Influences of 3 Different Mesh and Hoop Size Configurations on Hoop Net Catches of Buffaloes in the Upper Yazoo River Basin

Three hoop net configurations were fished simultaneously to compare catch efficacy for bigmouth buffalo (Ictiobus cyprinellus) and smallmouth buffalo (/. bubalus) in 3 tributaries of the Yazoo River, Mississippi. Nets were small standard (4.3 m long with 1.1-m diameter hoops and 3.8-cm bar mesh), small commercial (4.3 m long with 1.1-m diameter hoops and 7.6-cm bar mesh), and large commercial (5.0 m long with 1.5-m diameter hoops and 7.6-cm bar mesh) hoop nets. Large commercial nets are the principal gear of commercial, artisanal, and subsistence fishers exploiting the resource. Small standard nets are typically used for agency-sponsored stock assessments. For bigmouth buffalo, mean ranked catch per unit of effort (MRCPUE kg/net-night) was not significantly different among gears for commercial-length fish (> 410 mm, total length (TL)) or fish of all lengths. For smallmouth buffalo, MRCPUE was not significantly different between the small standard and large commercial gear for fish of either length group, but length group-specific MRCPUE for both of these gears was significantly greater than for the small commercial gear. Size selective bias was attributed to mesh size and primarily reflected presence or absence of sub-commercial-length fish. Small standard hoop nets were logistically preferable to the large commercial gear, and provided similar data for commercial-length fish of both species and the opportunity to address pre-recruits in the stock.

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