3 IMPORTANT FACTORS WHEN RELEASING STRIPERS:
With striped bass, temperature, salinity, and size of the fish are the three most important factors affecting survival in catch-and-release attempts. Stress-related mortality increases greatly when water temperatures exceed 70F and is also greater in freshwater than in brackish water.
Larger fish fight longer and are harder to handle. A larger fish also has a greater ratio of body mass to gill surface area and therefore has a more difficult time paying back its “oxygen debt” incurred during a fight. In other words, it can’t efficiently get rid of carbon dioxide generated via muscular exertion and re-oxygenate tissues fast enough. This can result in deadly metabolic changes. The weight of their bodies out of water can cause injury to their vital organs if held improperly. Infection and disease can result in mortality of fish whose protective slime coat is removed during handling.
Ideally, fish are landed quickly, handled little, if at all, and kept in the water while the hook is removed using a de-hooker and barbless hooks.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
HANDLING AND RELEASING STRIPERS
REMOVING THE HOOK
Learn and practice catch-and-release fishing techniques and teach them to your children and friends.
With the increasing popularity of "The Catch and Release Program", you may be forced to make a difficult decision when deciding whether to keep or release that Trophy Fish. You do have the option of taking a photo to prove you had temporary possession of the wall-hanger, which will shore up your credibility when you share your adventure with your friends and neighbors. Another option is Fiberglass Reproduction, which allows you to release the trophy, and keep a mount. A fiberglass fish reproduction is an extremely durable, long lasting alternative to traditional skin mounts. The replica will withstand hot or cold climates and will never deteriorate or shrink. In some cases they are less expensive than a conventional mount.
Lactic Acid Build up in Striped Bass
High muscular activity and stress during fighting causes disturbances in fish tissues and organs. These changes occur in the fishes blood and may be severe enough to alter normal physiology and behavior and ultimately compromise survival. In some cases, fish may die, either on the line or more likely after release. Changes in blood chemistry can be compared to several variables which are associated with the fight such as tackle type, fight time, water temperature, and fish size. Findings show that these fish exhibit fluctuations in blood pH and blood levels of hormones, electrolytes, and metabolites due to the fights associated with rod and reel angling. For example, the metabolic byproduct of anaerobic glycolysis is lactic acid. Rough handling of fish, internal hook damage, and excessive time out of water can cause irreparable damage to a fish that is released. Recovery may take days or months if the fish survives at all, and will require a metabolic cost. Physiological stress can be minimized by reducing fight and handling time. However, physical trauma can only be reduced through conscious efforts of anglers when choosing to release a fish. Hook design, handling methods, and experience all play a major role in proper release of Stripers.
Air Bladder Of The Striped Bass
Striped Bass maintain their relative depth in the water column by adjusting the volume and pressure of gas in their air bladder in order to maintain a neutral buoyancy. To maintain equilibrium at increasing depths where the gas in the air bladder would be compressed, greater gas pressure is required in the air bladder. Conversely, at shallow depths less pressure is required as the gas in the air bladder expands. The air bladder occupies approximately 4 to 6% of the total volume of the fish. Quick vertical movements without adjustment to the rates of secretion of gas into, or re-absorption of gas from, the air bladder. However the magnitude of these movements may be related to the depth of the fish. The rapid removal from deep water at a rate far in excess of the rate that the fish can actively remove gas from the air bladder. Often the result is an excessively inflated air bladder that may distend the abdomen, or force the air bladder and gut lining to protrude out of the mouth. The probability of survival for a fish released with a distended air bladder is not high. The fish may reabsorb the excess gas in time.
The below information is provided by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation about releasing air from the air bladder.
Striped bass like most fishes, adjust their buoyancy so they can maintain their vertical position in the water without actively swimming. Stripers adjust their buoyancy by the gas bladder. The gas bladder in fish operates like a buoyancy compensating device used by a SCUBA diver. As depth increases and the gas compresses (occupies less volume). To maintain neutral buoyancy, the fish adds gas to the gas bladder. When the fish ascends, pressure decreases, the volume of gas in the bladder expands, and buoyancy increases. Stripers can remove gas from the bladder with the gas gland, but this a relatively slow process. Therefore, a striper quickly displaced from deepwater to shallow water is helplessly buoyant and suffers “the bends". Behavioral symptoms of stripers with buoyancy problems include fish that remain at the surface after release and fish that lie on their side or assume a “head-down" posture.