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carpmanjake

bass on beds?

53 posts in this topic

i was wondering if anyone has ever targetted smallmouth on there beds. i watched hank parker do it on his show this morning. and i was gonna try on bass opener. i was gonna just wade the shallows on ida.

do you think the smallies will be on there beds on opener? how about the smallies?

also where would i look to find smallmouth beds?

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the ethics of it are for you to decide. they are open to predation and exhaustion (they dont eat too much while guarding nests) if you take them off

its a personal choice, I used to when i was your age but i refrain now

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the ethics of it are for you to decide. they are open to predation and exhaustion (they dont eat too much while guarding nests) if you take them off

its a personal choice, I used to when i was your age but i refrain now

i know there is alot of controversy about nest fishing. i have caught many bass off beds the past few years. and they always are back there within an hour. and they were on them every time i went there after that (like every other day)

so i dont really worry about the eggs being eaten like i use to. also look at all the pros that do it. if there was much of a chance at all at harming the population, im pretty sure the pros wouldnt be doing it.

and look at sunfish and crappie... closely related to the LM and SM bass. people catch them off their nests all the time. they dont get much critisism for it. and alot of those arent released.

most bass are realeased. but panfish arent... but bass fisherman get all the hate for bed fishing... i dont get it.

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carpmanjake, you should read smallmouth bass from in-fisherman from what iv read the smallie is more pickie than the LM and can stop spawning if bothered to much the slightest change in water temp or water leval can stop them from spawning at all. theres more info that i read on bassmaster web page. its up to you and i wouldnt judge you either way.

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carpmanjake, you should read smallmouth bass from in-fisherman from what iv read the smallie is more pickie than the LM and can stop spawning if bothered to much the slightest change in water temp or water leval can stop them from spawning at all. theres more info that i read on bassmaster web page. its up to you and i wouldnt judge you either way.

really? hank was litterally ontop of the smallmouth beds with his boat, and they didnt care. he said they are no where near as spooly as LM. confused

i think im just gonna refrain from targetting the smallies. they arent very common in the area, at least i dont think they are

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was that the show he had that musky grab that sm on the way in.

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just because a pro angler/tv personality does it, doesn't mean you should. i encourage you to read up on it

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just because a pro angler/tv personality does it, doesn't mean you should. i encourage you to read up on it

alright. sorry.

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was that the show he had that musky grab that sm on the way in.

i dont think so.

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You got to remember the pro's are fishing for $$ and alot of it, they are pretty ruthless imho and don't always portray whats best for the fishery. Just my opinion and people can flame it if they want. I try not to target beds and I will not target smallies on beds, very rarely are females on beds anyway after opener it usually the smaller males that aren't much fun to catch anyway imho

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I think carpmanjake has made a great call by deciding not to fish on the beds. We are all stewards of the land and waters. I would not shoot a turkey on nest (illegal) or bait deer or elk, not allowed in AZ. I also will not hunt over a water hole for big game. Simply I feel they need every chance to forage and drink as much as possible. When they are coming off the water, 100 yrds or so then they are fair to me. This is my personal thought. I admire a person who will take the suggestions of others and actually consider them and act on them. You will go far in this world with morals like that and I commend you.

good luck

Jeff Phoenix AZ

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I don't think fishing bass off their beds does much harm at all if you release the fish. The delayed bass opener in MN is lame IMO. I could be wrong aren't we one of the only states that has a delayed bass opener. A lot of other states allow you to fish bass during the spawn, if it did so much damage you would think they would call a halt to it asap. I would like to see a catch and release bass season that opens on the regular fishing opener and then runs for a few weeks after. Look at pool 4 for walleyes you can fish down there all year and keep fish it doesn't seem like that fishery is hurting because of the open season year round.

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My thoughts...

I think we have some of the best bass fishing in the nation, we may not have size, but we have numbers... I do think it has some to do with our delayed bass season.

Just my opinion.

have I fished for a bass on a bed before.. Yep.. so I may be two faced... but for the most part I am still glad we have a season that allows for some fish to spawn first.

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Hiya -

Funny - I was just thinking over the weekend that this subject would be coming up sometime soon, and here it is.

This might sound a little preachy, because it is... This might also be the first post in history to cite American Fisheries Society journal articles...but this is something I have pretty strong opinions about, and I want to be clear that it isn't just my own opinion.

Quite frankly: Nobody should be fishing for bedding smallmouths.

Because of the biological quirks of SMB spawning, fishing for bedding fish can have a significant effect on their ability to spawn successfully.

Smallmouth have a pretty unique population dynamic when it comes to spawning. Only 1/3 of the population actually spawns during any given year. The spawners are pre-selected the year before, and though the exact mechanism isn't understood, it has been suggested that body condition - overall health - plays a role somehow. When you consider a 50-50 split of males and females, and that only males actively guard the nest and fry until swim-up (swim-up is when fry are self-mobile and the male's parenting duties are done), the entire year class is dependent on 1/6 of the overall population - the ones targeted when fishing for bedding smallmouths. If a bedding male is caught and abandons the nest, they aren't replaced by non-spawning 'freeloaders' in the population.

Both behaviorally and physiologically, bedding fish are extraordinarily vulnerable.

While males are guarding the nest, they are essentially in starvation mode. They don't feed at all. They look as fat and healthy as can be, but their body condition is largely due to osmotic absorption of water. Basically, they're waterlogged.

That poor condition has a significant effect on how they respond to being caught compared to non-nesting fish. A study (on largemouths in this case) that looked at the physiological responses to being caught showed that nesting fish took much longer to recover: "During angling, nonnesting fish fought with a higher intensity, probably expending significantly more energy than did nesting fish. In addition, although the locomotory activity of nonnesting fish appeared to recover as early as 2 h after angling release, the locomotory activity of nesting fish was still impaired 24 h postangling. Overall mean activity for 24 h postrelease was 98% of basal for nonnesting fish, but only 63% for nesting fish. The reduced energetic capability of a nesting male largemouth bass following angling, together with brood predation incurred as a result of the temporary removal of that fish from the nest during angling, increases the likelihood of that male abandoning his brood prematurely." (Cooke SJ, Philipp DP, Schreer JF, McKinley RS (2000) Locomotory Impairment of Nesting Male Largemouth Bass Following Catch-and-Release Angling. North American Journal of Fisheries Management: Vol. 20, No. 4 pp. 968–977 )

Moreover, the more productive the individual nest is, the more aggressive (and thus easier to catch) the male guarding it is. One study determined the following: "The level of aggression shown by nesting males of both species towards the brood predator model was significantly influenced by the quantity of eggs in his nest. This relationship was true regardless of male size, although larger males of both species typically received a greater quantity of eggs during a reproductive attempt. Furthermore, vulnerability to angling correlated positively with the quantity of eggs in a male's nest. Thus, the males that had the largest broods and the greatest potential to contribute to annual recruitment were the most likely to be caught by anglers, indicating that angling for nesting bass during the brood-guarding period has the potential to negatively impact bass populations." (Suski CD, Philipp DP (2004) Factors Affecting the Vulnerability to Angling of Nesting Male Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society: Vol. 133, No. 5 pp. 1100–1106 ) In the same study, which looked at both LMB and SMB, smallmouths were by far more aggressive when guarding nests. "Male largemouth and smallmouth bass were quite vulnerable to angling while guarding their nests, 70% of nesting male smallmouth bass and 54% of nesting male largemouth bass being hooked during the experimental angling trials." (See above citation.)

The end result is, fishing for bedding smallmouth bass has a measurable negative effect on the success of the year class being created. Dr Mark Ridgway is a biologist in Ontario who has been studying smallmouth bass on Lake Opeongo for decades. It's the longest-running research project on a single population (of any species) anywhere in the world. Ridgway studied the effects of angling for nesting SMB on year class success. The research was also duplicated on Lake of the Woods. Ridgway's results: "We found that the abundance of age-0 smallmouth bass decreased as the daily probability of capturing a nesting male increased in both catch-and-keep and catch-and-release policies. Opening dates during the nesting season, when males were guarding broods, also decreased the abundance of age-0 fish. This decrease was dramatic when the opening date occurred early in the parental care period relative to late in the period. Stress resulting from handling time for catch-and-release can have a significant impact on the abundance of age-0 fish because nesting males may abandon guarding behavior." (emphasis mine)(RIDGWAY MS, SHUTER BJ (1997) Predicting the Effects of Angling for Nesting Male Smallmouth Bass on Production of Age-0 Fish with an Individual-Based Model. North American Journal of Fisheries Management: Vol. 17, No. 2 pp. 568–580 )

So it boils down to this:

A.) A small fraction of the overall population is carrying the entire reproductive burden in any given fishery during a given spawning period.

B.) They are already physically stressed, and catch and release angling has significant negative physiological effects on their ability to guard their nest.

C.) Smallmouth bass are particularly aggressive nest guarders, and the larger the individual and/or more productive the nest, (holding a greater percentage of the potential year class) the more vulnerable they are to angling.

D.) Angling for nest-guarding males has a measurable negative effect on year class productivity.

Given that, I can't see fishing for bedding fish as being responsible angler behavior. Anglers should be leaving spawning fish alone out of selfish motivation if nothing else. More successful spawning means more fish later on.

I did happen to catch a bit of the Hank Parker episode where he was fishing for bedding smallies, and it really made me ill. Frankly, any time I see it promoted on TV or in articles, I get pretty hacked off. I've always thought professionals should lead by example, but in this case they're making a pretty poor example to follow. I don't know if they just don't care or aren't aware of the biology involved, but I suspect it's often the latter of the two. Over my career in the fishing business I'm constantly amazed by very, very good fishermen who really don't know much about the fish. I actually know Hank a little bit, and he's a great guy, but he made a poor choice with this episode I think.

My final argument against fishing bedding smallies, though, is a purely practical one. Only 1/3 of the population spawns, and only half of that group is actually guarding a nest. So when fish are on beds, 5/6 of the population - the non-spawning freeloaders, plus the non-guarding spawning females - is somewhere else actively feeding. Go fish for the majority of the population rather than a tiny, very vital fraction of it.

This is probably more than anyone wants to know about this, and if I offend anyone with my attitude about this, well...too bad. The facts simply point to fishing for bedding smallies as being a bad thing to do for the fishery's long term well-being.

Cheers,

Rob Kimm

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Hiya -

Funny - I was just thinking over the weekend that this subject would be coming up sometime soon, and here it is.

This might sound a little preachy, because it is... This might also be the first post in history to cite American Fisheries Society journal articles...but this is something I have pretty strong opinions about, and I want to be clear that it isn't just my own opinion.

Quite frankly: Nobody should be fishing for bedding smallmouths.

Because of the biological quirks of SMB spawning, fishing for bedding fish can have a significant effect on their ability to spawn successfully.

Smallmouth have a pretty unique population dynamic when it comes to spawning. Only 1/3 of the population actually spawns during any given year. The spawners are pre-selected the year before, and though the exact mechanism isn't understood, it has been suggested that body condition - overall health - plays a role somehow. When you consider a 50-50 split of males and females, and that only males actively guard the nest and fry until swim-up (swim-up is when fry are self-mobile and the male's parenting duties are done), the entire year class is dependent on 1/6 of the overall population - the ones targeted when fishing for bedding smallmouths. If a bedding male is caught and abandons the nest, they aren't replaced by non-spawning 'freeloaders' in the population.

Both behaviorally and physiologically, bedding fish are extraordinarily vulnerable.

While males are guarding the nest, they are essentially in starvation mode. They don't feed at all. They look as fat and healthy as can be, but their body condition is largely due to osmotic absorption of water. Basically, they're waterlogged.

That poor condition has a significant effect on how they respond to being caught compared to non-nesting fish. A study (on largemouths in this case) that looked at the physiological responses to being caught showed that nesting fish took much longer to recover: "During angling, nonnesting fish fought with a higher intensity, probably expending significantly more energy than did nesting fish. In addition, although the locomotory activity of nonnesting fish appeared to recover as early as 2 h after angling release, the locomotory activity of nesting fish was still impaired 24 h postangling. Overall mean activity for 24 h postrelease was 98% of basal for nonnesting fish, but only 63% for nesting fish. The reduced energetic capability of a nesting male largemouth bass following angling, together with brood predation incurred as a result of the temporary removal of that fish from the nest during angling, increases the likelihood of that male abandoning his brood prematurely." (Cooke SJ, Philipp DP, Schreer JF, McKinley RS (2000) Locomotory Impairment of Nesting Male Largemouth Bass Following Catch-and-Release Angling. North American Journal of Fisheries Management: Vol. 20, No. 4 pp. 968–977 )

Moreover, the more productive the individual nest is, the more aggressive (and thus easier to catch) the male guarding it is. One study determined the following: "The level of aggression shown by nesting males of both species towards the brood predator model was significantly influenced by the quantity of eggs in his nest. This relationship was true regardless of male size, although larger males of both species typically received a greater quantity of eggs during a reproductive attempt. Furthermore, vulnerability to angling correlated positively with the quantity of eggs in a male's nest. Thus, the males that had the largest broods and the greatest potential to contribute to annual recruitment were the most likely to be caught by anglers, indicating that angling for nesting bass during the brood-guarding period has the potential to negatively impact bass populations." (Suski CD, Philipp DP (2004) Factors Affecting the Vulnerability to Angling of Nesting Male Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society: Vol. 133, No. 5 pp. 1100–1106 ) In the same study, which looked at both LMB and SMB, smallmouths were by far more aggressive when guarding nests. "Male largemouth and smallmouth bass were quite vulnerable to angling while guarding their nests, 70% of nesting male smallmouth bass and 54% of nesting male largemouth bass being hooked during the experimental angling trials." (See above citation.)

The end result is, fishing for bedding smallmouth bass has a measurable negative effect on the success of the year class being created. Dr Mark Ridgway is a biologist in Ontario who has been studying smallmouth bass on Lake Opeongo for decades. It's the longest-running research project on a single population (of any species) anywhere in the world. Ridgway studied the effects of angling for nesting SMB on year class success. The research was also duplicated on Lake of the Woods. Ridgway's results: "We found that the abundance of age-0 smallmouth bass decreased as the daily probability of capturing a nesting male increased in both catch-and-keep and catch-and-release policies. Opening dates during the nesting season, when males were guarding broods, also decreased the abundance of age-0 fish. This decrease was dramatic when the opening date occurred early in the parental care period relative to late in the period. Stress resulting from handling time for catch-and-release can have a significant impact on the abundance of age-0 fish because nesting males may abandon guarding behavior." (emphasis mine)(RIDGWAY MS, SHUTER BJ (1997) Predicting the Effects of Angling for Nesting Male Smallmouth Bass on Production of Age-0 Fish with an Individual-Based Model. North American Journal of Fisheries Management: Vol. 17, No. 2 pp. 568–580 )

So it boils down to this:

A.) A small fraction of the overall population is carrying the entire reproductive burden in any given fishery during a given spawning period.

B.) They are already physically stressed, and catch and release angling has significant negative physiological effects on their ability to guard their nest.

C.) Smallmouth bass are particularly aggressive nest guarders, and the larger the individual and/or more productive the nest, (holding a greater percentage of the potential year class) the more vulnerable they are to angling.

D.) Angling for nest-guarding males has a measurable negative effect on year class productivity.

Given that, I can't see fishing for bedding fish as being responsible angler behavior. Anglers should be leaving spawning fish alone out of selfish motivation if nothing else. More successful spawning means more fish later on.

I did happen to catch a bit of the Hank Parker episode where he was fishing for bedding smallies, and it really made me ill. Frankly, any time I see it promoted on TV or in articles, I get pretty hacked off. I've always thought professionals should lead by example, but in this case they're making a pretty poor example to follow. I don't know if they just don't care or aren't aware of the biology involved, but I suspect it's often the latter of the two. Over my career in the fishing business I'm constantly amazed by very, very good fishermen who really don't know much about the fish. I actually know Hank a little bit, and he's a great guy, but he made a poor choice with this episode I think.

My final argument against fishing bedding smallies, though, is a purely practical one. Only 1/3 of the population spawns, and only half of that group is actually guarding a nest. So when fish are on beds, 5/6 of the population - the non-spawning freeloaders, plus the non-guarding spawning females - is somewhere else actively feeding. Go fish for the majority of the population rather than a tiny, very vital fraction of it.

This is probably more than anyone wants to know about this, and if I offend anyone with my attitude about this, well...too bad. The facts simply point to fishing for bedding smallies as being a bad thing to do for the fishery's long term well-being.

Cheers,

Rob Kimm

RK- thanks dude! that was really informative!

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I fish bass on beds all the time. By far Smallies are a lot more active and protective of their nests. I have not seen a bass that I have caught that does not go right back to the bed. And typically, what you catch off the bed is the male (unless you hit it just right). There is a lot of bass in other states that do not have a closed season for bass. Ideally I think we should have catch and release from now until Memorial Day. Make our season as late as you want, but some of our best bass lakes in the state do not start the spawn until well into June.

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I've always thought the process of yanking bass off the beds was similar to taking water shots at ducks or ground swatting pheasants. Where's the challenge in that? Honestly, bass are some of the easiest fish to catch in the first place. Also, you're taking advantage of a parenting factor and not a feeding factor. So I don't need to stroke my own ego anymore by fishing them off the beds. I gave that up many, many years ago. But I guess if a person is young and inexperienced or they suffer from a lack of skill, knock yourselves out. I'll pass and leave the beds alone for those folks.

And before anybody gets on here telling me how tough it is to get a bass on the bed to bite, I'm here to tell you that some other bed yankers got there before you and sore-lipped them tuckered out bass too much already. So much so that they are ignoring those inbred instincts to protect the nest anymore. This makes it easier for other fish to theft the nest.

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I was going to say something about that Rob but you wrote it a lot better. The better fish to be caught are not the ones on the bed. The bedding fish are just easy to find.

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Duffman, This was taken from bassmaster web page under Byron Velvicks blog. Velvick obvously is a pretty good bed fisherman, seeing as he's a pro fisherman.

"Bed fishing isn't that predictable. You can do it for years and it's still a mystery. There's always something new. Every lake's different; every fish is different.

From time to time you'll hear guys say — usually in bass clubs or on docks — that if they can see a fish they can catch it. All I have to say to say about that is they're either so inexperienced they don't know they're inexperienced, or they're just telling stories they know aren't true. No one can catch every bedding bass he sees. I don't care who they are, or where they're fishing".

So Duffman can you teach me how to catch them?

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RK you put me in a big box, nice article it was very informative I really learned something form it. I don't fish smallmouth we just don't have many of them down here. From what I have read and understand aren’t they already more susceptible to fishing pressure than largemouth because they tend to be in larger schools, be less nomadic, and stick to certain pieces structure for longer periods of time compared to largemouths.

The one thing I don't understand about the DNR is how they go way out of their way to protect the fishing resources by allowing each species to breed relatively free of pressure but they do the complete opposite when it comes to the deer season. Some people will say there is an overpopulation of deer but that isn't the case across the whole state.

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i'll agree with duffman - i haven't seen the bedding bass that i wasn't able to catch, before I read the literature on spawning and nest-guarding behavior. Its pretty much like shooting fish in a barrel

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Duffman, This was taken from bassmaster web page under Byron Velvicks blog. Velvick obvously is a pretty good bed fisherman, seeing as he's a pro fisherman.

Do you think somebody who makes a living by catching the most and biggest bass might be a little biased in their viewpoints? wink

I'm guessing he comes from part of the country where bed yanking is a normal practice, and if it's a popular way to fish down there, I'm also guessing more fish are changing their instinctive behavior to keep from being repeatedly yanked. Therefore becoming tougher to catch.

Like I said before, have at it people, but at least wait till opener. Some say it does no harm, maybe, maybe not, but I do know it's not a good thing for dem bass.

And let's not compare fishing bedding bass to bedding bluegill, that will not help out those in favor of this type of bass fishing. We've all seen or participated in taking advatage of a bluegill moonscape, a lot of nice males for the pan, only to be replaced by stunted sunnies in the future. Look ahead folks, it's not always all about the here and now.

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RK, informative piece of information obviously you love smallmouth bass, I think your addicted to them I know I am! I'm not saying that I don't agree with you by any means I just want to add some additional info. I respect your opinion that you have about these bronzies.

I'm certain that it's a small percentage of the fish population that spawn in a given year...Leaving the majority of the population not spawning . I think that small perccentage that does spawn in a give year is still huge numbers of spawning fish.

Many many smallmouth spawn deeper than what our eyes allow us to see even with perfect conditions clear water no wind and so forth your not going to see deep spawners that will go undetected in 8 to 20 feet of water.

I would not be a bit suprised if some of these fish spawn deeper than that in our natural lakes in Minnesota. The other half of the water colum that fish spwan in there is still a large number of fish that are not even going to see a bait thrown at them. Wind, rain, & water clarity & many hours of searching all come into play.

I have logged many hours of research bed fishing isn't not easy task like some have stated it to be. Some fish are really easy to catch probably the reasons documented in the study, there is also the flip side of that coin.

I respect all of your information posted just stating facts that I have researched as well. I didn't post this for throwing a match into gasoline but these are all factors that come into play. Mother nature has way to many factors for finding diamonds in the ruffle. Wind, rain, water clarity, and countless hours on the water.

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Hiya Smallie -

Yeah - addiction is the right word I think smile

Man you did bring up a really fascinating thing about smallies - how deep they'll spawn. They're kind of funny because they want to spawn next to something, but still need the right kind of substrate to build a nest, so they'll make a bed next to a rock on the edge of a reef where it transitions to sand, and it might be in 12 feet of water. I know from talking to some of the biologists on Mille Lacs that they see smallies spawning in 15 feet there. Blew my mind when I first heard about it. From talking to Gord Pyzer the same thing happens even on darker water lakes like Rainy or LoTWs. On LoTWS a lot of the fish spawn in what will appear to be a mud-bottomed bay, but if you sweep away the thin layer of detritus it's sugar sand underneath. They'll find a rock or log or whatever in the middle of the bay in 7-8 feet and have at it.

One of the other things Dr. Ridgway has learned on Opeongo is that the same fish will spawn in the EXACT same spot, and that fish will return and try to spawn on the EXACT same spot where they were hatched. (They've done genetic studies showing this pretty clearly from the DNA). Not anything to do with fishing bedding fish, but sure points out how important habitat is...plus it's just kind of mind-boggling.

There's no doubt that fishing for bedding fish is going to continue to be a controversial subject. People can make up their own minds on it. All I hope to do is share some info and offer my (admittedly strong) opinion. I realize though that others may differ smile

Cheers,

Rob Kimm

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