Bass anglers are always wondering about what happens to their fish after they get released. Lots of opinions out there, but also lots of studies. One study published just a couple years ago concerned just such habits of tournament caught bass after release. “Dispersal of Tournament-Displaced Largemouth Bass and Spotted Bass in Lake Martin, Alabama” looked at radio-transmittered bass under 3 conditions: control fish implanted and released where captured, tourney caught bass brought to weigh-in and then transmittered and released, and simulated tourney caught bass that were captured in the same area as control fish, but were transported and released (after implanting) from the tourney site. Several studies have been done over the years similar to this, and this one adds more info to the growing wealth of information.
One of the larger concerns among state fishery personnel is the potential stockpiling of bass at release sites, especially on waters where the majority of tournies are headquartered out of a single location throughout the year. Some of the findings from this research include:
- Transported fish (simulated and tourney caught) moved significantly more (frequency and distance) over the first few months after release than control fish.
- Spring tourney fish moved more than fall tourney fish. After 2 weeks, 53% of the spring bass remained within 1 mile of the release site. After 1 month, only 38% were left within 1 mile and by 2 months, only 12% were left. After 3 months, none of the original released bass were within 1 mile of the release site.
- Fall tourney bass didn’t vacate the release area to the degree of spring bass, possibly due to cooling waters and a general pattern of inactivity through winter. After 2 weeks, 75% of fall bass were located within 1 mile of the release site and this figure only dropped to 67% and 57% after 1 and 2 months post tournament release respectively. A full 50% were still within 1 mile after 3 months.
- Over the course of the year nearly 7,000 black bass were estimated to have been released from this single tourney site (Wind Creek S.P.) increasing the concentration (biomass) of bass by an estimated 50-100% at any given time within 1 mile of the ramp.
No guarantees you can always get them to bite, but research continues to suggest that one of the best areas to fish in a lot of reservoirs is within 1 mile either way of a launch ramp release site. This one adds to that theory.