Results of a 45-cm (18-in) Minimum Size Regulation on Largemouth Bass Populations

A 45-cm (18-in) minimum size limit was placed on largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in January 1978 in 4 North Carolina reservoirs. Annual spring electrofishing samples were conducted to obtain size distribution information on each lake, length-weight information on 2 lakes, and largemouth bass population estimates on one of the study lakes. After a 4-year investigation, the proportion of quality size bass in the stock size distribution of 2 lakes increased. On a 3rd lake, a newly developing largemouth bass fishery was successfully protected from a reduction in quality size bass from initial heavy angling exploitation. Concurrently, bass length-weight relationships were unaffected. On a 4th lake, characterized by good recruitment and low forage levels, the proportion of quality did not increase and length-weight relationships remained undesirable. Estimates of largemouth bass population size indicated no change in the number of adult bass (TL > 30.0 cm) present in the lake.

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