Natural resource agencies have developed catch-and-release regulations for Walleyes Sander vitreus of prohibited size and number to reduce mortality in many recreational fisheries. The efficacy of such regulations is contingent upon the released fish surviving, but survival data on Walleyes captured by ice-angling are lacking. We estimated the survival of Lake Nipissing (Ontario, Canada) Walleyes that were captured by both active and passive ice-angling methods using a variety of hook types and lures baited with Emerald Shiners Notropis atherinoides. We also assessed the role of de-hooking methods on the survival of deeply hooked Walleyes. After the angling event, Walleyes (n = 260) were held for 24 h in a submerged holding pen to estimate postrelease survival. Average mortality after the 24-h holding period was 6.9%. Fewer Walleyes captured by active angling were deeply hooked (9.3%) than passively caught fish (50.4%), and deeply hooked Walleyes were observed to have more frequent postrelease mortality (14.8%) than shallow-hooked Walleyes (3.0%). There was no significant difference in mortality rates of Walleyes caught by passive angling (9.8%) or active angling (2.8%); mortality rates of fish caught on circle hooks (6.1%), J-hooks (8.2%), and treble hooks (5.6%) also did not differ. Neither air temperature nor the presence of barotrauma had a significant effect on mortality of captured Walleyes. Survival did not significantly differ between deeply hooked fish that had the line cut (11.1%) and those that had the hook removed (22.6%). Results from this study suggest a relatively high incidence of Walleye survival after catch-and-release angling through the ice.

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Journal North American Journal of Fisheries Management
Twardek, W.M. (W. M.), Lennox, R.J. (R. J.), Lawrence, M.J. (M. J.), Logan, J.M. (J. M.), Szekeres, P. (P.), Cooke, S.J, … Danylchuk, A.J. (A. J.). (2018). The Postrelease Survival of Walleyes Following Ice-Angling on Lake Nipissing, Ontario. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 38(1), 159–169. doi:10.1002/nafm.10009