Factors Associated with Mortality of Walleyes and Saugers Caught in Live-Release Tournaments

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Factors Associated with Mortality of Walleyes and Saugers Caught in Live-Release Tournaments

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We measured the initial mortality (fish judged nonreleasable at weigh-in), prerelease mortality (fish judged nonreleasable 1–2 h after weigh-in [which includes initial mortality]), and postrelease mortality (fish that died during a 5-d retention in net-pens) in 14 live-release tournaments for walleye Sander vitreus conducted in April–October 2006 and April–July 2007 in lakes and rivers in Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Among the 14 events, initial mortality was 0–28%, prerelease mortality was 3–54%, and postrelease mortality was 0–100%; the mortality of reference fish (walleyes 31 cm long that were captured by electrofishing and held in net-pens with tournament-caught walleyes to measure postrelease mortality) was 0–97%. Mortality was generally low in events conducted when water temperatures were below 148C but substantially higher in events when water temperatures were above 188C. The mortality of reference fish suggests that capture by electrofishing and minimal handling when the water temperature exceeds 198C results in high mortality of walleyes that is largely the result of the thermal conditions immediately after capture. Mortality was not related to the size of the tournaments (number of boats), the total number or weight of walleyes weighed in, or the mean number or weight of walleyes weighed in per boat. Mortality was positively related to the depth at which walleyes were caught and the live-well temperature and negatively related to the live-well dissolved oxygen concentration. Surface water temperature was the best predictor of mortality, and models were developed to predict the probability of prerelease and postrelease mortality of 10, 20, and 30% or less of tournament-caught walleyes due to water temperature



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Schramm, Harold, L. Jr.; Vondracek, Bruce; French, William, E.; Gerard, Patrick, D.. (2010). Factors Associated with Mortality of Walleyes and Saugers Caught in Live-Release Tournaments. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/183646.

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