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CONFERENCE SCHEDULE UPDATES & CHANGES: As a result of the prolonged government shutdown, we experienced a number of cancellations and changes to the schedule. Cancellations and changes are listed here (as of January 26, 2019). 

Tuesday, January 29 • 11:20am - 11:40am
(FISHERIES: GREAT LAKES 2) Smallmouth Bass Population Characteristics in Chequamegon Bay, Lake Superior Under a Unique 22-inch Size Limit

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AUTHORS: Dray Carl, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Minimum length limits are the most commonly used regulation for protecting, enhancing, or manipulating black bass recreational fisheries, and most limits are generally set at appropriate lengths to provide harvest opportunities of larger individuals. However, in 1994, growth overfishing and angler outcry led fishery managers from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) to enact a 22-inch (559-mm) minimum size restriction on Smallmouth Bass in Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior. This regulation has essentially created a complete catch-and-release fishery for Smallmouth Bass, as no bass greater than 559 mm have been sampled in the field or observed in creel surveys during the 24-year period. Within Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior, Smallmouth Bass are largely localized to Chequamegon Bay, a 13,750-ha shallow (mean depth 8.5-m) embayment adjacent the Apostle Islands. I used time series data from standardized gillnet samples (3600’, graded mesh) and annual hook-and-line sampling to evaluate trends in population dynamics before and after the regulation change. I also evaluated Smallmouth Bass seasonal movement patterns in Chequamegon Bay using floy tag recapture histories. Immediately following the regulation, Smallmouth Bass size structure and abundance increased dramatically, presumably due to a large decrease in mortality. Overall, annual mortality is now 2.5 times lower than before the regulation change. However, growth remained constant throughout the time series data, suggesting adequate resources to support increased abundance of Smallmouth Bass in Chequamegon Bay. Results from this study provide an example of Smallmouth Bass population dynamic rates from a population suited for a “trophy” minimum length limit, information for adaptive management of Smallmouth Bass in northern climates, and numerous new questions for additional research. Potential community-level effects of increased Smallmouth Bass abundance in combination with an overall warming Lake Superior should be investigated.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 11:20am - 11:40am
CENTER STREET ROOM A

Attendees (12)