Restoration of Warm Water Lakes and Ponds on the National Forests in Mississippi and Louisiana

The U.S. Forest Service has been trying to improve the fish population structure of 120 flood control lakes and ponds in the National Forests of Mississippi and Louisiana. Recent efforts have included supplemental stocking, complete eradication of existing populations followed by restocking, and selective species eradication. Since 1978, 36 lakes, 25 ponds and 59 livestock and wildlife watering ponds varying in size from 0.1 to 940.5 ha have undergone fish population alteration. Fifty-three of these lakes and ponds were completely restocked, while 57 have received supplemental stocking. Preferred species combinations in restocking programs have been largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) and redear sunfish (L. microlophus), and channel catfish (lctalurus punctatus) at rates of 20,200,20, and l2-45/ha respectively. Supplementally stocked species have been largemouth bass (M. salmoides), spotted bass (M. punctulatust, Florida bass (M. salmoides floridansis), blue catfish (I. furcatus), channel catfish (I. punctatus), and redfin pickerel (Esox americanus). In 84% of improved lakes and ponds, angler success has markedly improved. In supplementally stocked lakes, channel catfish stocked at l2-20/ha have increased angler harvest and angler use days by 28%. Addition of redfin pike at 2/ha has diversified fishing interest in several dystrophic lakes. Supplemental stocking of blue catfish in small watering ponds is intended to reduce overcrowded sunfish populations. Eradication of gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum), golden shiners (Notemigonus chrysoleucas), and lake chubsuckers (Erimyzon sucetta) in 4 lakes has revitalized stunted bluegill and redear sunfish populations.

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