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Black Bass Study

Black bass are an important Hudson River resident sportfish that are very popular with recreational anglers and have been the focus of national fishing tournaments since the mid 1980's. In the spring of 1999, a three year study began to assess the current status of this fishery and to build upon previous studies done over the previous 15 years.

Objectives:

Image of a Black BassThe objectives of this study were to estimate the population size of smallmouth and largemouth bass in the river; locate wintering areas for smallmouth bass; locate smallmouth bass spawning areas and determine their importance to the fishery; and determine the effects of catch/move/release of black bass tournament fishing.

Methods:

The contractor, Lawler, Matusky & Skelly Engineers (LMS), sampled fish in late winter using electroshocking and tagged both largemouth and smallmouth bass that were 11 inches or larger. They used metal jaw tags to uniquely mark each fish. During the summer and fall, they monitored tournaments to measure fish caught, look for tags, and tag additional fish. In addition, LMS radio-tagged 60 smallmouth bass to determine where the fish overwintered. Most of these fish were successfully tracked by land, water, and air from fall of 1999 through the next year. Using this data they determined overwintering areas and the movement of the fish in the fall and spring. The final field season ended in November 2001.

Accomplishments:

Picture of how Back Bass are MeasuredA total of 8,150 black bass (6,650 largemouth, 1,500 smallmouth) were tagged in the Hudson River and tidal tributaries in 1999, 2000, and 2001. These efforts yielded the following notable accomplishments to date.

  • Estimated the number of black bass greater than 11 inches in the Hudson River Estuary in 2000 and 2001. This was accomplished by monitoring bass fishing tournaments for returned tags.
  • Estimated the number of black bass greater than 11 inches residing in five known wintering areas in late winter 1999, 2000 and 2001. This was accomplished by repeated mark and recapture electrofishing surveys in March and early April.
  • Located previously unknown smallmouth bass wintering areas using electrofishing, and by radio-tracking individual smallmouth bass.
  • Located previously unconfirmed spawning areas used by Hudson River smallmouth bass via radio-tracking individual fish.
  • Identified specific habitat characteristics of the wintering areas used by smallmouth and largemouth bass.

Tournament Monitoring:

A voluntary tournament reporting program to monitor results of Hudson River black bass fishing tournaments was initiated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) in 1986 (Festa 1987). This program solicits black bass tournament data (e.g., angler weigh- in, no. of anglers, species composition etc.) from black bass tournaments held on the tidal freshwater portion of the Hudson River. Periodic on-site monitoring since 1986 and a series of special studies during 1989-1991 (Green et al. 1993) and 1999-2001 (LMS 2004) has allowed NYSDEC to obtain additional information not easily obtained through voluntary reporting (e.g., scale samples, tag and fin clip information and individual fish weights). The objective of the Tournament Monitoring Studies were to continue the voluntary tournament reporting program initiated in 1984 and provide periodic on-site monitoring to obtain individual fish length, weight and age (scale samples) data not easily obtained through voluntary reporting.

Reports:

2002-2003 Hudson River Estuary Black Bass Tournament Monitoring Study (119 KB pdf file) and 2004 Hudson River Estuary Black Bass Tournament Monitoring Study (879 KB pdf file) are available on the menu to the right.

If you have questions about this project or would like to request a copy of the report, please email the Hudson River Fisheries (link is in the column to the right).

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