Validation of Aging Techniques for Largemouth Bass and Channel Catfish in Central Texas Farm Ponds

A study was conducted to determine the accuracy and validity of age determination methods for largemouth bass. Micropterus salmoides, and channel catfish, lcralurus punctatus, in central Texas farm ponds. Each pond selected for this study had been stocked only once with largemouth bass and/or channel catfish. Ages of fishes collected ranged from one through fouf years of age at the time of collection. Fish ages determined by the aging methods were compared to fish ages established by stocking dates. Overall accuracy of age determinations made by these methods was 94% for largemouth bass and 77% for channel catfish. Accuracy of aging generally decreased as tishes became older. Indefinite annuli and supernumerary marks were found on the scales of the largemouth bass and on the tin spines of the Channel catfish, but a majority of these marks could be correctly identified. The scale and fin spine aging methods were further validated by determining the approximate time and the regularity of annulus formation. Annulus formation was found to occur from late February to mid-March for juvenile largemouth bass and from late March to early May for juvenile channel catfish. Regularity of annulus formation was indicated when total lengths were found to increase as the number of annuli found on the scales or fin spines increased, and when the calculated total lengths of fishes were found to agree with empirical total lengths of fishes at that age.

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