Catch-and-Release Mortality of Inland Striped Bass and Hybrid Striped Bass
Jason M. Bettinger and Gene R. Wilde
Abstract.— We conducted a meta-analysis of existing studies of striped bass Morone saxatilis and hybrid striped bass (striped bass × white bass M. chrysops)catch-and-release mortality in freshwaters. Water temperature or season (P < 0.0001) and anatomical site of hooking (P < 0.0001) were the most consistently significant predictors of striped bass catch-and-release mortality. Bait type (P = 0.0007), presence of bleeding in hooked fish (P = 0.0017), and handling time (P = 0.0363) also affected catch-and-release mortality. Only two studies examined catch-and-release mortality of hybrid striped bass. We conducted surveys of fishery management agencies and striped bass fishing clubs to assess their opinions about the importance of catch-and-release mortality in striped bass and hybrid striped bass fisheries. Compared with fishery management agencies, a greater proportion of fishing clubs believed that catch-and-release mortality impacted striped bass fisheries. In general, fishery management agencies believed that striped bass catch-and-release mortality was low, although most had little information, and viewed catch-and-release mortality as a social, rather than biological, issue. To assess the potential impacts of catch-and-release mortality on striped bass fisheries, we constructed a simple model that, based on average summer release rates and water temperatures, estimated the proportion of striped bass total summer catch lost to catch-and-release mortality. Estimates ranged from 16% to 60% (mean = 36%) if all fish were captured on natural baits and 11% to 31% (mean = 19%) if all fish were captured on artificial baits. Although most fishery management agencies view catch-and-release mortality of striped bass and hybrid striped bass as mostly a social issue, it appears that they currently underestimate the magnitude of the biological problems presented by catch-andrelease fishing for striped bass and hybrid striped bass.