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Freshwater Science: Spatial Ecology of Smallmouth Bass in Lake Erie | Ohio Sea Grant

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Freshwater Science: Spatial Ecology of Smallmouth Bass in Lake Erie

November 21, 2024 – New research from Ohio Sea Grant, Stone Lab and the Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative

Smallmouth bass are one of the top fish in Lake Erie’s fishery, contributing to the lake’s $1 billion fishing industry. Yet until recently, scientists were unaware of how much the fish move around in the lake — insights that could help ensure the fishery is sustainable. The fish species were once concerned to be a low-movement species, but a portion of the population is likely making long-distance movements based on a pilot study. Bass vulnerable to fishing are known to have higher aggression and metabolism, and if these fish are also traversing long distances, angling may be impacting the connectivity of bass populations.

Zak Slagle of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife is using acoustic telemetry to study how much smallmouth bass move, when they move, what habitats they prefer, and if angler-caught fish have higher movement rates than “unselected” fish. The team tagged 210 bass across Lake Erie in 2023 and 2024 using both electrofishing and angling during spawning season and will track these fish through 2027.

About the Speaker

Zak Slagle Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife

Zak Slagle is a fisheries biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife stationed at the Sandusky Fisheries Research Station. He received his Master’s Degree from the University of Florida in 2014 for research on Florida largemouth bass spawning success. Zak now leads the Division of Wildlife’s trawl and smallmouth bass surveys in the western basin of Lake Erie and has worked for the Division of Wildlife since 2018.

Freshwater Science webinar series, go.osu.edu/OSGWebinars

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