Deep Water Smallies
July 24, 2013
I had been contacted by the Quebec ministry to do a deep water smallmouth experiment and spent three days collecting specimens with them. They were trying to evaluate the mortality vs. survival rate from fish caught in excess of 30 feet. Due to the high number of tournaments held each year, this had become a concern and they were given the green light to set it up. Cages were placed in specific locations to hold these fish and large enough to allow them access to various depth ranges. After catching the fish, they were tagged with micro chips, measured, weighed and a blood sample was removed for DNA. The fish remained healthy in the livewell throughout the day but due to their air bladders over inflated, they were upside down the entire time. Fizzing was to be done only if required after being placed into the cages. By simulating the effects of a typical tournament day in captivity, they wanted to monitor how the fish reacted. As with any tournament, the largest possible fish were only wanted and this wasn’t a problem. We had fish in the 4 to over 5 pound range in the well pretty much every day and managed good numbers for their experiment. For three days, we collected smallmouth bass and everyone caught their share. In fact, I think everyone had personal bests by the time it was all over! I was fortunate to meet up with different people each day and everyone was great. What helped however was the fact that they were all fishermen and caught on immediately, fishing deep. Kudos to the biologists and ministry guys for their efforts in trying to preserve such a tremendous fishery! Overall, it was a great three days of fishing with plenty of quality fish for the experiment. Hopefully the results will be positive and help improve fish released after being held captive. I’m sure this is just the start of a long process of information & gatherings, geared towards protecting an already great fishery. I can’t wait to get back out with them and see the results!!