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Outdoors notebook: Big bass more susceptible than thought

| Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, 2:58 p.m.

Trophy largemouth bass get caught at a greater rate than people might expect, outlining the importance of catch-and-release fishing.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists earlier this year tagged 136 trophy largemouth bass weighing more than 8 pounds. The fish were released into 41 public lakes and rivers that varied in size, water quality, habitat, fish populations and amount of angler pressure they receive.

After six months, 21 percent of the fish had been caught and reported at least once. Anglers fishing in tournaments caught about one-fifth of those fish. About one-third were caught by anglers using live shiners as bait.

Eighty-three percent of the bass caught were released alive, though that was not a requirement. Seven bass weighing more than 10 pounds were caught, but just three were released, suggesting that anglers may be more inclined to keep the heaviest of fish.

Most of the anglers who kept a trophy bass said they did so to have it mounted rather than to eat it.

The Fish and Wildlife commission is continuing the study. Over the next five years, the agency will tag additional bass. Anglers who catch fish will be asked to cut off the tag and report the information.

The goal is to determine catch-and-release rates for trophy fish and angler participation.

Wash that dog

Boaters have been asked for years to clean their crafts, down to the trailer, to help stop the spread of invasive species. Anglers have been asked to clean their waders and lures.

Now hunters are being asked to clean their dogs.

The Minnesota-based conservation group Wildlife Forever received a $233,830 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to teach hunters how to prevent aquatic hitchhikers. The campaign will teach hunters to properly clean waders, waterfowl decoys and even hunting dogs to avoid transporting invasive species.

Goal set

The National Wildlife Federation is hoping to get more children outside to play.

The group has set a goal of getting 10 million kids outdoors over the next three years by working with schools to restore recess, getting local parks and recreation departments to foster outdoor free-time programs and giving parents tools to incorporate outdoor time into their children's days.

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