Reservoir Management Prognosis: Migraines or Miracles

There are about 500 reservoirs (larger than 500 acres), totaling 4.3 million acres, in the 14 States of the Southern Division. Angling demand is predicted to double on Southern waters by the year 2000, and most of the increase is expected to be satisfied by man-made lakes. Southern reservoirs are typically below average in basic fertility, but long growing seasons foster high annual production rates, resulting in above average sport fish yield potentials. The steady accumulation of reservoir environmental and biological data during the past quarter century has greatly increased our ability to predict standing crops and angler harvests and to devise management practices based on production potentials. Production is primarily controlled by available nutrients, basin morphometry, water exchange rate, climatic cycles, eutrophication rate, and species composition. Future management plans for individual reservoirs should be based on detailed models of environmental factors and calculated optimum production and yield levels. Manipulation of controllable environmental factors (e.g., water level fluctuation, water exchange rate), intensive cultivation of exposed lake bottoms in the fluctuation zone to enhance survival and growth of sport fish young, and improvement of the forage base through introductions of threadfin shad and other species should receive increased management emphasis. The increasingly successful practice of stocking striped bass, walleye, and other predators should be thoroughly evaluated in terms of angler harvest and effects on existing fish populations. The prognosis for reservoir management is good.

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