Use of a Nursery Pond to Establish Smallmouth Bass in Beaver Reservoir, Arkansas

Production of smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) in 11 -ha Beaver Nursery Pond was estimated from 1990 to 1994 to determine numbers of fish stocked in Beaver Reservoir. In 1990, 2 rapid population sampling methods, seining a known area and SCUBA transects, were tested against a Petersen mark-and-recapture estimate. Both sampling methods provided population estimates that did not differ significantly from mark-and-recapture values, but both generated greater confidence intervals. Annual production in the nursery pond by late June varied between 57,000 and 164,733 fish/year, with a mean of about 97,500 ± 59,750 (confidence interval, CI); mean total length of the smallmouth bass produced was 50 mm. Smallmouth bass were usually released into the reservoir in late June to reduce cannibalism, but during 1993 and 1994 fish were retained in order to assess growth and population changes. Post-June mean growth rate of young bass was as high as 0.46 mm/day and population declines were not statistically significant, indicating cannibalism was minor. Once in Beaver Reservoir, young smallmouth bass dispersed up to 5.2 km during the first 48 hours and up to 9 km after 24 days. Dispersal was principally directed down-lake. In 1992, wild-spawned smallmouth bass were discovered in Beaver Reservoir, the first time the species had spawned in that reservoir since the dam was closed in 1963. Subsequent year classes have been produced and the species has extended down-lake >36 km to the dam area.

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