Effects of Expanded Stocking Locations on Striped Bass Survival

Smith Mountain Lake is a 8,337-ha reservoir formed by the Roanoke and Blackwater Rivers in Virginia. This lake maintains suitable habitat for striped bass (Morone saxatilis) but does not contain adequate spawning habitat for natural reproduction. Consequently, it requires annual stockings of this species to maintain the fishery. We examined how recruitment of striped bass to age-1 was affected by increasing the number of stocking locations at Smith Mountain Lake. Prior to 1996, striped bass were stocked at 2 sites. Four sites were stocked in 1996-1997 and 10 to 14 sites were stocked from 1998-2000. Approximately 118,000-170,000 striped bass were stocked at each site prior to 1996 but the number of striped bass stocked at each site in 1996-2000 was reduced to 17,000-78,000. Some of the new stocking sites were in areas of the lake that had greater nutrient concentrations and prey densities. Reduced stocking densities at each site increased recruitment to age-1. Reservoir managers may need to consider reservoir dynamics and density dependent relationships of stocked fish when choosing the number and location of stocking sites.

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