Dynamics Of The Largemouth Bass Population In Bull Shoals Reservoir, Missouri

Black bass fishing in the White River Arm of Bull Shoals Reservoir, Missouri, was regarded as sensational for several years following its impoundment in 1952. In 1958, just after a tagging program was added to test netting and creel census programs, an unpredicted decline in black bass fishing began. Only largemouth bass nine inches or longer were tagged so population estimates include only that portion of the population. In 1958, black bass numbers reached an all-time high, but late that year the population began a decline which continued throughout the study. The average length of bass captured by electro-fishing increased each succeeding year, indicating a population of larger bass fewer in number. According to various measurements, 1958 began with a high predator population and a low forage population. Few schools of shad were seen, and large· mouth bass scales showed poor growth. The percentage of yearlings each spring, a good indication of the success of the future fishery, was high in early 1958 but dropped sharply in 1959 and 1960. Low tag return rates indicated that angling did not seriously exploit the bass fishery. Information collected suggests the possibility of strong competition between white and black bass for forage. It suggests that white bass should not be stocked in new impoundments without careful consideration.

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