Trophy Largemouth Bass Abundance and Harvest in a Central Virginia Impoundment: Implications for Restrictive Slot Limits

Briery Creek Lake is a 342-ha impoundment in central Virginia that has become widely recognized as having Virginia's premier trophy largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) fishery. We estimated largemouth bass density (fish/ha) using a multiple census mark-recapture technique along a 3.2-km section of shoreline and by using the Leslie catch-depletion technique in a 4.1-ha cove. An access point creel survey was conducted in 1999 and 2000 to estimate angler catch and harvest. We used a dynamic pool model to simulate the effects of a newly imposed 356-610 mm protected slot limit with respect to size structure, harvest, yield, and abundance of trophy (?560 mm) largemouth bass. The mark-recapture study estimated largemouth bass density to be 44 fish/ha and the number of trophy largemouth bass in the lake to be 318. The Leslie catch-depletion technique estimated the density of largemouth bass to be 43 fish/ha and the number of trophy fish to be 397. The number of largemouth bass harvested in 1999 and 2000 was 2,698 and 2,353 fish, respectively. The average time required to catch a trophy largemouth bass from 1999-2000 was 142 hours. Anglers harvested 139 and 122 trophy largemouth bass in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Modeling indicated that a 356-610 mm slot limit would result in 2-3 times more trophy largemouth bass in the population, decreased yield and no change in the number of fish harvested.

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