Growth and Condition Response of Lake Norman Striped Bass to Increased Stocking Rates and More Restrictive Harvest Regulations

Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) stocking rates were increased in 1988 and more restrictive harvest regulations were initiated in 1992 to increase striped bass abundance in Lake Normal, North Carolina. The objective of this study was to make inferences about current forage sufficiency for striped bass from length at age of capture and body condition of striped bass collected since 1994. Fish were obtained from November-January fishing tournaments and gillnet sets in 1994-1998. Late season samples were designed to collect fish after they had several months to recover from any reduced condition caused by summer temperature and dissolved oxygen related habitat stress. Striped bass were also collected with gill nets in late June or early July 1996-1998 to gather pre-summer habitat stress body condition information. Growth for fish older than age 2 had declined from pre-study data collected by Duke Power Company. Relative weight (Wr) indices for striped bass were poor (means ~80%) in all years for both winter and the June samples. Poor growth and condition, especially in the absence of summer habitat stress, suggest that forage is insufficient for the current number of striped bass in Lake Norman.

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