Food Habits of Largemouth Bass in Two Heated East Texas Reservoirs

Food habits of largemouth bass, (Micropterus salmoides) , from 2 heated East Texas reservoirs having different prey communities were studied. In Lake Monticello, shad, primarily threadfin shad (Dorosoma petenense), were the dominant prey most of the year. Sunfishes were the major food item in winter months. Shad were especially important in the diets of largemouth bass 153 - 306 mm in total length. Utilization of sunfishes increased with size of largemouth bass. Sunfishes and shad were equally abundant in the diets of largemouth bass ≥306 mm TL. Largemouth bass population structure and condition were good based on monthly proportional stock density and relative weight indices. In Lake Welsh, sunfishes were the dominant food of all sizes of largemouth bass, particularly during winter and spring. Many largemouth bass consumed insects during the summer, suggesting low forage fish populations. Based on monthly population and condition indices, largemouth bass population structure and condition were poor. Sunfishes alone may not provide adequate prey to support largemouth bass populations in heated reservoirs. Introduction of a clupeid such as threadfin shad, in heated reservoirs with low prey diversity, may benefit structure and condition of largemouth bass populations.

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