Food Habits of Striped Bass and Their Influence on Crappie in Weiss Lake, Alabama

A contingency of local anglers and guides from Weiss Lake, Alabama, has voiced concern that the natural reproduction of striped bass (Morone saxatilis) has negatively impacted the popular crappie (Pomoxis spp.) fishery. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impacts of naturally reproducing striped bass on the crappie population in Weiss Lake. Specifically, we examined striped bass food habits and compared crappie population characteristics before (1990-1992) and after (1993-1999) the establishment of the naturally reproducing bass population. Shad (Dorosoma spp.) accounted for 93% of the prey items consumed by striped bass whereas crappie accounted for 0.2%. Crappie growth, abundance, and size structure were variable among years, but were generally similar betwenn treatment periods. Conversely, crappie relative weight was less variable among years, and for stock- and preferred-length crappie, was higher during the post-natural reproduction period. Our results suggest that the crappie population in Weiss Lake has remianed essentially unchanged between 1990 and 1999, after accounting for the annual fluctuations associated with variable year-class strength, and has not been negatively impacted by the naturally reproducing striped bass population.

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