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CONTACT:
Gabe Gries: (603) 352-9669
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
August 7, 2014

Anglers – Please Release Tagged Bass when Fishing the Squam Lakes

CONCORD, N.H. – Anglers fishing the Squam Lakes in New Hampshire are being asked to immediately release any largemouth and smallmouth bass they catch that were radio tagged as part of a New Hampshire Fish and Game Department study. All radio tagged bass will have a thin wire protruding from their underside and a yellow numbered tag near their dorsal fin, as pictured.

Radio-tagged bass The Squam Lakes (Big and Little Squam) are a popular destination for bass tournament and recreational bass anglers, with an average of 22 bass tournaments being held on Big Squam each year. Although Big and Little Squam are connected by a short channel, they are considered to be separate water bodies.

N.H. Fish and Game Department rules do not allow anglers to catch fish in one water body and release them into another water body. Because there is currently no available weigh-in location on Big Squam for larger bass tournaments, these tournaments typically weigh in on Little Squam. By law, bass are then required to be taken back to Big Squam for release. During hot weather conditions, bass survival could be compromised after a weigh-in on Little Squam, due to the extra time and handling it takes to bring these bass back to Big Squam for release. Additionally, boats must travel through the channel a total of four times in a given day in order to release fish back to Big Squam, providing the potential for additional boat congestion.

Therefore, allowing bass tournaments fishing on Big Squam and weighing-in on Little Squam to release bass into Little Squam may, in some cases, increase bass survival and decrease social conflicts. However, the potential exists for negative impacts on bass in Little Squam if bass caught in Big Squam and released into Little Squam do not return to Big Squam on their own accord.

"If most of these bass do not return to Big Squam, it could lead to increased competition for food and habitat, and potentially increased opportunities for bacterial or viral transmissions, such as Largemouth Bass Virus," said Gabe Gries, Warmwater Fisheries Project Leader for the Inland Fisheries Division of N.H. Fish and Game. "Additionally, bass must use energy to find appropriate habitat in their new area and extra usage of energy reserves may increase the probability of over-winter mortality."

Goal of the Study

The goal of this radio tagging study is to determine the percentage of bass returning to Big Squam after being caught in Big Squam and weighed in and released in Little Squam, and how long it takes fish to do so.

Bass caught in Big Squam during bass tournaments in 2014 and weighed-in on Little Squam will be tagged and released into Little Squam. A permanent antenna and receiver in the Squam Channel will record when tagged bass pass by on their way back to Big Squam. Bass will also be manually tracked via boat in Little Squam. It is expected that this study will last up to three years.

It is imperative that anglers immediately release any tagged bass they catch. Please contact Gabe Gries at 603-352-9669 to report the number on the yellow tag and location(s) if a tagged fish is accidentally transported or dies in your possession. Radio tag recovery will be made from any dead fish.

This study is being performed in cooperation with NH B.A.S.S. Nation and the Squam Lakes Association. Grant money obtained by NH B.A.S.S. Nation was used to purchase necessary equipment.

For more information:

Follow updates on this study online at wildnh.com/Fishing/fisheries_management/bass_Squam_Movement.html

For more information on the study and/or to report information on tagged bass, contact:

Gabe Gries, N.H. Fish and Game Region 4,
15 Ash Brook Court, Keene, NH 03431;
Phone 603-352-9669; or email gabe.gries@wildlife.nh.gov.

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