The waterways around San Angelo are a great place to catch fish.  One of the most frequently caught fish in these waters is largemouth bass.  Largemouth bass are great to eat and fun to catch.  They get pretty big and they put up a big fight.

Jeff Vanderspank on Unsplash
Jeff Vanderspank on Unsplash
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A lot of largemouth bass in our area and around Texas are now being caught with black spots. The condition was first recognized in 1985. Biologists were able to rule out parasites and diseases. Eventually, researchers named the condition hyperpigmentation/melanosis. Today, it is better known as Blotchy Bass Syndrome.

Photo: Texas Parks and Wildlife
Photo: Texas Parks and Wildlife
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Because the condition is now reported nearly everywhere in Texas,  Texas Parks and Wildlife are asking for your help. They say if you catch a bass with ink-like spots, please snap a photo and report the location where it was caught.  They ask that you email the information to cynthia.fox@tpwp.texas.gov

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash
Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash
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While there is no definitive consensus as to what causes this condition. Recently, scientists have used gene sequencing to discover a new viral family Adomaviridae, which has been associated with disease in other fish species. It it believed that a new version of this virus is what causes Blotchy Bass Syndrome. Although it will take much more research to prove it conclusively.

Photo by Trust "Tru" Katsande on Unsplash
Photo by Trust "Tru" Katsande on Unsplash
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Over the years, theories abound.  Some biologists note that changes in pigmentation is generally a response to increased solar radiation and many pollutants. A noted biologist also observed that blotching might be an inherited genetic response to any source of skin damage or irritation. This could be the result of higher rates of Catch and Release fish.  Today, many fish now come into contact with boats, the ground or cover while hooked.

Photo by Drew Farwell on Unsplash
Photo by Drew Farwell on Unsplash
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One theory being considered is that the cause of blotchy bass syndrome is all the prescription drugs getting flushed into waterways.  Biologists report many fish are hooked on anti-depressants and many other drugs people are flushing down the toilet in increasing amounts.  I see a potential horror movie in the works about mutant drug addicted fish reaping revenge on anglers who've for years caught and fileted their relatives.

Photo by Laura College on Unsplash
Photo by Laura College on Unsplash
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Back to the facts, as of now, scientists report that there are no dangers to handling, cleaning, or eating blotchy bass. The fish are not in any way harmful.  Let's just hope that this fish virus, which might be the cause of this condition, like Covid doesn't cross the species barrier and begin infecting humans. Many of us don't have enough wardrobe selections that go with spots.

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