Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Physiological response of wild rainbow trout to angling: Impact of angling duration, fish size, body condition, and temperature

January 1, 2005

This study evaluated the immediate physiological response of wild rainbow trout to catch-and-release angling in the Alagnak River, southwest Alaska. Information was recorded on individual rainbow trout (n = 415) captured by angling including landing time and the time required to remove hooks (angling duration), the time to anesthetize fish in clove oil and withdraw blood, fish length and weight, and water temperature at capture locations. Plasma cortisol, glucose, ions (sodium, potassium, chloride), and lactate were analyzed to determine the effects of angling duration, fish size, body condition, and temperature. Levels of plasma ions did not change significantly during the observed physiological response and levels of plasma glucose were sometimes influenced by length (2000, 2001), body condition (2001), or temperature (2001). Levels of plasma cortisol and lactate in extended capture fish (angling duration greater than 2 min) were significantly higher than levels in rapid capture fish (angling duration less than 2 min). Rapid capture fish were significantly smaller than extended capture fish, reflecting that fish size influenced landing and handling times. Fish size was related to cortisol and lactate in 2002, which corresponded to the year when larger fish were captured and there were longer landing times. Body condition (i.e., weight/length regression residuals index), was significantly related to lactate in 2000 and 2001. Water temperatures were higher in 2001 (mean temperature ± S.E., 13 ± 2oC) than in 2002 (10 ± 2oC), and fish captured in 2001 had significantly higher cortisol and lactate concentrations than fish captured in 2002. The pattern of increase in plasma cortisol and lactate was due to the amount of time fish were angled, and the upper limit of the response was due to water temperature. The results of this study indicate the importance of minimizing the duration of angling in order to reduce the sublethal physiological disturbances in wild fish subjected to catch-and-release angling, particularly during warmer water temperatures. It is also important to note that factors such as fish size may influence both the duration of angling and subsequent physiological response. 

Publication Year 2005
Title Physiological response of wild rainbow trout to angling: Impact of angling duration, fish size, body condition, and temperature
DOI 10.1016/j.fishres.2004.10.006
Authors Julie M. Meka, S. D. McCormick
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Fisheries Research
Index ID 70029580
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center