Growth and Food Habits of Age-0 Walleye x Sauger Hybrids in Thunderbird Reservoir, Oklahoma

Ninety-eight thousand walleye (Stizostedion vitreum vitreum) x sauger (S. canadense) hybrid (saugeye) fingerlings were stocked in Thunderbird Reservoir, Oklahoma, in May 1985, and 129,400 fingerlings were introduced in April 1986 to evaluate the possibilities of a superior put, grow, and take fishery where previous walleye fry stockings have failed. Saugeye showed rapid growth rates; age-0 fish attained a mean length of 270.8 ± 8.2 mm (mean ± 95% CL) by October 1985, and 256.1 ± 11.2 mm by October 1986. Both year classes preferred inland silversides (Menidia beryllina) as a forage species, with 75% of the stomachs sampled containing inland silversides. Although ≤200 mm largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) also utilize inland silversides, they do so only during periods when other forage species are limited. Therefore, competitive interaction during saugeye early life history is not suspected. Saugeye demonstrated an outstanding potential for use in a put, grow, and take fishery for other Oklahoma impoundments.

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