Largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides (Lacepède) catch rates decline with sustained fishing effort, even without harvest. It is unclear why declines in catch rate occur, and little research has been directed at how to improve catch rate. Learning has been proposed as a reason for declining catch rate, but has never been tested on largemouth bass. If catch rate declines because fish learn to avoid lures, periods of no fishing could be a management tool for increasing catch rate. In this study, six small impoundments with established fish populations were fished for two May to October fishing seasons to evaluate the effect of fishing effort on catch rate. Closed seasons were implemented to test whether a 2‐month period of no fishing improved catch rates and to determine whether conditioning from factors other than being captured reduced catch rate. Mixed‐model analysis indicated catch rate and catchability declined throughout the fishing season. Catch rate and catchability increased after a 2‐month closure but soon declined to the lowest levels of the fishing season. These changes in catch rate and catchability support the conclusion of learned angler avoidance, but sustained catchability of fish not previously caught does not support that associative or social learning affected catchability.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Effect of fishing effort on catch rate and catchability of largemouth bass in small impoundments|
|Series title||Fisheries Management and Ecology|
|Contributing office(s)||Coop Res Unit Atlanta|