largemouth-bass-negativesmallmouth-bass-negativeWhat a bass white paper can be – New York’s Bass Season Paper!

Intro & Commentary By Dan Kimmel

With link to full document below

Inroduction: On this page you will find a my commentary about and a summary of the paper: Early Opening of Black Bass Fishing Seasons in New York State: A Review of Issues and Available Data written by James R. Jackson and Thomas E. Brooking, researchers with the Cornell Biological Field Station.  The complete pdf document is linked below. You need Adobe Reader installed on your computer to open it. A link to install Adobe Reader is also below. The complete document is 27 pages long, but only ~260KB so not too long a download.

Commentary by Dan Kimmel

James R. Jackson and Thomas E. Brooking are freshwater fisheries researchers at the Cornell University Biological Field Station. Lots of great research comes out of that institute. With the State of New York looking at an extended catch-and-release season similar to our situation in Michigan, these two scientists wrote a very informative, thorough and scientific paper summarizing the issue of spring bass fishing in New York.

This is a fantastic paper written without the obvious bias and spotlighting of bass tournaments and bass tournament anglers as occurred in our own disappointing MDNR bass season ‘white paper.’ This New York paper is written based on facts, known science, accepted practices from a variety of sources (they even refer to our own ‘invalid’ catch-and-release study – as several states have – guess they aren’t going along with the ‘invalid label placed by our present MDNR) and even using their own fresh study and data to help clarify the issue. I’m very impressed with this entire paper, practically a complete opposite of my feelings on the MDNR ‘white paper’ and its use of an overblown and negatively slanted picture of bass tournaments along with misleading the public by ignoring good data that is available, but doesn’t meet their needs, or by claiming results they don’t like to be invalid. (It’s one thing to say the study could have been more thorough or in-depth; It’s another thing to say our study is completely invalid. It’s not.)

The New York paper reaches more realistic, honest and accurate conclusions instead of trying to mislead the public as the MDNR did by trying to paint a picture of much more doubt and uncertainty than exists in most of the rest of the fisheries world. Jackson and Brooking report the facts as they are and leave the decision up to the anglers on how they feel about the facts and want to apply the facts.

The MDNR decided for the anglers before they asked Michigan anglers that we would be too afraid to allow more bass fishing and therefore decided for us again before asking us that we would want to be overly conservative. Then the MDNR fisheries personnel involved in our bass season issue structured only the data needed to support their conclusion for us in a manner that seemed to back up their conclusion for us (that is why the MDNR had to resort to using some information from commercial fishing studies – they couldn’t find any data from applicable sportfishing studies that worked for them).

That is not how you ask end-users (us) what they want. That is how you tell the end-users what they want. I don’t know about you, but I can think for myself when presented accurate and complete information. This is my big problem with how this process has been handled so far.

I give New York credit for really asking anglers what they want, and for providing an accurate and thorough picture of the situation so their anglers can make an informed decision. The summary conclusions of Early Opening of Black Bass Fishing Seasons in New York State: A Review of Issues and Available Data by James R. Jackson and Thomas E. Brooking, Cornell Biological Field Station follow along with a link to the entire document if you choose to read it. I highly recommend that you do:

New York Black Bass Season White Paper Conclusions

  • Based on published data of water temperatures at which black basses initiate spawning and the duration of the guarding period, the current closed season in New York State likely does not protect guarding male bass from angling pressure in all waters of the state or in all years in others. The current bass season may open in as many as half the waters of the state prior to completion of the male guarding period.
  • No clear geographic pattern in spring water temperatures is evident across the state, so it is unlikely that regional regulations could be developed that would increase the effectiveness of protective regulations.
  • Abundances of black bass populations in the state vary widely, but there is little evidence that differential protection from angling during the spawning season contributes to these differences.
  • Annual year class production of black basses in New York State varies dramatically, but on the same order as observed in states with no closed season. There is no strong evidence that year class production in New York State is less variable as a result of the current protective regulations, nor that variability is higher in waters where the season opens prior to completion of the guarding period.
  • Data concerning potential increased vulnerability of male bass to angling during the guarding period is inconclusive.
  • In Lake Erie, where the best data are available, year class strength of smallmouth bass does not appear to have decreased as a result of increased angling during the spawning season.
  • Noncompliance with closed seasons in other management jurisdictions that utilize closed seasons for black bass suggest that significant levels of preseason angling already takes place.
  • Harvest rates of largemouth bass in the state are low, so periodic large year classes may be adequate to maintain quality fisheries. Regulation changes to reduce creel limits to offset potential impacts of opening spring fishing (as being considered in Michigan – see Bremigan and Towns 2004), would likely not be effective.
  • Harvest rates of smallmouth bass can be up to 30% in some waters of the state. If opening of the current closed season does impact year class strength, smallmouth populations in unproductive waters might be negatively impacted. Reduced creel limits may offer some additional protection, but enforcement of differential regulations for largemouth and smallmouth bass may be problematic.
  • Available data suggest that in most waters of New York State, opening of a spring catch and immediate release season will create additional fishing opportunities without obviously jeopardizing sustainability of bass populations.

Click here to read the entire white paper – Early Opening of Black Bass Fishing Seasons in New York State: A Review of Issues and Available Data by James R. Jackson and Thomas E. Brooking, Cornell Biological Field Station

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