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Catch and Release Mortality of American Shad and Striped Bass

illustration of a striped bassSpring-time catch and release fishing commonly occurs in the striped bass and American shad fisheries in the Hudson River. An unknown portion of the released fish die. These losses are of concern to management agencies because these fish are on their spawning run.

Image of American shadNew York State, as part of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASFMC), cooperatively manages striped bass and American shad through interstate fisheries management plans. The plans requires New York to account for all mortality in the Hudson River spawning stock, including mortality from fish caught and released by recreational anglers. Data on survival of released fish are necessary for management of the recreational fishery to ensure its continued success. In 1999, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), in a cooperative agreement with NYSDEC, initiated this project to examine the mortality of the fish that are released back into the river.

Phase I:

Tank set up in KingstonIn 1999, the USFWS and the NYSDEC conducted a preliminary study (Phase I) on the survival of striped bass caught by anglers using river herring as bait. Fish were caught by volunteer anglers and held in pens anchored in the river for five days. Phase I results indicated approximately 28% of the striped bass and 22% of the American shad died after being released by the anglers.

Details are available in 1999 Phase I - Striped bass and American shad catch and release mortality report (366KB pdf file). The report is located on the menu to the right.

Phase II:

Tank set up in TroyIn the spring of 2001, Phase II began, with some modifications on the earlier study. The two major changes were to increase the number of fish caught and to move the holding tanks on shore. The shore-based holding pens were large flow through tanks and allowed daily checks for dead fish. A fleet of volunteer anglers caught fish on supplied hooks and bait. Fish were transported in an aerated live wells to the tanks. In addition, a comparison, or "control", group was caught by electrofishing and held along with the angled fish. The fish were held for five days and at the end of the five days the live fish were released back into the river.

The spring of 2002, the American shad portion of the study was repeated near the Troy Dam. The same tank set up was used and volunteer anglers were used to help catch the fish for the project.

Reports:

Volunteer fishers passing a fishThe report for both species of Phase II is available: Phase II - Mortality Associated with Catch and Release Mortality Angling of Striped Bass and American Shad in the Hudson River (887 KB pdf file). The report is located on the menu to the right.

If you have any questions about this project please email the Hudson River Fisheries Unit (link is in the column to the right).

Logo of the Hudson River Estuary ProgramThis logo represents the Hudson River Estuary Program. Click for more information about our efforts to protect this important estuary.