Food Related Problems in Bluegill Populations of West Point Reservoir

This study was conducted to determine population structure, relative condition, food availability, and food habits of bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus) from West Point Reservoir in 1980 and 1981. Fish were collected with rotenone and by seining 3 times, weekly, from May through September. Zooplankton and benthic samples were collected at each fish sampling site. Scarcity, small size, relative old age, and poor physical condition of the fish indicated that the population was stunted. Results of fish food inventory and gut content analysis revealed a shortage of preferred food for bluegills of all sizes. The food shortage was attributed to competition with the abundant threadfin (Dorosoma petenense) and gizzard (D. cepedianum) shads and to the effects of the annual 3-m water level fluctuation which reduced standing stocks of benthic invertebrates. Fishery management alternatives were discussed.

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