Chill out: physiological responses to winter ice-angling in two temperate freshwater fishes
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Louison, Michael J.
Hasler, Caleb T.
Raby, Graham D.
Suski, Cory D.
Stein, Jeffrey A.
Louison, Michael J., Caleb T. Hasler, Graham D. Raby, Cory D. Suski, and Jeffrey A. Stein. "Chill out: physiological responses to winter ice-angling in two temperate freshwater fishes." Conservation Physiology 5 (2017): cox027. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/conphys/cox027.
A large body of research has documented the stress response of fish following angling capture. Nearly all of these studies have taken place during the open-water season, with almost no work focused on the effects of capture in the winter via ice angling. We therefore conducted a study to examine physiological disturbance and reflex impairment following capture by ice-angling in two commonly targeted species, bluegill Lepomis macrochirus and yellow perch Perca flavescens. Fish were captured from a lake in eastern Wisconsin (USA) and sampled either immediately or after being held in tanks for 0.5, 2 or 4 h. Sampling involved the assessment of reflex action mortality predictors (RAMP) and a blood biopsy that was used to measure concentrations of plasma cortisol and lactate. The capture-induced increase in plasma cortisol concentration was delayed relative to responses documented in previous experiments conducted in the summer and reached a relative high point at 4 h post-capture. Reflex impairment was highest at the first post-capture time point (0.5 h) and declined with each successive sampling (2 and 4 h) during recovery. Bluegill showed a higher magnitude stress response than yellow perch in terms of plasma cortisol and RAMP scores, but not when comparing plasma lactate. Overall, these data show that ice-angling induces a comparatively mild stress response relative to that found in previous studies of angled fish. While recovery of plasma stress indicators does not occur within 4 h, declining RAMP scores demonstrate that ice-angled bluegill and yellow perch do recover vitality following capture.