Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resources

Department name when degree awarded

Wildlife Science

Committee Chair(s)

Richard S. Wydoski


Richard S. Wydoski


Ronald Goede


Don Sisson


Recent concern about large initial and delayed mortalities resulting from tournament angling for largemouth bass has indicated that it would be desirable to further evaluate the fate of fish that are released after being captured by angling. This study was designed to evaluate sublethal physiological disruptions caused by hooking stress after largemouth bass were played under standardized conditions (0-5 minutes) and to estimate the time needed for recovery of the homeostatic mechanisms (to 72 hours). Blood lactate was used as a measure of metabolic fatigue; plasma osmolality and chloride measurements were used to evaluate osmoregulatory disturbances and gill ion-exchange; and plasma glucose was used as an index of response to generalized non-specific physiological stress. Fatigue of largemouth bass, as indicated by blood lactate values, increased with playing time (0-5 minutes) and was accentuated by an increase in water temperature. Blood lactate levels continued to increase during recovery up to 8 hours but returned to approximate initial values by 24 hours.

Plasma chloride values did not change with playing time (0-5 minutes) at water temperatures of 11-13 C and 28-30 C but increased significantly after 1 minute of playing time at 16-20 C indicating an osmoregulatory disturbance. However, at 11-13 C, the plasma chloride values decreased to below values for controls (0 minute) by 72 hours. At 16-20 C, the plasma chloride levels were nearly normal by 24 hours and were at normal levels by 72 hours.

Plasma osmolality increased with playing time at all temperatures indicating an immediate osmoregulatory disturbance. The osmolality values returned to initial levels by 72 hours at the cooler water temperature of 11-13 C. However, at the warmer water temperature of 16-20 C, the osmolality values had not returned to the initial values by 72 hours.

Plasma glucose did not change at the cooler water temperatures of 11-13 C and 16-20 C but increased significantly at 5 minutes of playing time at 28-30 C reflecting the metabolic response of this species to warmer water temperature. The glucose values remained high throughout the entire 72-hour recovery period.

Smaller bass fatigued faster than larger bass at the higher water temperatures (21-26 C and 28-30 C) as indicated by increased blood lactate values. Smaller bass also demonstrated a faster response in plasma glucose levels, probably as a function of fish size and metabolism. Plasma chloride and osmolality in smaller bass showed a response similar to larger bass with an immediate disturbance in osmoregulatory process of fish as playing time increased.

Stress imposed on largemouth bass that were caught by angling was demonstrated by changes in the blood chemistry which indicated that sublethal disruption had occurred in the metabolism and osmoregulation of the fish. Handling or holding fish after capture, as in fishing tournaments, probably produces more stress on the fish than the act of being caught and played by anglers. Angling stress is additive to other stresses already imposed on the fish and could result in increased mortality of released fish if the fish cannot adapt readily. Furthermore, released fish may also be more susceptible to diseases or fungal infections and more vulnerable to predation.