Seatrout Survivor

The vast majority of specks survive catch and release, study says.

nl_news5_450x300.jpg

ON THE SPOT: Seatrout showed a 90-percent survival rate in a catch-and-release study.
Photo: Will Drost

What happens when you release a speck? Does it swim away and thrive or swim away and die? These questions keep Greg Stunz up at night. So Stunz, a marine biologist at Texas A&M; University, Corpus Christi, devised an experiment to find some answers.

Stunz, with the help of some recruited anglers, caught hundreds of seatrout off North Carolina, using various types of hooks. The fish were then held in cages under docks for three days. After the three days, here's some of what Stunz found out:

  • Trout showed a 90-percent survival rate.

  • Size doesn't matter. Mortality rates for small and large fish were similar.

  • Where the fish was hooked determined its chances of survival after release.

  • Experience does matter. Veteran anglers released more trout successfully than rookie anglers did.

What's more encouraging, Stunz told reporters, is the fish survived a considerable amount of handling. "If you release the fish on the spot, I can imagine that the mortality rate is going to be even less."