Smallmouth Bass Habitat Use and Movement Patterns with Respect to Reservoir Thermal Structure

Temperature-sensing ultrasonic transmitters were implanted in adult smallmouth bass {Micropterus dolomieu) in thermally stratified Melton Hill Reservoir, Tennessee, to monitor daily summer movement. Based on energetic expectations and preferred temperatures, smallmouth bass were expected to inhabit areas with optimal temperatures except when food availability required them to move to areas of less-desired temperatures to feed. No significant changes in temperature or depth were observed during daily tracking sessions. Instead of demonstrating diel offshore/inshore movements, the fish remained in relatively warm (>28 C) water even though cooler water was available. While in warm shallow habitats, tagged fish were often associated with submerged or overhead cover. Smallmouth bass activity peaked in the afternoon and was minimal at night.

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