns noted above, are extracted from those findings.

    The idea that the ‘Pro’ tournament anglers catch so many bass that they pose a threat to the fishery is easily dispelled. Comparisons of nationwide data have shown that the average success rates of the professionals (in terms of fish caught per hour) are only very slightly better than non-tournament fishermen. (The average bass angler catches approximately 1.5 bass per eight-hour day, or slightly less than .19 bass per hour). Granted, some professionals do catch a lot of bass, but they are a very small percentage of the whole. The low numbers of fish caught in major tournaments, given the total man-hours expended, is very surprising. To prove this to yourself, insert the results of any given tournament into the following equation and note the catch rates. (BassMaster and Bass’N Gal magazines provide detailed tournament results and are good sources for this information.)

    “If a big female (bass) hasn’t spawned yet and is released in good shape, then it is likely she will spawn,” notes Clarence Bowling, biologist in charge of the Jasper, Texas fish hatchery. He noted that the Texas Fish and Game Department categorized 425 tournament-caught bass by sex and then transported them 12 miles to concrete holding troughs. The next day, they were moved another 400 miles to spawning ponds at the Dundee Hatchery in Wichita Falls. Although this study is not yet complete, initial indications are that there was a very high spawn rate.

    Whether taking a spawning bass off the bed is ethical, or not, is a personal issue. Contrary to some beliefs, a bedding bass is NOT easy to catch, particularly the big females. It is true that the small males are often aggressive in their guardian duties, but the trophy fish, the one most anglers are aiming for, is very difficult to catch. The FG&FWFC reports that more trophy bass are harvested just prior to and just after the actual spawning period, when they are more active. Therefore, available data indicates that bed fishing in no way results in what some refer to as ‘over- harvesting’.

    Regarding the depletion of the gene pool, it must be noted that the large bedding bass have obviously contributed many, many offspring to the population over the previous spawning years. Consequently, if their genes are superior, they have more than made their contribution back to the continuation and betterment of the species.

    As previously noted in the Texas study of tournament- caught bass, a bass moved from a specific spawning area apparently has no trouble spawning in another. Therefore, disturbing the spawning site or scaring the bass away probably has no effect on the eventual spawn.

    Obviously, taking a spawn-ready female from the bed will, if she is killed, reduce the numbers of young bass produced. However, Nature has a very definite way of insuring the survival of enough of the young to maintain the population density at a specified level. If too many young are hatched, their mortality rate is high; and, the reverse appears true if there is a poor spawn. Phil Chapman, a senior biologist with the FG&FWFC’s Lakeland headquarters reports that it takes only a very few spawning females to successfully maintain the bass population of a body of water. Chapman stated, “If the female bass population of a lake were reduced to only two, those two would be sufficient to fully restock the lake to the natural population density.”

    Major tournament promoters have realized that the future of there programs may well lie in their efforts and success towards preserving and sustaining the fishery resource. Aerated live-wells, chemical treatments to reduce infection and lower stress levels, and controlled-temperature holding tanks are a few of the current methods employed to protect the catch until release. And, it appears that these procedures are working. Dr. Hobson Bryan, of the University of Alabama, gathered data on a number of major Bass Angler Sportsman Society tournaments held in Texas, Arkansas and Alabama in 87-88. Bass were monitored at the weigh-ins and for 18-25 days thereafter while in holding tanks. Dr. Bryan’s findings support the Society’s claim that they kill few of their catch, in that 98 percent of the monitored bass survived with no ill effects.

    So, whether it’s tournament anglers going after spawning bass or just catching all the bass in your lake that concerns you, it appears that you have nothing to worry about. The Pro’s don’t do much better than the rest of us.

  • krogers79

    April 21, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    Excellent article Brian. Eases my concerns somewhat. Priest gets hammered week in and week out from March through October and it still produces very strong sacks considering there isn’t any aquatic vegetation like your typical famed largemouth lakes. I just think about weekends like this one where there could easily be two 100 boat tournaments in two days out of one marina and I wonder if that is healthy for the lake.

    Oh and if I only averaged 1.5 bass per 8 hour period, I would quit fishing. 🙂 Only kidding!

  • blockel

    April 21, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    Thanks for the article, it’s an interesting read. I have a feeling you could find quite a few articles on this topic and depending on the opinion of the author you would get slightly different perspectives. I know, for whatever reason, Aaron Martens doesn’t think that people should be allowed to keep fish/fish tournaments during the spawn and regardless what you think of the dude or how quirky he is, he knows his s(***)tuff! But as the article has eluded to, maybe its because he personally doesn’t believe it’s “ethical”.

    Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of fishing, specifically tournament fishing, during the spawn. Simply put, I just think there’s a higher chance for those females to have a successful spawn if they’re not tampered with, and ultimately the more females that are successful, the better chance for that species to thrive. Not that I blame anyone for doing it. Heck, when I get a tournament worthy boat, I won’t love it but I’ll probably fishing a spawn tourney from time to time. But I’ve got to be honest, when it’s around the spawn I’m usually trying to catch the late-to-spawn pre-spawners or the early post-spawners. Just something about pulling them off their beds has never got my motor running. Just my two cents.

  • jard

    April 22, 2016 at 2:50 am

    This has to cause stress on them and I wonder the same thing. I dont fish many tourneys and alway try and put back exactly where I got them. But not against it. Also, I guarantee that raising and lowering the lake at different times also cause as much damage to the fish and eggs as fishermen.

  • krogers79

    April 22, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    The fluctuation of the lake levels has to have an impact.

  • philip-nichols

    April 23, 2016 at 3:10 am

    Have y’all ever put much thought into the MANY boats that spider rig snatching hundreds of keeper crappie per day from the lake before they can spawn? I’ve seen guys numerous times put in and limit out in less than 2 hours which is outstanding and I’m happy for them because most of them are just trying to put food on the table, but I wonder if that type of fishing by so many people will end up hurting the crappie population down the road. Just something that has crossed my mind a few times thought I’d throw it out there.

  • Brian

    April 23, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    I’ve thought the same thing…..and I know I’m one to talk. However, I think the 10″ limit is for just that. By the time a crappie reaches 10″ he/she had already spawned once if not twice in it’s life. It would be hard to deplete them.

  • tnbassman10

    April 24, 2016 at 4:45 am

    About the spawn, I was just speaking of my own opinion (uneducated on the subject).

    About the summer time mortality rate, that’s what the professor said. He wasn’t talking about spawning fish. He’s talking June-August day-time tournaments with hot water.

Log in to reply.