Awful cold out to be thinking of bedding bass clown: It is kind of harassing and I'm sure they get stressed by it, but are a more resilient fish than say a salmon or steelie. It is a natural reaction to protect the bed from intruders. I've never run into a bass that was leaking eggs or milt, tho I've never really devoted a day to pulling them of the beds.
A topic that is sure to become heated on this cold winter night. Catching bedding bass is both challenging and fun. Even as a CNR bass fisherman I say go for it; if you release them with decent care they will return to their beds. If you keep a pair, you might as well kiss their potentially surviving offspring goodbye as well. But hey, there are more important and more threatened native species in Washington that get far less respect than bass do, so if you're trying to feed a family of nine with welfare checks then go ahead and kill a few.
On a more personal note, I deffinetly fish for bedding bass. I would not, however, even dream of keeping one off a bed.
I fish for bass probably more than any other fish, and I do fish for them when they are on beds as long as you dont get the fish to tired during the fight and let it go without beating on it or dropping it the fish will swim right back to the bed within minutes, I never keep bass but like mentioned above there are tons of smaller fish to be kept, those big females have some of the good DNA or something that helps them grow that big, I feel if you are that hungry go catch some planter trout, or some pearch or crappie, Im glad a bass post was brought up, all I have been catching with all the ice is triploids and walleye, dont get me wrong its lots of fun but I love bass fishing Tup:
I'v done it. Its fun switchin to all these different baits trying to get em to go for it! And a question. If they are supposed to be protecting their nests so well, why is it when you put a soft plastic within a few inches of the bed they just stare at it..... but half the time dont even touch it!! :shock:
Interesting, this one looks like it could go two ways, one a technique, and the other a moral issue, I agree that Bass are resiliant fish and can see very well, i have tried catching bass on their beds but have had more luck luring them off the beds with somekind of chatterbait or a swim bait swimming right pass the bed and they will usually Dart out to kill the lure before it knows the bed is there, IMO of course, as far as the "should you or not" question, these fish are strong and live in bad conditions pulling a male or female off the bed for a great fight and then releasing the fish back will not hurt any bass or offspring unless the release is poor, even than these fish will still survive sometimes, I love Bass fishing so I say DO It Tup:
bass are much more resilient for catch and release so mortality is far lower. I dont view bass over their beds as bad as fishing for anadromous fish over their beds though mainly because bass aren't native, are very rarely snagged and their beds are not as easily defined.
that being said, the stress probably takes a toll although i can recall as a kid catching the same crappie from what i now know was a spawning bed about 10 times in as many minutes.
salmon and steelhead OTOH are usually snagged/flossed from their beds, usually have lockjaw, are far less resilient for C & R and are much more vulnerable there as they are usually out in the open.
I love it. About the only way I can catch the dang things. Seems fine to me as long as the numbers stay high. I'd think there would be some stress on spawning females being caught time and time again before spawn but I'm not sure.
Dr. Hook -
I have thought about and researched this issue. At one time I fished bass quite a bit and found them to be an interesting and challenging fishery. While I have had success at fishing bedding bass I have notice a dramatic increase in folks targeting bass on their beds.
There is little doubt that when a the guarding male is removed from its bed the eggs in that nest are doomed. Often if the male is immediately released it will often return quickly to its bed and the risk to the eggs is low. However if the fish is removed for even a short period of time (for pictures, tournament weigh-in etc) the eggs are at great risk.
In general most research suggests that fishing on bedding bass does not effect the number of bass available in the lake. In most waters the number of bass available has little to do with the number of young of year bass in the populations. The exception seems to be those waters were failure of the beds is all ready a problem. Typcially those cases are reservoirs where flucating water levels jeopardize the beds and their eggs
Another issue, especially here in our clear waters is that those bedding fish are in shallow water, visible and those males can be forced to bite (even though they are feeding much) which makes them vulunerable to harvest. During the spawning period any harvest would be focused on the adult populations which depending on the specific lake population dynamics and angler interest may be a problem.
A another potential issue that is rarely talked about is the cumulative impacts of multiple release of spawning males on their survival. Clearly the survival of released pass is quite high and bass on the whole are great candidates for a CnR fishery. However with increased interest in fishing those bedding fish and the vulunerability of those bedding males (especially smallmouth) many of those males are being caught on a daily bases - often more than once a day. The end result is that over the spawning season and individual fish may be catch and release a dozen or more times. One only needs to look as some of those males at the end of the spawning season to see that some of those fish have become pin cushions. We need to remember that the largest fish in the population (those 5 pounders or larger fish) are typically 8 to 12 years old and would have spawned 4 to 8 times. Even with hooking mortalities of less than 1% the cumulative mortality over 4 or 5 years with a dozen or more captures per spawning season greatly reduces the probability of those fish living to those old ages needed to produce those "trophy" size fish. One some of the waters that I regularly fish 15 or 20 years ago I would see lots of 4 to 6 males on the beds but today I rarely see 4# fish in the same areas. Attribute the decline in those larger fish in large part to cumulative impacts of bed fishing.
Whether those cumulative impacts are concern I guess depends on you interest in having those larger fish in the popualtion/fishery. For my a large part of the appeal of the bassing fishing was those exceptional fish and I feel that the fishery has been dimished by their lack. It is for that reason that I no longer target bedding fish. But it is also true that currently it is prefectly legal to target the bedding fish and ulimately it up to each of us to decide how such fishing fits in our individual ethics. f I could make one change Ithink it would be to prohibit tournament fish during the spawning period though I realize that would be very unpopular and not likely to happen.
Bass beds are great places to catch Bass. Rivers are a great place to catch Salmon and Steelhead. Same goes for Perch, Crappie, Walley or any other fish while spawning. As soon as we as fishermen start contributing the fishing of spawning grounds to the destruction or reduction of any species of fish, the more we provide support and validity to the animal rights groups arguments that fishing is an unnecessary archaic activity...
Spring-Summer Bass fishing is one of favorites which during that time is during there spawning period and in the shallows. I catch & release anyway for Bass so it doesn't bother me, and where I go most others are fishing for trout.