Want to catch that fish? Check its personality profile

Environment Fishery

A study at Queen’s University in Kingston seems to indicate that fish not only have individual personalities, but that personality could determine where the fish may be caught.

According to a news release from Queen’s:

Anglers fishing near rocky outcrops or in areas of water with submerged vegetation may be more likely to catch timid fish, while those fishing in open water may be more likely to reel in bolder fish, according to new research conducted at Queen’s University Biological Station.

“Boldness–the tendency of an individual to take risks–is one personality trait of considerable interest to behavioural biologists,” explains lead author Alexander Wilson, a visiting biologist from Carleton University. “Ours is the first study to have characterized a relationship between capture technique and individual boldness in a wild population of fish.”

The researchers studied bluegill sunfish caught either by angling or beach seining (a long net that is dragged through water to encircle fish).

The fish caught angling were more timid than fish captured in the wild using a seine net. However, when a group of fish captured by seine net was then released in a large outdoor pool and angled for, it was the bold individuals who were most often caught in the open.

 Wilson says the researchers caught more fish in the areas with refuge–a habitat that appeals more to timid fish. On the other hand, beach seining or angling in open water are both capture techniques that are more likely to target bolder, risk-taking fish.

 This research was recently published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science.