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Post Column: Breeding season is exciting time for fishers

As spring quickly approaches, bass will be moving to shallow, warm water where they can lay and fertilize eggs. They seek shallow water where the sun will keep the water and the eggs warm. This is because the sun acts as an incubator for the eggs, much like when birds sit on their eggs in preparation for hatching.

The bass, in preparation for the spawn, will build a nest, or “bed”, which is often easily visible by shore or boat. This is where the fun begins for the fisherman. Sight-fishing the spawn is some of the most exciting and fun fishing one can do, largely due to the fact that you can see the exact fish you are trying to catch.

The fish will remain near the bed anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks, protecting against predators trying to gobble up their offspring for an easy meal.

Catching these bass can be a very challenging experience. This is because the bass is rarely looking to eat your lure out of hunger. As a fisherman, the goal here is to get the bass agitated to the point that it eats the lure out of pure frustration. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple hours, and sometimes, no matter how hard you try, certain fish cannot and will not get caught.

There are various techniques that are more or less effective than others, but that is a discussion for another day. So we will assume you have found the fish and its bed, enticed aggression, watched the bass eat the lure, and have successfully hauled the mature bass into your hand and into the photograph. The next step is very important.

Keeping a healthy stock of fish in any given lake is a vital part in continuing the sport of fishing. This is why we see an increasing effort to preserve the livelihood of these often- elusive creatures.

Along with keeping a clean and healthy water source, catch-and-release practices are imperative to the long-term survival of bass and other fish species, especially during the spawning season.

There are a couple things to keep in mind when catching and releasing during the spawn. One is the importance of the practice in terms of the offspring and future generations of bass. As previously mentioned, bass are protecting the eggs from predators such as crawfish and small fish such as bluegill. If these bass are removed, it is very likely the eggs will fail to hatch and not survive.

Simply throwing the bass back into the water is not the best technique to ensure bass survival. When fish get hooked, they will try their hardest to keep from getting caught. During the fight, a fish loses valuable oxygen within its body and often doesn’t have the energy remaining to replenish it, resulting in its death.

A way to assist the fish is to continually pass water through the gills of the fish, not letting it swim away until it is back to full strength. It is also important to return the fish to the sight of its bed.

The final catch-and-release strategy to keep in mind is protecting the fish from the potential harm from the hooks of lures. The ideal hooking will occur in the mouth or “lips” of the fish, but there are times when a fish will literally swallow the entire hook, getting it lodged into the stomach or gills. Sometimes even the most cautious and careful fisherman is unable to leave the fish unharmed.

An article I recently read provided a solution. It discussed how pouring Coca-Cola down a wounded fish’s throat can stop the bleeding and save the fish’s life. I can’t say that I have partaken in this strategy, but in my desire to protect and preserve the development of fish sustainability, I might just — like the school kids would holler at the water fountain — “save some for the fishes.”

Ryan Dentscheff is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University, he president of the OU Anglers Association and a columnist for The Post. Send him your fishing tips at

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