Date of this Version
We studied the initial mortality of black bass Micropterus spp. that were captured, weighed in, and released in fishing tournaments conducted by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society between 1972 and 1998. Mean annual initial mortality (i.e., mortality before weigh-in and release) ranged from 1% to 30%. Initial mortality was greatest during the 1970s (15.2%) and decreased during the 1980s (5.7%) and 1990s (1.9%). Because initial mortality was uniformly low ( ≤5%) after 1982, we used results for 1983–1998 to assess relationships involving initial mortality. Initial mortality was correlated with bag size, mean fish weight per angler, and number of fish per angler. Logistic regression showed that these three variables and their interactions explained significant portions of the variation in black bass initial mortality. Our results suggest that the initial survival of black bass caught in tournaments can be improved by reducing the number or total weight of fish that anglers can hold in their live wells during the day. This could be accomplished by decreasing tournament bag limits.