We developed a 'soft' harness for dorsally attaching large, external radio transmitters to northern pike (Esox lucius). The key harness component was a soft, flexible, thick-walled tubing that prevented tissue abrasion by the attachment lines which passed through the tubing. Six field-tagged fish (1.5-7.5 kg) were monitored for 45-115 days before tracking was terminated. Tracking patterns of fish indicated no apparent effect of these large, external transmitters on movement behavior; further, the transmitters did not appear to entangle the fish in vegetation. One fish with its transmitter still secure was recaptured after 54 days, and there was minimal tissue erosion under the transmitter. With minor improvements for the attachment lines and the transmitter saddle, the method is suitable for externally attaching large telemetry transmitters to fish.
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'Soft' harness for external attachment of large radio transmitters to northern pike (Esox lucius)