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I never thought about this until I read a recent post. What size pan fish do you harvest? I believe most of the gills I keep are 7" and the crappies have to be at least 9" in PA.

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As various pondmeisters and angling veterans indicated, it's about the body of waters (public or private) that you're need to pay attention closely to. Some large lakes we have, heavily populated by predation species as well as baitfish/crawdads/mussels, can produce very large panfishes in the 9 to 12 inches class gills, to 12in+ crappies. We also have smaller (less than 100 acres lakes) that are overpopulated, hardly any predation, and the largest harvested was no more than 5in for gills, and 6in for crappies.

In the instant of the large class gills and crappies, we selectively create a range between 9in and larger (as well as 5in and smaller) to release, and encourage people to hold onto anything between 5 to ~8.75in. Crappies, anything smaller than 9, we harvest, and anything larger, we release. As Tony indicated, we like to hold more onto the females rather than males.

In the problematic water, we encourage anglers to go buck wild to harvest all the females and males gills smaller than 4.5in, or crappies less than 5in. Decrease population will increase their body sizes. Unfortunately for us, we have plenty of ignorant people who will chase after the predation species (stocked by private entities or public agencies), and keep them all for the table fares. The problematic waters remained as problematic children for years to come. I've just came back of visiting a local private waterbody (25 acres) that was established back in 1838, with a massive fish kill, because of the overpopulation and the lack of aeration, due to lack of management. Incredible loss. A few 18in fat LMB, massive channel cats weighing in the 15lbs, and quite a few gills in the 10in class, while most were in the 6in.

Here you go:

"Angling can adversely affect populations of bluegill Lepomis macrochirus, and many state agencies have begun to explore restrictive creel and length limits. The fate of released fish can be influenced by a variety of factors, and the success of regulations could be reduced if the mortality of released bluegills is high. We conducted experiments using bluegills caught by the general angling public in Ridge Lake, Illinois, to quantify bluegill hooking mortality and test for the effects of bait type (live versus artificial), season (spring versus summer), retention time in live wells (1, 3, or 5 h), and retention gears (live wells versus fish baskets). Across all seasons and baits, the mortality of caught-and-released bluegills was low; the initial and short-term mortality for fish immediately released was 4.4%. There were significant differences in hooking mortality with respect to bait type, retention gear, and retention time. Bluegills caught on live bait experienced higher mortality (6.6%) than those caught on artificial baits (0%), and wire fish baskets caused higher mortality (34.0%) than live wells (7.6%). The mortality of bluegills held in live wells was higher for the 3- and 5-h retention times than for the 1-h treatment. The probability of dying from catch and release decreased with increasing fish length. We applied our results to a bluegill population under a restrictive harvest regulation consisting of a 203-mm minimum size limit and a 10-fish daily bag limit. Under these restrictive regulations, fish lost from catch and release represented 27.4% of the total kill (harvest and hooking mortality). While catch-and-release angling can cause some mortality, it does not appear from our study that releasing fish will have a deleterious effect on bluegill populations."


Factors Influencing Short-Term Hooking Mortality of Bluegills and the Implications for Restrictive Harvest Regulations

Available for complete purchase here:

More later, off with the family right now.

thanks for posting Tony!... i couldnt find anything on those statistics. i like the sound of the

"Bluegills caught on live bait experienced higher mortality (6.6%) than those caught on artificial baits (0%)"

i guess swallowed or deeply engulfed hooks would be a consideration when live bait fishing there is always that chance.

opens ones eyes to the wire basket catch and release as well as the live well releases.

Excellent source of info Tony. It will be part of my study collection.

Couple of points that might be gathered from what I posted earlier: The larger the bluegill, the less chance of perishing due to C & R. Fish baskets are bad news if you plan on releasing those bluegills. Livewells aren't perfect either, with a much higher mortality rate coinciding with longer capture intervals.

Still looking up data, pretty large archive to sort through.

Fish baskets are merely to preserve fishes for hauling home, without the intervention of too many fancy gears. But we truly need to research as much as we can in methods to preserve catches for releases. Livewell techs have come a long way, but quite clunky to haul around in small boats, such as kayaks, or even floattubes. But responsible anglers must have due diligence without excuses. With more info, and plenty of livewell designs, I will gladly retrofit my kayaks with all research info to properly revive the precious catches.

Keep us up to date with critical info you've discovered Tony. Looks like my experimental workshop will be spinning up to match the finding.

Talked to a few of the professors at the local universities, and they have similar referenced info. One of the biologists have this article referenced in his study library. The exact one, without having to spend $25 on getting the entire publishing just to access this specific article:

"Factors Influencing Short-Term Hooking Mortality of Bluegills and ...

Hey Slip,

I appreciate the report from Tony. I agree with the live bait mortality rates.

i have guests on my boat that will always prefer live bait over the GULP and i am the onboard expert on hook removal of gut hooked fish. questionable fish we throw in the live well many times they make it if not we fillet on the spot and put in a freezer zip loc on ice.

the nice thing about GULP waxies is the fish rarely end up swallowing even if given the oppurtunity... they will hold on for long periods chewing though. i consider it artificial however in the way it fishes and the fishes responses to it. i sincerely believe after thousands of fish caught my kill ratio is significantly below the 1% (favoring the 0%) mark. i have not witnessed any fish float up

A huge variable is the species involved. Hybrid striped bass are extremely intolerant of warm water, and playing one to exhaustion will almost certainly kill the fish due to heat. Bluegills are very heat tolerant regarding water temps, and mortality due to warm temps is simply not usually an issue.

More info soon.
We have not wipers and stripers here, and in CA, water temp is nothing unusual in the high range. However, plenty of catch and releases in these water bodies, using both fresh and artificial baits. Mortality rate is extremely low, with the quick release using proper CPR methods. We monitor the surface floaters within 10 to 12 hours later, and the 24hrs, 36hrs, and 4ihrs to evaluate repercussion domino effects. Can't say the same for gut hooked fishes. They died within 5hrs window.


This study was designed to investigate the effect that three types of terminal gear and anatomical hooking location have on the mortality rate of bluegill. Worm-baited hooks, artificial flies, single-hook spinning lures, and seines were used to catch bluegill.All groups of fish were placed in aerated holding tanks and observed for 10 days. Results from this research indicate that fish angled with worms had a significantly greater (P<0.001) mortality rate than control group bluegill. However, there was no significant difference between mortalities of the control group and the mortalities of bluegill caught with flies and lures. Worm-hooked bluegill experienced significantly higher mortalities than fish angled with lures (P<0.01) and flies (P<0.05). There was no significant difference in mortalities between fly-hooked and lure-hooked fish.An examination of mortality rates based upon anatomical hooking location reveals that bluegill hooked in the esophagus, gill, tongue, and eye had a mortality rate of 100 percent.Jaw-hooked and lip-hooked bluegill had mortalities of 37.5 percent and 13 percent respectively. Fish hooked in the lip displayed a significantly lower rate of mortality than fish hooked in the esophagus (P<0.001), gill (P-0.001), tongue (P-0.001), and eye (P<0.01). In comparisons among bluegill hooked in the esophagus, gill, tongue, eye, and jaw, no significant level of probability existed.There was a significant difference (P<0.001) between the type of terminal gear and the anatomical hooking location. Worm-baited hooks were generally ingested deeper into the mouth than either artificial flies or beetle spin lures.It can be concluded from this study that worm-baited hooks are the least desirable terminal gear in catch and release programs.Ball State UniversityMuncie, IN 47306

Found here:


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