Western New York Fishing Magazine

Size matters – Catch Photo and Release Fishing Tournaments

A comparison of weight measurementsand length-weight estimates for fishing tournaments and length-weight estimates for fishing tournaments.

By Ali J. Ahmed and Paul Shipman, Ph.D.

Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York 14623

This article is based upon the results of an undergraduate-level research project performed during Summer 2010. We acquired available Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) and Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) weight and length data from state fish and game agencies in order to run simulated fishing tournaments and compare the results of winners using two methods of measurement. The first method used combined weight of five fish per angler to determine winners of fishing tournaments. The second method used weight estimates from measured lengths to determine the winners.

Catch, photograph, and release methods are becoming increasingly popular among competitive angling, particularly within
the rapidly growing sport of kayak fishing. We found similar tournament outcomes were achieved using both methods of evaluation.


Current catch, weigh, and release (CWR) scoring methods for sport fishing tournaments (particularly bass fishing tournaments) are aimed at conserving and improving sport fisheries compared with catch and kill methods used many years ago. However, numerous studies have shown significant fish mortality are associated with the CWR method that varies with temperature, handling time and conditions, and severity of injuries associated with the initial
catch (White, et al., 2007; Nelson. 1998).

In addition to the continued problem of some mortality, most tournament venues release all fish at a point location (usually near the tournament weigh-in site or boat launch) and studies have shown that fish tend to remain in that area after release and seldom return to their original area of capture which indicates that life cycles of the fish are significantly impacted.

Figure 1. Modern bass fishing tournaments minimize the impacts of handling, but fish are not released at their original sites of capture.

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