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Short-term mortality of Australian bass, Macquaria novemaculeata, after catch-and-release angling


Karina Hall, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, PO Box J321, Coffs Harbour, NSW 2450, Australia


Abstract  Australian bass, Macquaria novemaculeata Steindachner, is angled in large numbers from coastal impoundments and rivers throughout south-eastern Australia. Many are released in the belief that most survive with few negative short-term impacts. This assumption was investigated in three experiments involving a range of conventional angling scenarios. A total of 313 Australian bass were angled and then released along with appropriate controls into either land-based tanks or floating cages, where they were monitored for up to 5 days. No controls died. Short-term mortalities of angled fish were low (0–6%) and attributed to the effects of bait type, hook location and fish size (< 0.05). Specifically, fish that ingested hooks or were caught with natural baits were more likely to die than those that were mouth-hooked or caught on lures. Mortality negatively correlated with fish size. The results supported previous assertions that Australian bass is a resilient, hardy species that should tolerate short-term impacts associated with catch-and-release angling. However, other sublethal physiological impacts that could contribute towards delayed mortalities or reduced reproductive output warrant further investigation, particularly in relation to native populations in coastal rivers that form gauntlet fisheries during their annual spawning season.