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5 Yr Research SHOWS Exactly Where TOURNAMENT BASS Go After Being Released (I Shouldn’t Share This)

Have you ever wondered where do tournament bass go after they’ve been released? Do they make it back to where they were originally caught or do they stay around the release site?

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One of the most interesting studies that I found was conducted back in 2011 and 2012. Researchers took bass caught from Lake Champlain during nine different tournaments throughout the 2 year study.

There was a total of 2,301 fish were tagged using T-Bar Tags, including 1,160 Largemouth bass and 1,141 Smallmouth bass. In addition to the 2300 bass that were tagged with T-Bar Tags, another 91 bass had radio transmitters implanted into them (Radio Tags), this included 53 Smallmouth and 38 Largemouth.

Researches tracked the radio tagged bass and anglers who recaptured the T-Bar Tagged bass were asked to contact the researchers to track the information.

Of the tournament bass that were tagged, 264 bass were recaptued and reported. Of these 264 fish, 185 Largemouth were recaptured and 79 Smallmouth were recaptured. The information that was taken from these 264 fish is extremely interesting.

Out of all the tournament bass that were released and recaptured only one Smallmouth actually made it back to its original capture area, which was in the Inland Sea, in which it was recaptured 4 months later.

It was found that the majority of the bass actually stayed in Cumberland Bay for up to two months before they started to disperse. By the end of the 2 year study 56% of the radio tagged smallmouth bass and 44% of the radio tagged largemouth bass eventually left the bay and swam to other parts of the lake. The t-bar tagged bass dispersal was very similar.

This means that 56% of the Largemouth that were caught in tournaments over the course of those two years actually stayed in Cumberland Bay. The interesting thing about this is Anglers told researchers that the majority of the Largemouth bass (70%) that were caught in these tournaments came from two main areas of the lake. Ticonderoga on the South End of the Lake, and Miquoy Bay on the north end of the lake. However of the recaptured Largemouth none of them had returned to those areas.

Looking at the smallmouth, the majority of them stayed in the bay for 2 months before they dispersed from the bay. Although the majority ended up leaving there were still a large percentage 44% that stayed in the bay throughout the study.

One of the most interesting things was discovered in this study is that bass did not cross deep water as they dispersed from the bay. Deep water is known as a pelagic Zone and in this experiment, deep water was considered 65ft deep. Instead the bass hugged the shoreline as they started moving out of the Bay.

Similar results were found in a study done by Gilliland in 1999 that showed 84% of tournament-released bass traveled along continuous shoreline and only 16% crossed deep, open water.

Researchers suggested that bass used different landmarks to get from place to place. There were a few smallmouth that made it back to the Vermont side of the lake but this was after they had traveled along the New York side to the northern part of the lake and then crossed into Vermont Waters. All fish crossed to the Vermont water and less than 65 ft of water.

Lake Shasta in California the department of fish and wildlife tagged 580 tournament caught bass. Of the bass that were tagged there was 497 Smallmouth and 83 Largemouth.

Of the 83 Largemouth that were tagged, 34 were recaptured by Anglers over the three-year study. Of the 34 that were caught 13 of them were caught less than 1 mile away from their release point. The other 21 we’re captured between 1 and 7 miles from the release site.

Looking at the analytics the Department of Fish and Wildlife concluded that during the first 40 days after being released, the average distance traveled by the Largemouth was less than a mile, and the average for the entire three-year study period was less than two miles.

However, smallmouth dispersed quicker and farther than Largemouth. 87% of the released bass were caught from 2-15 miles from the release site. Within the first 20 days after being released, the majority of the smallmouth bass traveled at least 3 miles and a few traveled as much as 8 miles.

The conclusion of the biologists was that largemouth bass travel short distances after being released. They established new territory and continued on with their lives. However, smallmouth bass often travel back to where they were caught. Why smallmouths have this homing ability and largemouths do not, no one knows for sure.


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  1. I think it is important to remember that a smaller percentage of bass actually get caught than we think in bass tournaments, which I mention in a study at the end of this video. I don't think bass tournaments are bad for a fishery, most lakes around the country seem to be producing bigger fish year after year despite continued angling pressure. However, it is important that we take care of the fish that are in our livewells

  2. other studies have shown the opposite of this – I've always said its complicated and depends on the body of water and the individual fish – I think animals have a "personality" factor that these theories pretend doesn't exist, and therefore render their results inconclusive, at best.

    The Pond Boss references a study where fish where electro-fished, tagged, then release 1-mile away from the capture point – within 2 days almost all fish had returned to their original habitat

    These two studies seem to contradict, unless we stop pretending all bass are the same (this goes for everything alive too – we do the same thing to kids in school when we force them all into the same little box that adults think they should fit into – this same ignorance is problematic throughout every aspect of our lives – humans generally feel they need to define and label things… put every thing into its' neat little box, but the real-world doesn't work that way… Wild animals, and humans, are chaotic.. Nature is chaotic.. there's always that unpredictability no matter how many studies we conduct….). [btw, I hate to be "that guy", but look at the state of the world – we need a few of us around right now]

    The study of any living creature is far too complex to draw any conclusions of any solidity. We could conduct a new study tomorrow that invalidates everything we thought to be true today. Our rational understanding of the world around us is fluid – "science" is a tool that helps us attempt to make sense of what we see.. It is not a commandment finder – it's a method to test things and hopefully limit external biases.

    People with very little understanding of science making videos like this for content frustrate me.. This video reminds me of a less-extreme form of Ancient Aliens-type logic.

    I like you BFHQ – but this video only benefits your channel; it does nothing beyond further confuse the subject for the average bass angler.

    Edit: something just dawned on me – perhaps you DO understand the inconclusive nature of this study and purposefully chose to word things in a way that were more drama-inspiring to draw more eyes and ears onto the video and run up engagement? Nearly 1/2 million views on it, I'd say you succeeded and this makes me question your ethics (not accusing you, but I am skeptical of my initial evaluation of your moral character – only time will tell.. My gut says you're honest, but also influenced by the size of your channel and how that benefits your family (which I can't blame you for, I'd do the same.)

  3. Interesting watch. You say anglers only move 5% of the total bass population in a lake, but aren’t they only moving big bass? Pretty sure the estimates for the amount of bass in the lake would account for fry as well. Makes me wonder how much of the bass population is large enough for anglers to want to take and compare it to that 5% number.

  4. these bass tounaments need to change the way they return the bass into the water.. they need to release them localy from where they where taken to reduce the impact of the population.

  5. I'll tell you where Bass go when tournament fishing start.
    I fish lake Champlain and have been for 30 years including all lakes in New England.
    When a tournament starts on lake Champlain and any other large lake and these tournaments fisherman Weed out the small fish and keep all the 2 lbs and up Fish and transport them anywhere from 10- 40 miles away to their way in that's where the fish go. they don't come back. So stop your nonsense trying to justify your non-catch and release tournaments. The fishing was awesome,Prior to tournaments getting out of control by the numbers of them in these Lakes every summer.
    There is not one non-tournament fishing person I have interviewed in the past 15 years agrees that non- catch and release tournament fishing does not affect the fishing.

    It kills me that my taxpayer dollars for my natural resources or less important, then these fishing tournaments. And the legislators thinking of nothing but the dollar.
    I would not have a problem with fishing tournaments if it was mandatory to be catch and release.
    With the technology today of wireless phones you can send a photograph to the weigh in.

    I've been to hundreds of weigh ins and counted hundreds of dead large bass, and have the photographs to prove it.

  6. They go to die at the release sight as seen at this lake we visited. It was horrible. The fish and game said they were from bass tournament catches. Probably saw 20 three to four pounders

  7. Can't say how many times I have pulled up to docks after a tournament to find loads of dead fish being dumped back in. Yes the fisherman who are not fishing tournaments are fishing to eat. At least the fish are not being beat up and thrown back dead. Living in the south near some great Alabama and Florida fisheries I watch the race track fishing weakly. Truly makes it unpleasant to try and enjoy a day on the water when everyone blast by you at 80 mph only a few feet away. Not to mention how many times I have watch full grown men yelling at each other from there boats because someone isn't giving the other enough space. Yet there is a local sitting in the same spot with his children watching and listening to the buffoons.

  8. It's the food they eat they eat to different food smallies like gravel areas cuz crawfish are a main food for them that's why their bronze rockets. Large mouth eat everything nomatter what so all the pro's help them large mouths eat better and it's a free ride lol trudahh

  9. 88% disappeared. I know a tournament fisherman who says most of them die. He sees many of them dead in the following days. Why are these people not studying mortality???

  10. I have to disagree before they started tournaments on Big Lake where I live you could easily catch 20 bass a day with many 3 pounders and it wasn't hard to catch a five pounder almost every year after they decided to start doing tournaments you were lucky to catch 8 a day and most weight 1 1/2- 2 pounds its never really came back l feel its just to hard on the fish and many of them die off

  11. We could have saved all of this money for expensive studies if they would just take a picture of each fish on a measure board and then release it where they caught it ,,that’s not asking much and it wouldn’t matter how many weights they put in each fish because that won’t change their length.

  12. Hey brother. those bass hats you can buy. Is there anyway you can have one made in a high vis color like a bright green almost yellow? I'd love to buy one but I can't wear any other color at work

  13. The tourneys here on the Mississippi river in WI. have a 3 pool area they can fish . One pool up and one pool down . Fish taken from a pool above the locks and dams have almost no chance to go back to the pool they were caught once being taken to a lower pool !

  14. Another excellent video. You just continue to keep putting them out. I often wonder when they are estimating the number of fish in a body of water how they can be so accurate. As we know 80% of the fish are usually in 20% of the water

  15. All of the lakes in Texas are Fished out. Texas Parks and Wildlife, HAS NOT RESTOCKED THEM. But only pocking YOUR MONEY! Reason i said this IS A FACT! My go to lakes are fished out! You will never seen the tanker trucks of fish any more > NOR see them restocked the lake any more out on the water

  16. I have caught more bass in shadow water than deep. On the top water with top water plugs, rather than fishing deep. They 👀 look for things hitting the top of the water. Some time they go back. After a while it becomes a guessing game! So that how i rate it! > A GUESSING GAME

  17. Catch weight and release is the only way to do it if you are going to have a tournament especially during the spawn. If not you are leaving the nest and fri unprotected

  18. Don't complain how someone else is running a tournament.
    If you want to have tournaments
    using only trolling motor DO IT.
    If you want to have tournaments
    using flat bottoms an maximum of 25 hp motors. DO IT.
    Set it up. Print some flyers. Make sure people know the rules afore they come. Have at it.
    2 dollar entry fee. Big fish wins it all. Then winner gets bragging rights but has to buy each fisherman a RC Cola an Moonpie.
    Fun in the sun with friends and no money to be made for cheaters.

  19. After a year this video has a lot of hate for electronic depth finders.
    If you couldn't see the fish and your bait below the boat in 1975
    With a Hummingbird super 60
    It was because you didn't know how to set it. Same thing now.
    As always 5% of fisherman catch 95% of the fish.
    Learn THE fish. Knowledge is the key. The people winning tournaments aren't killing the fish.
    Learn to care for them. They could keep an cook all they catch.
    9 of 10 people in tournaments ain't got a chance of ever getting
    5% of their money back. Fisherman spending money is what pays for the upkeep of the lake facilities.
    People hating depth finders and pushing for photos on water is let their government track their every move, hear every word spoken, their picture took at every traffic light and every 30 feet in town.
    Every thing in front an behind of
    your car is on camera for government 24/7. Technology is being used to make slaves or kill 95%
    Of world population. Get your priorities in order. Eat some fish.
    99% of money is spent on equipment an <1% on Knowledge.

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