Video from the Field: Largemouth Bass in our Net Pen Experiment

The summer is flying by, and we’re almost done with our experiment at Blue Lake. We’re testing our hypothesis that young Largemouth Bass grow faster in habitats with vegetation. Every month we place a new batch of fish in the nets and look for differences in growth rates, diet, and body condition. We’ve already finished our July and August time periods, and recently put the fish into the nets for September. The good news is that with the new turtle fences we’re getting good survival rates in our pens and will have plenty of data to analyze. Just before we netted the August fish I shot some video to better understand behavior of our bass. Check it out below! Continue reading

Bass research continues at Blue Lake

Hayden (left), Amanda (center), and Ayman (right) with the day's catch: Largemouth Bass for our net pens.

Hayden (left), Amanda (center), and Ayman (right) with the day’s catch: Largemouth Bass for our net pens.

Our big research question is “what habitats do Largemouth Bass survive best in”, but breaking it down scientifically into testable hypotheses is really tough! One way to approach the question is by confining the fish to particular habitats and seeing how they do. Of course, there are some big assumptions confining mobile fish, but more on that later.

On July 2, we began our first experiment of this year. We placed 12 net pens in Blue Lake (near Fountain, MI) and stocked them each with baby Largemouth Bass. The net pens are 10 feet by 10 feet, with an open bottom. We put the pens in areas with 0%, 50%, and 100% vegetation coverage, to see whether the fish grow better or eat differently. Our results from last year suggested that bass in pens with no vegetation grew more slowly. However, we were challenged by a major issue: turtles! Continue reading