Development of a Trophy Largemouth Bass Fishery in Louisiana

The management objective at Caney Creek Reservoir, a Louisiana lake impounded in 1986, was to produce trophy-size largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). Management actions included introduction of Florida bass (M s. floridanus), supplemental forage stocking, and initiation of length limit regulations. Prior to impoundment, the reservoir basin contained northern largemouth bass (M. s. salmoides) and intergrades between the northern and Florida subspecies. Eight years after the initial stocking of Florida bass in 1986, 49% of the population were northern bass, 23% were Florida bass, and 28% were intergrades. Relative abundance of bass fry and fingerlings was higher during the first 4 years of impoundment than reported for similar new lakes in Louisiana. Forage availability declined for bass <305 mm by 1988, 2 years after impoundment. Mean relative weight (Wr) of bass 203-305 mm declined to 86 by 1989; bass >305 mm had a mean Wr of 96. Although juvenile sunfish (Lepomis spp.) were abundant, they were not available as forage because of dense vegetation coverage. Gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum) <127 mm were not collected in samples from 1986 to 1990, and the bass population during this period was primarily comprised offish <254 mm. Adult threadfin shad (D. petenense) were stocked in May 1990 and by the following year became the dominant forage species. Following threadfin shad introduction, Wrs for 203-to 305-mm bass began to improve significantly. In April 1991, a 356-to 432-mm slot length limit on bass was imposed; in July 1994, the slot was modified to 381-483 mm. In June 1991, a largemouth bass >5.4 kg was caught. Since that time, catches of 30 bass >6.1 kg have been documented, including 3 state records. The 3 Caney Creek Reservoir state records were electrophoretically verified as a northern bass, an intergrade, and a Florida bass.

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