Long, J.M., D.R. Stewart, J. Shiflet, D. Balsman, and D.E. Shoup. 2017. Bait type influences catch and bycatch in tandem hoop nets set in reservoirs. Fisheries Research 186:102-108. doi:10.1016/j.fishres.2016.08.014
Tandem hoop nets have become the primary gear for sampling channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus, but suffer from high incidences of bycatch, particularly aquatic turtles that usually drown as a result. We sought to determine if bait type, ZOTE© soap and ground cheese logs, would influence catch of channel catfish (CPUE and mean TL) and bycatch of fishes and aquatic turtles. We sampled with tandem hoop nets in 13 Kentucky reservoirs (5–73 ha) using a crossover design and two sampling events. We found no difference in channel catfish catch rates between bait types, but mean sizes of fish caught using ZOTE© soap were approximately 24 mm longer compared to cheese. Fish bycatch was similar between bait types, but tandem hoop nets baited with ZOTE© soap caught up to 61% fewer turtles and mortality of turtles that were captured was up to 12% lower than those baited with cheese. Depth of net set, water temperature, and Secchi depth were environmental factors measured that affected catch and bycatch, but varied among species. Using ZOTE© soap as bait in tandem hoop nets appears to be a fairly simple and straightforward method for maintaining high catch rates of channel catfish while minimizing turtle mortality.