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CaptJohnWI

"Are Fall tournaments killing smallmouths?" on Rainy Lake

8 posts in this topic

This is a topic covered in the current (Oct/Nov 2008) issue of In Fisherman magazine in the article Deep Smallmouths and Barotrauma.

I was shocked to read that a Rainy Lake fall bass tourney resulted in 12.8% fatalities according to an Ontario MNR study. And even worse, 60% of the bass tested showed signs of barotrauma. Who knows how many of those died later?

Barotrauma is caused by taking bass from deep water and then holding them in a live well. They apparently can handle fast pressure changes (they do jump on their own when hooked on the bottom in deep water) as long as they can return to deep water in a short time.

Big bass show more signs of barotrauma than smaller specimens. And of course it is the big ones that are kept for weigh-ins. Releasing bass miles from their wintering grounds must also cause stress. They must either expend much needed energy swimming back to their favorite hump or try to find a new spot to spend the winter. Again that will take its toll.

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This is just my opinion, everyone is entitled to them so go easy on me wink

I think tournament fishing is great for the overall sport of fishing in general and tournaments/contest are what drive the progression of the gear we use. However, I think we have come close to a point (or already there) in which live transport/off-site weigh ins are not needed or not necessary. Then again, I’m sure advertisers/sponsors would disagree smile

Think of all the big time contests (BASS, FLW, etc) the winner is basically known before the weigh in even occurs.

Years past, it just wasn’t logistically possible to conduct a contest without dragging you bag back to the weigh in, and in all honesty we are probably still at that point. But with faster and smarter technology, I really think there will be a time where fish are caught and released on the spot, yet able to count towards your bag.

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Page 9 of the 2004 Ontario- Minnesota Boundary Water Waters Fisheries Atlas speaks of a study that indicated up to 55% long term mortality due to being displaced. This is a publication that is produced by both governments and is based on fact and science .

Keep in mind that the number of bass killed each year is minuscule when compared to the walleye harvest.

Another interesting thing to consider is that bass are an exotic species in Rainy Lake. They where introduced in the 1920s along with crappies. Do we want them to dominate over the walleye ?

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HEY CAP. JOHN,

WELCOME TO RAINY, A VERY COMPLEX FISHERY. YOU FIND THE FISH THERE ONE DAY, BUT THERE GONE THE NEXT. I HAVE FISHED RAINY FOR 28 YEARS & IT ALWAYS BEEN THAT WAY. WE HAVE A VERY DIFFERENT YEAR, FISHING HAS BEEN NOTHING SHORT OF AWESOME., I AGREE, BASS FISHERMAN HAVE HAD A TOUGH YEAR, BUT I CAN TELL YOU THAT THE BASS TOURNEYS HAVE NOT HURT YOUR BASS., I CAN'T SPEAK FOR THE TOURNEYS ON THE CANADIAN SIDE, BUT IN 4 YEARS OF THE FALLS BASS TOURNEY, WE HAVE LOST 2 (TWO) 2 (TWO) SMALLIES., AND BOTH OF THOSE CAME IN DEAD. RICK FROM THE FORT, HAS BEEN IN CHARGE OF OUR FISH CARE. HE PUTS A SOLUTION IN THE TANKS, THAT WHEN MIXED WITH THE PROPER AMOUNT OF OXYGEN & WATER TEMP KEEPS THOSE FISH IN THE SAME SHAPE (OR BETTER) WHEN THEY WERE CAUGHT!!! THE WATER TEMP. IS CHECKED EVERY 15 MINUTES., UNLESS YOU WITNESS THE FISH CARE 1ST HAND, YOU CAN'T UNDERSTAND HOW WELL THOSE FISH ARE CARED FOR. RICK ALSO HANDS OUT HIS SOLUTION TO ANY ANGLER WHO WANTS IT AT THE RULES MEETING. I WOULD BE TOTALLY AGAINST THIS TOURNEY IF WE WERE KILLING SMALLIES, BUT THE CARE THEY GET IS UNBELIEVABLE!!! THE OTHER THING IS, MAYBE IN-FISHERMAN SHOULD COME & TAKE LESSONS FROM RICK., I CAN ASSURE YOU NO STUDY WAS DONE AT THE FALLS TOURNEY!!! WHEN IT COMES TO SMALLIES...RICK RULES!!! I HAVE BEEN TOLD THE FALLS BASS TOURNEY IS THE BEST RUN TOURNEY ANGLERS HAVE EVER FISHED, IT IS ALSO THE LARGEST EVENT RUN IN I FALLS, GENERATING OVER 200,000.00 THRU SPONSORSHIPS, PAYOUTS, EVENTS, ETC. JOHN, YOU MOVED HERE TO RETIRE., BUT ALOT OF US HAVE WORKED VERY HARD TO MAKE THAT TOURNEY, AND RUN IT RIGHT...ESPECIALLY TAKING CARE OF THE RESOURCE. I HAVE BEEN PRESIDENT OF THE RAINY LAKE SPORTFISHING CLUB, A MEMBER OF THE CLUB FOR 25 YEARS, A BOARD MEMBER OF THE BASS TOURNEY., MODERATED THIS SIGHT FOR 7 YEARS, FOR ONE REASON ONLY, I CARE ABOUT RAINY LAKE & WANT TO CONTINUE TO KEEP IT A WORLD CLASS FISHERY THAT IT IS., SO WHAT ARE DOING TO KEEP IT THAT WAY??? SEEMS LIKE YOU MOVED HERE BECAUSE YOU LOVE RAINY!!!

SINCERELY,

FISHMEISTER

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I'm just glad it's a "Bass Tourney" and not a Walleye tourney, on both sides of the border.

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The article also speculates that summer tourneys are not as rough on the bass since those caught in warm weather are most often taken shallower than those caught in October.

The summer I.Falls tourney has half the fish come from the river and I doubt very few of those are caught deeper than 10 feet. Those that come from the lake are liable to come from any depth but most are likely taken shallow.

Most bass can survive being kept in a livewell all day if taken from shallow water.

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Capt'n John:

You have asked a legitimate question here. Do tournaments, held in the FALL, hurt the bass fishery on Rainy Lake? Money, tourism, non-native species, entertainment aside, common sense dictatates that fall tournaments must hurt the bass fishery...probably the entire fishery. I fish Rainy Lake every day, at times we are catching bass in deeper water but we are also catching pike and walleye. Fall tournament anglers are catching them too but in greater numbers. Most anglers already have concerns about catching walleye in deep water and they know it damages fish. My Clients catch and release immediately, tournament anglers don't, they carry the fish around to be released later in some place away from the home area of the bass.

I am not against tournaments, I have fished a few myself but they were summer events, the fish have plenty more time to get back home to feed up for a long winter. Fall events are a different story.

I guess we all have to remember that the smallmouth bass fishing on Rainy Lake became great without bass tournaments. Tournaments haven't helped to make the fishery any better, just more well known and sadly threatened.

Jackfish

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HEY CAP. JOHN,

THE OTHER THING IS, MAYBE IN-FISHERMAN SHOULD COME & TAKE LESSONS FROM RICK., I CAN ASSURE YOU NO STUDY WAS DONE AT THE FALLS TOURNEY!!!

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