A Preliminary Report On The Biology Of The Roanoke Bass, Ambloplites Cavifrons Cope, In North Carolina

The Roanoke bass, Ambloplites cavifrons, was described by Cope in 1867 seemingly from a single three-inch specimen recovered from the Roanoke River in Montgomery County, Virginia. Subsequent literature indicates the species remained unrecognized in North Carolna until 1963 when encountered in Fishing Creek during a survey and inventory of the Tar River Basin. Inquiry among local anglers and Wildlife Protectors has revealed this fish apparently is taken by rod-and-reel fishing in small-to-moderate numbers from several diverse streams of both the Tar River Basin and the Neuse River Basin. The Roanoke bass-known locally in North Carolina as "Red-eye Bass", "Red-eye chub", or "Red perch"-is very popular and, seasonally, is much sought by anglers who know where, and how, to fish for it. Sixty-nine wild, adult Roanoke bass have been captured since field work was initiated July 1, 1967-47 in wire traps (catfish baskets), 18 by angling, 3 in fyke nets, and 1 with cresol. Wild, adult Roanoke bass adapted readily to a hatchery-pond environment and spawned successfully in one-tenth acre ponds during May, 1968 and May 1969. Spawning was initiated when the water temperatures reached the low 70's. All nests were constructed at depths of two feet or less and only on gravel substrate. Fry, because of their proclivity for hiding in and around vegetation, were extremely difficult to collect, however, approximately 1,800 fry were collected from the 1968 spawn. Fry from the 1969 spawn have not been collected as yet. Redbreast sunfish growth was significantly greater than that of the Roanoke bass in an experimental pond at the Fayetteville Hatchery. There was no significant difference in the lineal growth of the two populations, but Rock bass weights averaged significantly higher than the Roanoke bass weights in an experimental pond at the Table Rock Hatchery. The examination of scales from 21 wild, adult Roanoke bass and from 123 wild, adult and fingerling, redbreast sunfish taken generally from the same streams indicates that the main advantage of the Roanoke bass over the redbreast sunfish as a game fish is its longevity and consequently, greater size potential. Crayfish and fish were the only organisms found in the stomachs of ten wild, adult Roanoke bass. Aquatic invertebrakes-mainly Tendipedidae, Coleoptera, and Notonectidae-comprised/,the bulk of the fingerling diet in a hatchery pond. Fish remains were found in only 1 of 96 fingerling stomachs examined. Data gathered from four gravid female Roanoke bass indicates that the number of eggs produced each year apparently increases with age-at least to seven years-but that the number of eggs per unit of body weight decreases.

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