Indiana DNR Monitoring Bass Tournaments

DNR biologists will monitor eight bass fishing tournaments at seven northern Indiana natural lakes this summer to examine the long-term effects of current fishing rules on bass tournaments.

Biologists will be on hand to count and measure bass brought to weigh-ins by tournament participants at Winona Lake in Kosciusko County, Lake George and Hamilton Lake in Steuben County, Pine/Stone Lakes in LaPorte County, and Lake Maxinkuckee in Marshall County. Two tournaments at Lake Wawasee in Kosciusko County will also be monitored.

The DNR conducted a similar survey in 2001, one year after imposition of a 14-inch minimum size limit on bass.

"We can learn a lot about bass populations in Indiana lakes by monitoring tournaments," said Jed Pearson, DNR biologist. "They provide data on bass numbers, bass sizes, and angler catch rates."Ten years ago, the number of participants in monitored tournaments averaged one angler per 57 acres of water. Tournament anglers fished an average of 300 hours per event. At that time, the number of bass brought to weigh-ins ranged from four bass to 192.The average number of bass brought to weigh-ins 10 years ago was 50. Of 762 bass examined by DNR biologists, 95 percent were 14 to 18 inches long and 5 percent were 18 inches or larger.

Despite the high number of bass handled by tournament anglers, only 11 bass were either dead or showed signs of stress and were not released after the weigh-ins.

"It's going to be interesting to see if tournament fishing has changed over the years," Pearson said. "I expect we'll find the same level of fishing effort but we should also see more bass caught. Since the 14-inch limit went into effect, we now have many more bass in our lakes."

According to Pearson, bass tournaments were controversial many years ago. Non-tournament anglers and other lake users complained tournament anglers crowded lakes and harmed bass populations.In response to complaints, tournament organizers improved efforts to coordinate their schedules, improved weigh-in procedures to reduce stress on the fish, and emphasized the importance of good boating and fishing ethics by tournament participants.

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