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5,153 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I belong to Coastal Conservation Assc of Virgina AS WELL as RFA and JCAA.
CCA has chapters in every state on East and Gulf Coast but NJ and RI. In my "humble" opinion they rely MORE on scientific data when supporting a position rather that popularity like the JCAA and RFA seems to do more of.
In their latest magazine there is an article on Catch and release of Speckled Trout ,most Gulf States have slot limits and a lot of noise was raised by fisherman of hooked fish dying
Texas AM did a scientific study and what was found was the thought to be fragile Speckled trout survived quite well after being hooked any place in the mouth and/or eye area.Big Trout,little trout ,no difference
Many of the fish studied were caught in tournaments and several were caught twice
Fish caught were placed in holding pens and monitored for 72 hours before releasing back into the wild
Too much data to report on here but if interested you can go to ,go the link on publications and click on TIDE
Good Science is what is needed to protect our stocks not a popular vote
Slots work in the Southeast and they will work in NJ for bass, trout,Bluefish :cool:

19,485 Posts
Here we go again. :D

31,457 Posts
Hard to argue with 100% in colder water

The Truth About Trout
A study examining catch-and-release survival rates debunks the image of fragile speckled trout.

By Ted Venker
Sept/Oct 2005

At some point in human history, everyone knew the Earth was the center of the universe. At another point, everyone knew the Earth was flat. And at still another point, every angler knew that speckled trout were notoriously fragile creatures that could not survive being caught and released.

Science and reason overcame the first two myths hundreds of years ago, but the third has proven more stubborn. Doubts over the durability of speckled trout were raised as recently as two years ago during the debate over Texas? new rule limiting anglers to one trout per day over 25 inches. Many anglers expressed skepticism that a big trout would survive the process, implying that a released fish was simply a wasted fish.

?There were just not enough data to support the belief that those fish were going to survive,? said Dr. Greg Stunz, Assistant Professor of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC). ?How do you encourage anglers to practice catch-and-release for trout when you don?t have data to support that it is a sound practice for this species?


That question drove Stunz to begin a study on the catch-and-release survival rates of speckled trout in his Fisheries Ecology Research Lab at TAMUCC, a project that has had strong CCA ties from the beginning.

Stunz was the recipient of the first graduate student scholarship awarded by CCA Texas in 1993 and obviously put the scholarship to good use in the Texas A&M University Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. He now heads a team of five graduate students working on the project and relies on the advice and counsel of Dr. David McKee, a TAMUCC collaborator and long-time CCA supporter. In fact, Dr. McKee is one of the original founders of Gulf Coast Conservation Association.

Phase I and II of the study were funded by CCA Texas, with Phase I focused solely on determining survival rates. Much of the work will become part of a Master?s thesis for Jason James, a graduate student working on the project.

?As with any scientific study, the more answers you find, the more questions you develop, but Phase I clearly demonstrated that these fish are hardier than anyone imagined,? Stunz said. ?Catch-and-release is a valid management tool.?

Stunz is a lifelong fisherman and clearly enthusiastic about his work, so much so that he has turned his home in Port Aransas into a sort of lab for the project. Living on a canal just minutes from the open bay provides the perfect venue to house freshly caught trout. Tucked away under his dock are large enclosures where the fish are kept five to a cage for about 72 hours before being tagged and released. Other fish are kept for 30-day observation periods at the CCA/AEP/TPWD Marine Development Center in Flour Bluff.

Stunz and his team simulated true fishing conditions when capturing the hundreds of fish for the study by wadefishing and keeping the trout in mesh baskets for at least 30 minutes before transferring them into coolers for the boat ride back to the holding pens. The coolers are oxygenated, but not supercharged, and no special care is taken with the fish. They are handled in a variety of ways just as they would be on a regular weekend trip, and some are even kept on stringers hooked through the jaw to simulate normal angling practices.

The team measures oxygen content, salinity and temperature of the water both at the capture point and in the pens to establish relationships between the two locations. To ensure that nothing fishy is happening in the water around the holding pens, a control cage is situated nearby, stocked with healthy fish that have not been handled. These fish help the team keep tabs on any holding stress associated with the ?cage effect.?


The results have been encouraging. From October through April, not a single fish caught by the team and held for three days in the pens died. As water temperatures heated up, fish began to exhibit more signs of stress, but even in August 85-90 percent of the fish survived. Results from the fish kept for 30 days revealed that if a fish makes it past the first 72 hours survival is almost assured.

Further analysis revealed no difference in survival rates for those originally kept in mesh baskets or on a stringer through the jaw. Big fish fared as well as smaller ones, and there was no appreciable difference in the survival rates of fish caught using traditional J hooks, kahle hooks or treble hooks. Types of bait did not sway the results either, with trout hooked on live finfish or croaker just as likely to survive as those hooked on lures.

?We hypothesized that we would see higher mortality for the big fish, but it is just not there,? Stunz said.

In addition to the fish caught by Stunz and his team, several catch-and-release fishing tournaments on the Texas coast have participated in the study, providing some real-world validation of the study?s findings.

?Generally we have found a 75 to 90 percent survival rate for fish brought to the dock in these events,? he said. ?Given the amount of stress associated with tournament handling, those survival rates are very high.?

Without the facilities to hold fish for an extended period at the tournaments, the team tallies up how many fish arrive alive or dead, and then observe the survivors for several hours before tagging and releasing them. By tagging those fish, Stunz and his team can collect data on long-term survival and dispersal of released trout.

?We have some fish that have survived two of these tournaments,? he said. Recently, the most significant factor on survival for tournament fish seems to be whether the format allows wadefishing. Non-wadefishing formats have a 90 percent survival rate versus 75 percent for those that allow wadefishing.

?If you are on a tournament boat and catch a fish, it goes right into an oxygenated livewell, so there is a lot less stress,? he said. ?Waders often hold fish in a mesh basket or on a stringer for extended periods of of time. Tournament fish are also handled more, all of which increases stress.?


Although not nearly as many as anyone thought, some trout do not survive, and so Phase II of the study focused on the specific reasons for a trout?s demise.

?Really it all comes down to a couple of overriding factors and where the fish is hooked seems to be the most critical,? Stunz said. ?Also playing a large part in mortality rates is the experience of the angler.?

A trout that inhales a bait and ends up swallowing the hook is almost certainly doomed, with only 5 percent of such fish living to tell the tale. Fish hooked in the gills tend to appear healthy for about 45 minutes, but only about 25 percent survive long term. Fish hooked externally with large wounds to the body cavity also have a very high mortality rate.

However, trout hooked anywhere in the mouth externally or even in the eye, for example, have very good odds for long-term survival. The good news is that on average 85 percent of fish captured by anglers are hooked in the mouth.

Not surprisingly, angler experience plays a role on whether a trout lives to fight again. Old salts generally land fish quicker and know how to handle and release them quickly, with a minimum of stress. Novices are much harder on fish.

?Whether you are a pro or a rookie, if you have to handle a fish, remember not to use a towel. It removes scales and the slime layer from the fish,? Stunz said, referring to the protective layer covering the fish?s body. ?One tournament where the weigh-master used a towel was our highest mortality for a tournament that we measured. Use a wet hand, support the fish?s weight, minimize their time out of the water and don?t let them hit the deck.?

The information gathered by Dr. Stunz and his team will be packaged and made available to anglers as a brochure and on the CCA Texas webpage (, providing valuable tips for how anglers should handle trout to increase the odds of survival. There will also be catch-and-release information for tournaments that will be available to participants.

?Some of these tournament fish will come in looking pretty bad and you think there is no way they are going to survive, but in 30 days they are completely recovered,? Stunz said. ?The fish we catch and hold for our studies do a lot better than anyone thought. We can only expect the results would be even better for fish caught and released right on the spot by anglers.?

Encouraging news for anglers and trout alike.
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