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Kevin J Legg

Video on gobie on bass spawn

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In the past few days, the lab crew conducted some interesting experiments on Lake Ontario to determine whether gobies will consume any of the “bottom fry” stage of Smallmouth Bass if the male is angled off the nest and quickly returned. They were able to get some amazing footage that provides the answer. We thought it was definitely worth sharing. For those that are interested, some additional information is provided below.

 

For several years, we’ve been investigating the relationship between the timing of bass spawning and the opening of bass season on Lake Ontario. As part of this research, we are also trying to better understand the potential impacts of gobies on bass that are still at different stages of spawning when the season opens. Gobies are often talked about as an “egg predator”, but much less is known about whether they will consume other early life stages of fish. The video associated with this post provides conclusive evidence that gobies will also quickly eat the “bottom fry” stage of Smallmouth Bass. This amazing footage shows several gobies striking and consuming bottom fry after the guarding male is angled off the nest. Another other interesting thing about this footage is that this large male was angled and released very quickly by an experienced angler, but the fish was not able to chase the gobies out of the nest when it first returned. Only after a few additional minutes of recovery was it able to protect the remaining bottom fry. During that time, several gobies were in the nest consuming the bottom fry. The last noteworthy point about this video is that it was taken 11 days after the current opening date of bass season.

 

For best quality click HD in settings.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Lake Ontario United mobile app

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Awesome, Awesome!! Any more proof than that one doesn’t need!! To bad you can’t make this way more publicized, for those who think there’s not a problem with catch & release!!!

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Outstanding video. Thanks for sharing it. I wonder how much time would have to pass for the bottom fry to get large enough to avoid the gobies? 

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13 hours ago, Stillwater said:

Outstanding video. Thanks for sharing it. I wonder how much time would have to pass for the bottom fry to get large enough to avoid the gobies? 

That is what I was wondering also?

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If bass numbers have been down since gobies increased in numbers, but the size of bass has increased. The question is if they eat eggs and fry and removing the bass from the nest why do we have the catch and release season. I guess politics push the regulations more than science.

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Posted (edited)

I am impressed with the role that the male bass plays in protecting the nest. I knew that but seeing it so vividly in action is great. 

 

There is a lot of politics in the setting of Fish and Game laws unfortunately. Look at the whole issue of "antler restrictions" for a classic example of the politicians trying to over ride the DEC and force a law on the general population. Bass fishing is big business and has a huge lobby of organizations and businesses behind them to drive laws like catch and release. I do not know the history of the regulation change but after seeing this video I certainly smell something and it is coming from down by Albany. This video should be used as argument #1 in repealing C&R regs.

Edited by Stillwater
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I viewed a very similar video that was from lake Erie and they concluded that due to the gobie infestation the male bass and even some of the larger bass were killing themselves due to stress of protection and gorging on them.

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magazine.fishsens.com/round-goby-eating-smallmouth-bass-lake-erie-lake-ontario-bigger-since-invasion.htm

Here is another article just FYI

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Bass should be allowed to be fished until May 1st, then close the season until JULY 1. Shouldn’t be that difficult to do the Great Lakes have special regulations anyway. If they were salmon being destroyed you would see the change.

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Bass should be allowed to be fished until May 1st, then close the season until JULY 1. Shouldn’t be that difficult to do the Great Lakes have special regulations anyway. If they were salmon being destroyed you would see the change.

I’d vote for that! Adding the no fishing or targeting during the closed season.


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Bass should be allowed to be fished until May 1st, then close the season until JULY 1. Shouldn’t be that difficult to do the Great Lakes have special regulations anyway. If they were salmon being destroyed you would see the change.

Sounds to me like a decent ideal.


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Leave the regulations as is. Gobies have been in the lake for years now and as a result the bass have only gotten bigger, and maybe moved to deeper water here and there. I don't agree with targeting bedding bass specifically, I think they should be left to do their thing. The smallmouth are still in the lake, but the techniques have changed drastically since I was a kid. I don't see there being a huge decline in population when most bass tournaments on the bays around here that include Lake O are in fact won with smallmouth, tenfold. 

 

 

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with all due respect how do you "leave the regs as they are and leave the bass alone to do their thing" when opening day this year still had many bass still on their beds? the 2 statements dont work together. No doubt the bass are bigger due to the Gobies but you still need little ones to get big. Have a tournament opening day this year and you loose a big number of fry in a particular area. Between 65 and 70 percent of the smallmouth's were decimated in 2005 via VHS disease. The original timetable was 7 to 10 year return. Still has not fully recovered. 

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To answer your question I would say to not target bedding bass like some people seem to do. Yes, I know just by casting around you can pick a bass off it's bed without knowing, but we know there's people who specifically sight fish beds. Also, not all of these fish are spawning at the exact same times either, you can sight them out in shallow water on the lake and see this for yourself during those times. Many also go into the bays where gobies aren't as much of an issue if at all. 

 

I'm not much of a bass tournament fisherman at all and go back and forth on how much those guys actually care about conservation vs their little payouts so I won't really defend their practices much, I'm only speaking from a C&R perspective. I think I said in another thread that I believe tournaments are more detrimental to these populations than our current C&R regs.

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Everyone knows the bass are bigger with rise in the gobie population but having fished the river since the mid seventies I know the numbers in the SLR have dropped significantly and the fisheries biologists concur. Since tournament fishing is a size not a numbers game their totals weights are still good and likely better than pre gobie time. Just delay the opener a week or two to help protect this great resource for future generations.


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the general consensus from bass fishermen or lets say those who primarily target bass is that the smallmouth fishing has improved since the gobie infestation. That is what I hear from most guys, I haven't totally come to that conclusion myself aside from the quality vs quantity aspect, and again any of these tournaments that start on a bay but include the lake are practically always won with smallmouth, not largemouth from the bays. 

 

I wouldn't have issue with pushing out the opening day by a couple weeks, but I would leave the catch & release as is. 

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Posted (edited)

Excellent evidence of what is going on with the smallmouth numbers. I myself believe (without any other hard evidence) this s the main issue. The bass are still here but the numbers are not. I know cormorants eat a lot of fish, but they are native and so are bass. And unguarded fry and eggs are easy pickings for gobies. And killing of helpless young is one of the easiest ways to cut back any life populations....unless said populations have a culture of guarding their youth as sunfish family members do. I vote for moving out  the opening for black bass (largemouths too) for  a few more weeks into summer to give those male guardians the time to do their thing without the added hassle of "parenting" for nothing. And no catch and release (obviously  :mmm:). Thanks for the vid Kevin :yes:

Edited by panfisher

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This is an excellent video Kevin.  I have done lots of scuba diving and snorkeling in Lake O and the St. Lawrence so I will add my observations.  The gobies seem to be less in numbers now.  Perhaps this is because it took a while for other fish to recognize them as a viable food source.  At some point one sees schools of bass fry off the bottom.  Gobies seem to stay very near the bottom so the fry may be protected at that point.  They are probably vulnerable to other fish however, I don't think they receive any protection from their parent bass at this point.  By the way, one might wonder why gobies don't eat their own fry and be more self limiting.  We see the goby fry under the cobble rocks, out of sight!  One last thing that relates to bass is that since the mussels have carpeted the bottom there seems to be way less crabs, a primary food source for bass.  jperch

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Myself and my family have fished from Ontario/Williamson to Henderson/Sacketts harbor since the 1960's. For anyone to say that small mouth bass numbers have increased must not have years of history to compare to.. Sure bass are bigger and their bellies are gorged with Gobies. It seems also that there are more smallmouth in the bays than in some years ago when Largemouth were the primary bass in the bays, and smallmouth on the lake.

 

On the other hand Walleyes in the bays and river have gotten much better in numbers. I wonder what the eyes do differently than the smallmouth when it comes to laying their eggs?

 

Divers I have spoken to also say the same as they are seeing lower numbers on wrecks compared to years past. Not many years ago you could catch smallmouth bass after bass of all sizes, I don't mean 10 or 15, I mean a hundred plus a day of all sizes.

The last several years bass have gotten much, much bigger on average with far fewer numbers.. I can't remember when I caught a 12" bass on the lake. Every bass I catch is 17" to over 20"  which is great, but they are not as plentiful. What happened? 

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Catch and release is bad enough early in the year for reasons shown but even worse is tournament anglers keeping bass in the livewells and not releasing them for hours later and many miles away from the nest. Even though the catch and release trophy season seems like a cool idea, obviously its very bad for the fishery. When will the scientists at the DEC stand up?

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JSfish,
Fisheries told me that since walleyes spawn in April the gobies haven't moved into the shallows thus there spawning isn't affected. Since bass spawn much later in the year the gobies have moved into the shallows by then and thus are easy prey. I certainly agree with you on bass number and size, much different than in 20-40 years ago.


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Ten or fifteen years ago, whenever we would dive in Lake O over rocky bottom we would acquire a small school of bass that would follow behind us.  I think they were looking for any crabs that we might stir up with our fins.  And you could call them in by banging two rocks together.  If you caught a small crab and released it a few feet off the bottom they would often zoom in for an easy dinner.  Now there are way less bass.  There are more carp and drum(sheepshead), which feed on the mussels.  I do not know where the walleye spawn in the St. Lawrence river, we don't dive when the water is that cold.  In other bodies of water I believe they head up feeder creeks to spawn.  We see the gobies on hard bottom.  We don't see them over silty, muddy bottoms.  That makes sense I think because gobies lay on the bottom, supposedly they don't have a swim bladder?  So maybe the gobies and walleye spawn sites just are not in the same place.  

jperch 

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