Chill out: physiological responses to winter ice-angling in two temperate freshwater fishes.

Michael J. Louison, Caleb T. Hasler, Graham D. Raby, Cory D. Suski, Jeffrey A. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)cox027
JournalConservation physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • INHS
  • Lactate
  • RAMP
  • Ice fishing
  • Catch-and-release
  • Cortisol
  • Stress response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Physiology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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