Freshwater Fisheries Conservation Lab

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Early Results on the Movements of Smallmouth Bass in Lake Ontario

Early Results on the Movements of Smallmouth Bass in Lake Ontario

Our first download of data from our receivers in Lake Ontario have provided some fascinating results about Smallmouth Bass movements in the Lake. This post shows the rough location of receivers that we recently placed on the back of the Main Ducks and some data showing the activity of 4 fish around one receiver. Continue reading if you want more details…

There are obviously many different ideas amongst anglers when it comes to fish movements. In view of this, it is always very interesting to obtain any data on this issue and share it amongst the angling community. In this post, we are showing the presence (colour or black) or absence of 4 different Smallmouth Bass around one of our receivers on the back of the Main Ducks (see data photo) over the course of several days. First of all, it is noteworthy that these fish, as well as all of the other 8 fish in this group, continued to come and go around these receivers for an entire month (Sept 2015). Our initial interpretation of this activity is that these fish live in the vicinity of the Main Ducks (ie these are Main Duck fish) and that they probably show up around our receivers periodically to feed and then may go and rest (out of detection range) in deep water when they are not being detected by the receivers. From a science perspective, this information is exciting because it demonstrates that this is indeed an appropriate control group of fish for our larger study on bass movement because they seem to live in one general area and hang around there. From an angler’s perspective, this is also extremely interesting because it provides insight into something we all wonder about…”Do Smallmouth Bass in a waterbody as large as Lake Ontario roam around over massive areas, or do they tend to live in small areas most of the time and just move shorter distances to feed or rest?” As a scientist and an angler, I believe that this preliminary data suggests that the latter explanation is probably correct and that there are probably communities of Smallmouth Bass associated with particular areas in the lake rather than a large mixing pot of fish that roam around the lake in a more random fashion.






Rough locations of 6 receivers at the Main Ducks. Receivers were in approximately 25' of water, 1 km apart, with detection range of roughly 1 km.


Movements of four different fish (white, green, purple, blue) around one stationary receiver are shown here. Areas with colour or black indicate presence of the fish around the receiver. Areas without colour indicate the absence of the fish.

It is noteworthy that the black areas indicate times when the receiver detected the same tag every few minutes. At this time scale the detections overlap making it look black on the graph.