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Home > Current News > 2007

News: 2007

Spotted Seatrout Telemetry Project Begins On Calcasieu Lake
Posted: 5/1/07

Researchers from Louisiana State University (LSU) are teaming up with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for a study on the movement patterns of spotted seatrout in Calcasieu Lake. The two-year study will begin May 2007 and roughly 120 adult spotted seatrout will be outfitted with acoustic transmitters or “pingers.”

Photo: A tagged spotted seatrout.All fish with acoustic transmitters will be marked with a yellow dart tag below the dorsal fin that states “LSU-REWARD-PLEASE RELEASE.” Fishermen who catch fish with this tag should release the fish alive and call 1-800-891-3977 to report the tag number and where and when the fish was caught. It is vital that these fish be released alive so that researchers can continue to collect movement data.

The tag number is given at both ends of the tag. An example of an LSU tag number is “LT166001.”

Fishermen who provide recapture information and release the tagged fish alive will receive a Louisiana Sport Fish Tagging Program hat and T-shirt, and be entered in an annual drawing for GPS units and cash prizes of up to $500.

An array of receivers also will be placed throughout Calcasieu Lake to “listen” for fish with transmitters. Receivers will be placed on channel markers in the Calcasieu Ship Channel and on buoys in the main body of the lake. Boaters and fishermen should not tamper with or moor to the buoys.

The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and LDWF also tag fish in Calcasieu Lake. These dart tags are placed in the same location on the fish, but have different text on them.

Photo: A yellow LSU Research bouyResearch Goals

A better understanding of movement and seasonal migration patterns of spotted seatrout is critical for effective management of this species. The study will address questions such as: Do fish leave Calcasieu Lake and move offshore? If so, do they return and when? Where do fish spawn and over-winter? Do migration patterns differ by size and sex?

In addition to exploring seasonal migration patterns, this study will examine how fish use different habitat types and change their behavior when their environment changes. The degree to which and how spotted seatrout use natural and artificial oyster reefs also will be evaluated.

Artificial reefs are often assumed to act as beneficial habitat for spotted seatrout, but few studies have compared habitat use on natural and artificial reefs to confirm this notion. Some questions that will be addressed about behavior include: Do fish move to deeper waters or offshore for refuge during storms/fronts or when water temperatures peak in the summer? How do fish move in response to seasonal changes in temperature and salinity? Is there more feeding activity under conditions of increased tidal flow and decreased turbidity? Does fish movement closely follow prey distributions, such as shrimp? And, are large, old females or “sows” more solitary than smaller females and males?

Photo: Acoustic transmitterTo answer of all of these questions, researchers will use acoustic telemetry. This involves surgically implanting fish with an acoustic transmitter below the stomach that sends out a sound ping. When a fish carrying a transmitter passes within the detection range of a receiver (200 to 300 yards), the receiver records the fish identification number and date and time of the detection.

While this study of movement patterns is focused only on Calcasieu Lake, a system renowned for its large trophy trout and also a hot topic because of the recent change to more stringent fishing regulations, this particular project is part of a larger state-wide study aimed at better understanding stock structure and characteristics, seasonal migration and habitat use of spotted seatrout.

A volunteer recreational angler tagging program (CCA, LDWF) is one part of this larger study. Data from this tagging program provides important scientific information, collected from recreational anglers, on movements and stock characteristics (stock size, mortality and growth). Fishermen wanting to participate in the tagging program should call 1-800-891-3977 or email fishtags@wlf.louisiana.gov for more information.

The research project is partially funded by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration grant.

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