If you’ve caught any black-marked bass, you may be able to cash in on it.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is asking anglers to report any bass with signs of Blotchy Bass Syndrome in an effort to learn more about the virus. In turn, anglers will be placed in weekly drawings for gift cards.
Signs of BBS include ink-like spots on the bass, though fish with the virus generally appear healthy. The syndrome, caused by Adomavirus, has also been identified in other species like sunfish, catfish, and crappie, according to TPWD biologist Cynthia Fox-Holt.
Fox-Holt said TPWD is partnering with the United States Geological Survey and West Virginia University to research where and why the virus is transmitted among bass. It was first reported in a scientific journal in 2018, so it’s a fairly new virus, she said.
“So far, all of the fish we have seen with our own collections and photos that anglers have submitted, over 95% of the fish appear plump and healthy,” she said. “However, there are plenty of fish that we don’t see because reservoirs are not 100% controlled environments. So there may be fish that have the virus and don’t survive and we don’t know it.”
She added that the virus is not considered dangerous to bass, other fish, humans or pets, and infected fish are safe to eat if cooked properly. The virus has not been detected in humans or pets.
TPWD is hoping that by locating bass with symptoms of BBS, researchers can study transmission. so far, it’s been found in 18 states including Texas.
Fox-Holt said it’s too early to tell if the virus is negatively impacting fish populations.
“We don’t know if the virus makes fish more susceptible to bacterial or other viral infections, or if the virus/infection is influenced by season or temperature, or if it is present in fish that aren’t showing blotches. We are trying to answer these questions and, hopefully, will get ahead of it if it does turn out to be detrimental to fish,” she said.
Anglers who believe they caught bass with BBS can submit images on the MyCatch app. For Texas-specific drawings in prized from Bass Pro Shops, they can submit their images to Fox-Holt at Cynthia.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Along with the photos, anglers should include the name of the waterway where it was caught and the date of the catch.
Anglers will then be placed in weekly drawings, which include $3,000 in gift cards, through January. Photos must be submitted by the end of the year.
Those who submit multiple photos are eligible for more prizes.