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Hooking Mortality of Northern Pike Angled through the Ice

Hooking Mortality of Northern Pike Angled through the Ice

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A study of the effects of ice angling on the mortality of Northern Pike
A study of the effects of ice angling on the mortality of Northern Pike

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North AmericanJournal
of
Fisheries
Management
14:769-775, 1994
>
Copyright
by the
American Fisheries Society
1994
Hooking Mortality
of
Northern Pike Angled through
Ice
ROBERT
B.
DuBois
Wisconsin
Department
of
Natural
Resources
Post
Office
Box
125.
Brule,
Wisconsin 54820,
USA
TERRY
L.
MARGENAU
Wisconsin
Department
of
Natural
Resources
Post
Office
Box
309,
Spooner. Wisconsin 54801.
USA
R.
SCOT
STEWART
Wisconsin
Department
of
Natural
Resources2801
Coho
Street, Suite
101,
Madison. Wisconsin 53713.
USA
PAUL
K.
CUNNINGHAM
Wisconsin
Department
of
Natural
Resources
101
South
Webster
Street.
Post
Office
Box
7921.
Madison. Wisconsin 53707.
USA
PAUL
W.
RASMUSSEN
Wisconsin
Department
of
Natural
Resources
1350
Femrite Drive. Monona. Wisconsin
53716,
USA
Abstract.
—Short-term
(48-h) hooking mortality
was
examined
for
185
northern pike
Esox
lucius
angled through
ice on
baited still lines
from
three Wisconsin lakes. Mortality
from
capture withsize-4 treble hooks baited
with
live
fish
was
negligible
(<
1%); however, mortality associated with
pike
hooks (also known as Swedish hooks) baited with rainbow smelt
Osmerus
mordax
wassubstantial (33%). Additionally, mortality
was
greater
for
deeply hooked
fish,
and for
fish
exposedto short handling times. Pike hooks were associated with a higher percentage of deeply hooked
fish
than were treble hooks,
but
hooking location alone
did not
fully
explain
the
difference
in
mortality
between hook types.
Offish
that bled
at
capture,
84%
survived.
The
length
of
time thatnorthern pike were allowed
to run
with
the
bait plus
the
time associated with hooking
and
landing
the
fish
was unrelated to either mortality or hooking location. The use of pike hooks may not becompatible with management
of
northern pike fisheries
if
minimum
size limits
or
catch-and-release
regulations
are used to attain management objectives.
The
northern pike
Esox lucius
is a
popular
year-
from
lakes larger than
200 ha
(WDNR, unpub-
round
target
of
anglers throughout
the
southern lished
data).
part
of its
North American range. However,
pop-
Low
levels
of
hooking mortality have typicallyulations
in
some lakes have reduced size structures been reported
for
northern pike caught during ice-
because
of
overexploitation
(Kempinger
and
Car-
free
conditions. Burkholder
(1992)
reported
mor-
line
1978; Diana 1983;
Olson
and
Cunningham
tality
ranging
from
0 to
4.8%
for
northern pike
1989).
The
Wisconsin Department
of
Natural
Re-
held
for 5 d
after
capture
with artificial
lures riggedsources (WDNR)
has
proposed
increased mini-
with
a
variety
of
hook types
from
small
experi-
mum
length limits
and
reduced
possession
limits
mental ponds
and a
lake
in
Alaska.
Falk
and
Gill-
to
reduce exploitation
of
northern pike
in
some
man
(1975)
used
artificial
lures with single
and
waters.
The
success
of
these regulations would
de-
treble hooks
to
capture northern pike
and
reported
pend
on
angler compliance
and the
survival
of
relatively
low
mortality
(5.3-10.5%).
Although
it
released
fish;
however, information
on
hooking
was not the
primary focus
of
their study, Weith-
mortality of
northern pike
is
scarce,
and no in- man and
Anderson
(1978)
reported
low
hooking
formation
is
available
for
those caught through ice. mortality
(<2%)
of
yearling
esocids
(combinedIce-angled northern pike constitute
a
large portion assortment
of
northern pike, muskellunge
Esox
of the
annual harvest
of
this species
from
Wis-
masquinongy.
and
their
F\
hybrid) caught
on ar-
consin
lakes—62%
of
the
annual harvest
from
lakes
tificial
spinners. Similarly,
Beukema
(1970) inci-smaller than
200 ha and 36% of the
annual harvest dentally reported low,
but
unspecified, mortality
769
 
770
DuBOIS
ET
AL.
of
northern
pikeangled
with
artificial
spinners
or
live
cyprinids.During winter in
Wisconsin, northern
pike aretypically still-fished
through ice with natural
bait,
and
anglers
often
allow
fish
to runwiththe
bait
for
several
seconds
to
several
minutes before
set-
ting
the
hook.
This
method
of
fishing
might result
in
a
greater percentage
of
deeply hooked
fish
rel-
ativeto
those
hooked more
quickly
on
artificial
baits.
Additionally,
unhooking
northern pike
canbe a
relatively
lengthy
process
that
often
requiresanglers to use jaw
spreaders
and
other tools
to
avoid
being
injured
by the
fish's
teeth.
Thus,
there
is
concern about the
survival
of northern
pike
re-leased
after
being
caught through
ice.
We
evaluated the mortality of
northern pike
caught throughice
with
twohook
types
commonly
used
in
Wisconsin.
Our
objectives
were to
measure
the
short-term
(48-h) mortality
associated
with
eachhooktype
and to
assess
whether hooking
lo-
cation,
handling
time,
fish
size,
or the
amount
oftime
fish
were allowedto
take
the
bait
contributed
to mortality.
Methods
Northern pikehooking
mortality
was
examined
once at each of
three
lakes.
Angling
on
LongLake
(46°35'N, 91°20'W)
occurred
on
15
December
1992
from
0800
to
1530
hours
with
the aid of 28
vol-
unteer
anglers.
Long Lake is a
softwater
seepage
lake with
asurface
area
of
106
ha andmaximum
depth
of 7
m.
Air
temperature varied
from
1 to
4°C, and
wind
speed
wasless
than
5
km/h.
On
Lipsett
Lake
(45°53'N,92°03'W),
angling
occurred
on
30
January
1993
from
0800
to 1600
hours
with
aid
from
39
anglers. Lipsett
Lake is a
161
-ha
drain-
age lake
with a
maximum
depth of 7 m. Air
tem-
perature ranged
from
1 to
3°C,
and
wind
speed
averaged
about
16
km/h.
On Lake
Mendota(43°07'N,
89°25'W),
43
volunteers
fished from
0800
to 1630
hours
on 20
February
1993.
Lake
Mendota
is a
3,983-ha
drainage
lake with
amax-
imum
depth
of 25 m. Air
temperature
varied
from
-6 to
-2°C,
and
wind
speed
averaged
21
km/h.
Volunteer
anglers
included
only
natural
resources
professionals
and
members
of
local
sports
clubs.
Anglers
used
commercially
purchased tip-ups,
lines, and steel
leaders
of their
choice,
but
were
provided
with
two
standardized
hook
and
bait
types
commonly
used
by
Wisconsin
anglers.
We
examined
separately
the
mortality
of
northern
pike
hooked
on
size-4treble hooks baited
with
livewhite
suckers
Catostomus commersoni
orgolden
shiners
Notemigonus
crysoleucas,
11-19
cm long,
and
pike
hooks
(also
known
as
Swedish
hooks;Figure
1)
baited
with
dead
rainbow
smelt
Osmerusmordax,
12-15
cm long. Both
size-4
and
size-10
pike
hooks
were
used
in this study, but
there
is
little
difference
in
size between
them
(Figure
1).
These
were the
mostcommon hooks
bought
by
northern
pike anglers in bait
shops
in our
area.
AnglersonLong Lakeand
Lake
Mendotawere
asked
to
fish
at
least
one
pike
hook.
(Each
angler
is
allowed
to
fish
three lines
in
Wisconsin.)
Data
collection
methods
werethe
same
on all
three
lakes;
flag
time,
handling
time, anatomical
hooking location, occurrence
of bleeding, and
total
length
(TL) were
recorded
for
each
northern pike
captured.
Flag
time
consisted
of the
length
of
time
from
the
strike
(indicated
by a
raised
tip-up
flag)
to the
time
the
fish
was
removed
from
the
water.
Playing
time (hook set to removal
from
the
water)
was not
recorded
separately,
but was
invariablyjust
a few
seconds.
Therefore,
flag
time closely
approximated
the
amount
of
time
fish
were
al-
lowed to run
with
the
bait.
Handlingtime
com-menced
when
a northern pike was
removed
from
the water and
ended
with
its placement
into
a
water-filled
cooler
(45-L
volume or larger), andincluded unhooking
(anglers usedjaw
spreaders
and forceps),
measurement,
and
fin-clipping
or
Floy-tagging. On
Long
and
Lipsett
lakes,
northern
pike
were given
minimal
tip-of-fin
clips
to indicate
the
type
of hook used,
occurrence
ofbleeding,and
one of
four
hooking
locations:
jaws,
roof
or
floor
of the
mouth
and tongue,
gill,
and
gullet
(esoph-agus
and
stomach).
On
Lake
Mendota
northern
pike
were
Floy-tagged because there
were
other
studies
in
progress
involving
fin-clipped
fish.
After
initial
data
collection,
northern
pike
were
transferred
to a central
holding
area
on each
lake
within
10 min of
capture.
On all
three
lakes,
twocylindricalholding
nets (both
1.2 m in
diameter,
one 2.7 m long, the
other
3.7 m
long)
were
sus-
pended side
by
side
in water
about
4.5 m
deep.
The surrounding
areas
were
fenced
with
snow
fencing
for
public
safety.
During
the
48-h
holding
period
each hole
in the ice was
covered
with
2.5-
cm-thick
styrofoam
sheeting,
which
was
then
cov-
ered
with
snowto
minimize refreezing.After
48 h, northern
pikewere
recorded
as
dead,
alive
(active,
easily
able to
orient,
and
showing
no
sign of
serious
injury),
or
crippled
(sluggish, slow
to orient, or
showing
other evidence
of
serious
injury).
All
surviving
fish
were
released.
Logistic
regression models
were
used
to
examine
the
effects
of
lake, hooktype, hooking
location,
 
PIKE
HOOKING
MORTALITY
771
FIGURE
1
.—Illustration
of a
rainbow
smell
as typically
fished
on a
size-10
pike hook
with a
size-4
pike
hook
and
asize-4treble
hook
shownfor
comparison.
All
hooks
are
drawn
to the
same
scale.
fish
length,
flag
time,
and handling
time
on
mor-
tality within 48 h of
capture
and on
bleeding
atthe time of
capture.
Significance
tests
for
logistic
regression
models
were
based
on
likelihood
ratio
chi-square tests
for the
effect
of
dropping
thefactor
from
the
model
(Agresti
1990).
Northern
pike
hooked
in the
gills,
esophagus,
and
stomach
were
classified
as
deeply hooked.
(Those
hooked
in the
gills
could
not be considered as a
separate
category
for
statistical
analysis
because
the
sample size
wastoo
small.)
Northern
pike
hooked
in the
jaws,
roof
of the
mouth,
floor
of the
mouth,
or
snagged
ex-
ternally
were
classified
as
superficially
hooked.
We
also
used logistic
regression models
to investigate
the
relationship
between
hooking
location
and
lake,
hook
type,
fish
length, and
flag
time.
Three-way
analysis
of
variance
(ANOVA)
was
used
to ex-amine the
effects
of lake, hook type, and hooking
location
onhandling time.We did not use
data
from
Lake
Mendota
in the
statistical analyses
be-
cause
of the low
number
of
fish
caught,
lack
of
deaths,
and the
fact
that
no
fish
were caught
on
pike
hooks.
Data
wereanalyzed
with
the SAS
(SAS
Institute
1989)
and
S-Plus
(Statistical
Sciences
1991)
statistical
programs.
Results
Angler Catch
Anglerscaught
185
northern
pike
from
the
three
lakes;
161
were taken
on
treble
hooks
and 24 on
pike
hooks.
On Lake
Mendota,
northern
pike werecaught
only
on
treble
hooks.
Sizes
of
northernpike
caughtonLongLake(meanTL, 457 mm; range,
325-693
mm;
N
= 83) and Lipsett
Lake
(mean
TL, 447 mm;
range,
368-650
mm;
N
= 94)
were
similar,whereas
fish
caught
from
LakeMendota
werelarger(mean
TL, 640 mm;
range,
549-759
mm,
TV
= 8).
Northern
pike
caught
on
pike
hooks
averaged
495 mm TL,
slightly
larger
than
the av-
erage
of 455 mm TL for
treble-hooked
fish.
Catch
rates
were
0.40
and
0.34
fish/angler-hour
onLongandLipsettlakes, respectively(hook
types
com-
bined);acatch
rate
for Lake
Mendota
was notcalculated
because
some
anglers
left
the
lake
un-
announced due to
slow
fishing.
Flag times
aver-
aged
89 s
(range,
10-315
s) on the three
lakes
and
did not
differ
among
lakes
(P
=
0.80,
ANOVA).
Mortality and
Hooking
Injury
OnLong
Lake,
5 of
13
northern
pike
captured
onpike
hooks
died,
compared
with
0 of 70 north-

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