Environmental Influences on Largemouth Bass Recruitment in a Southern Great Plains Reservoir

We analyzed relationships between largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) recruitment and environmental characteristics in Skiatook Lake, Oklahoma, from 1997 through 1999. Catch rates of young-of-year (YOY) were positively associated with inflows into the reservoir during the spawning season (April-May), whereas juvenile catch rates were positively related to reservoir releases during the post-spawning period (Jun-Nov). Abundance of juvenile fish in fall electrofishing samples increased from 1997 through 1999. No evidence of over-winter mortality was detected. Estimated swim-up dates for young-of-year largemouth bass were later each year from 1997 to 1999. Growth of YOY largemouth bass was not correlated with any of the measured environmental variables. Our results show that increased water levels during the spawning period and distribution of nutrients throughout the reservoir via water releases during the post-spawning period enhanced largemouth bass production in Skiatook Lake.

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