Evaluation of Rainbow Trout Stockings on Richard B. Russell Reservoir1

Establishment of a trophy (2500 mm TL) rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, put, grow, and take fishery was evaluated with tag rewards and creel surveys. Over 310,000 catchable rainbow trout were stocked in Richard B. Russell Reservoir from 1988 to 1991. A $5.00 reward was offered for return of tags from 28,000 trout. Yearly tag returns ranged from 9.8% to 2.6%. Average tag reporting rate was 42% with a high of 50% and a low of 37%. Tag loss was estimated at 16.6% in 1991. About 60% of tags returned were captured within 14 days after stocking and an additional 19% between 61 and 210 days after stocking. Creel surveys since 1988 indicated an increase in the weight of trout harvested the first 3 years before a decline in the last year. Growth of trout within the year of stocking approached 150 mm; carryover exceeded 250 mm. Low dissolved oxygen levels in 1990 and 1991, resulting from Lake Hartwell releases, appeared to limit the development of the trophy fishery. However, improvements in water quality of late summer releases would offer the potential for a quality (≥400 mm TL) trout fishery.

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