August 11, 2020
By Gabe Gries
Fish Health—Black bass can ingest softbaits while they are being fished or by eating them off the bottom after they have fallen off a hook or been discarded by anglers, yet little is known about effects this might have on bass. Researchers investigated if shape and composition (biodegradable vs. non-biodegradable) of ingested softbaits affected feeding rates of largemouth bass.* Bass were fed one of the following softbaits: In the biodegradable category, a 4-inch Berkley Gulp! Ripple Shad, 7-inch Berkley Gulp! Turtle Back Worm, or 4-inch Berkley Gulp! Alive! Crawler; in the non-biodegradable category, a 4-inch Berkley Powerbait Ripple Shad, 7-inch Berkley Powerbait Power Worm, or 4-inch Roboworm FAT Worm, and then allowed to eat as many live golden shiners as they could.
Bass that ate the largest softbaits by volume, the shad-shaped baits, consumed the lowest number of shiners. Bass that ate biodegradable baits consumed less shiners than those that ate non-biodegradable baits. Bass usually expelled a softbait within nine days and biodegradable baits were expelled faster than non-biodegradable ones. Although results suggest ingested softbaits do not present a significant long-term risk to largemouth bass health, softbaits should be disposed of properly.
*Sanft, E. J., A. P. Porreca, J. J. Parkos III, T. M. Detmer, and D. H. Wahl. 2018. Effects of ingestion of soft plastic fishing lures on largemouth bass. N. Am. J. Fish. Mgmt. 38:718-724.