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Are well fed bass less likely to be successfully angled than thin bass? #13310524 10/13/19 10:49 PM
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DCM1988 Offline OP
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I was recently engaged in a discussion with several other anglers regarding the rate of angling success for bass per hour fished relative to the amount of forage available for the bass, the implication being that well fed bass are less susceptible
to angling success than bass in lakes with less forage. All of us fish smaller (10-60 acre) private lakes that are actively managed to produce bass. In the lake in question the rate of "catch per hour" is less than some of the other properties and a comment was made that it was likely due "to too much forage" as the bluegill are fed actively and in great numbers. Electrofishing of this property does demonstrate that the bass in this lake are 10-20% above the typical length to weight ratio for the area. I can find no information that suggests that "well fed" bass are less likely to be successfully angled relative to less well fed bass. I believe it is more likely related to more aggressive culling practices and simply fewer bass per acre rather than their nutritional status. I do not (at this point) know the bass load per acre by electrofishing survey.

Is anyone aware of data that supports fisheries with abundant or excessive forage fish are less successfully angled than those with less forage?

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Re: Are well fed bass less likely to be successfully angled than thin bass? [Re: DCM1988] #13310542 10/13/19 11:01 PM
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The natural tendency of a bass is to gluttonously devour food
If there is a surplus of edible sized bait, I’d imagine that would only be a brief, temporary situation

A skinny bass is not a healthy bass. A less healthy bass would be less likely to have the energy to aggressively chase a lure.


That being said:
A lake where bass have been conditioned to feed on a regular supply of stocked bait fish may have been trained to only eat the stocked food.


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Re: Are well fed bass less likely to be successfully angled than thin bass? [Re: DCM1988] #13310958 10/14/19 10:59 AM
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Nothing scientific but the number of regurgitated shad and crawfish in my livewell suggests that bass will strike baits even when they are full. I have caught many, many bass with bellies that look like the spawn.
CCTX may be correct in that the fish may be "trained" to only eat the stocked food.

Try "matching the hatch" with bait colors and size that match the stocked forage.


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Re: Are well fed bass less likely to be successfully angled than thin bass? [Re: DCM1988] #13311051 10/14/19 01:11 PM
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This question is tricky to answer, but there is a scientific approach to it.

We've done creel surveys weighing and measuring length and weight of lots of fish. This data can be used to compute a relative condition factor for each fish, which can then be averaged across a given species. If the relative condition factor is < 100%, the fish is skinny. Over 100%, the fish is fat. Relative condition factor is the best available measure of plumpness and is widely recognized by fisheries scientists.

One can compare this data with the equivalent measurements made from netting or electrofishing the same body of water at the same time. Then one would compare the plumpness from fish caught via angling (creel surveys) and the fish caught by non-angling methods.

We have not had an opportunity to do this for bass, but we have done it for trout in Colorado reservoirs and for some inshore species in Louisiana estuaries. In most cases, there is no support for the idea that fish caught by angling are skinnier than fish caught by other methods. The mean relative condition factors are usually withing a few percent of each other and smaller than the experimental uncertainties.


Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?" - The Messiah
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