Food Utilization by Riverine Smallmouth Bass in Relation to Minimum Length Limits

Food habits of smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui) in the New River were studied to compare diet of fish in a minimum length limit regulated section (Virginia) with those in a non-length limit regulated section (West Virginia). Insects were the dominant food type by number for 152-228 mm smallmouth bass in both sections. Numerically, insects were also found to be common in smallmouth bass of several other size categories. Crayfish and fish, however, combined to form a large part of the diet of smallmouth bass greater than 228 mm. Crayfish were a more significant component of the diet of smallmouth bass in West Virginia than in Virginia in the fall 1982 sample. This may be a factor leading to low condition indices of Virginia smallmouth bass and may affect the success of the minimum length limit regulation.

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