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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Examining the effects of authentic C&R on the reproductive potential of Northern pike

Flink, Henrik; Nordahl, Oscar; Hall, Marcus; Rarysson, Anton; Bergstrom, Kristofer; Larsson, Per; Petersson, Erik; Merila, Juha; Tibblin, Petter


The practice within recreational fisheries to release captured fish back to the wild, known as catch-and-release (C&R), is an increasingly important strategy to protect fish stocks from overexploitation. However, C&R is a stressor and since animal reproduction is particularly sensitive to stress there is reason to suspect that such a practice induces sublethal fitness consequences. Here, we investigated whether and how C&R fishing influenced the reproductive potential in an anadromous population of Northern pike (Esox lucius). First, female pike were exposed to authentic C&R using rod-and-reel fishing in a coastal foraging habitat prior to the spawning period. Next, we observed the migration to the freshwater spawning habitat and compared both the timing of arrival and maturity stage between C&R-treated and control individuals. Finally, to evaluate effects on the quality and viability of eggs we stripped captured control and recaptured C&R-treated females, measured egg dry mass to assess nutrient content, conducted artificial fertilisations and incubated eggs in a controlled laboratory experiment. We found no evidence of C&R causing alterations in either arrival time, maturity stage, or the quality and viability of fertilised eggs. In combination, our results suggest that long-term effects of C&R-induced stress on key reproductive traits of pike, if any, are minor.


Angling; Migration; Recreational fishing; Reproduction; Stress

Published in

Fisheries Research
2021, volume: 243, article number: 106068
Publisher: ELSEVIER

Authors' information

Flink, Henrik
Linnaeus University
Nordahl, Oscar
Linnaeus University
Hall, Marcus
Linnaeus University
Rarysson, Anton
Linnaeus University
Bergstrom, Kristofer
Linnaeus University
Larsson, Per
Linnaeus University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources
Merila, Juha
University of Helsinki
Tibblin, Petter
Linnaeus University

Associated SLU-program

Lakes and watercourses

UKÄ Subject classification

Fish and Aquacultural Science

Publication Identifiers


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