Multispecies Trout Management on a Small Ozark Tailwater

Beginning in September 1998, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) conducted a three-year creel survey on the trout fishery below Beaver Dam, Arkansas, to collect current information on angler effort, catch, and harvest. Angler catch rates for rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) remained high (>1.0 fish/h) throughout the study. However, a reduction in angling effort coupled with a high rate of voluntary release resulted in low exploitation of the put-and-take rainbow trout fishery. The annual catch of brown trout (Salmo trutta) exceeded the number stocked in all three years suggesting that survival rates for this species are high. Conversely, mean catch rates for brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) (0.06 fish/h) and cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) (0.03 fish/h) were very low and the annual catch was typically much lower than numbers stocked. Few of the brown trout, cutthroat trout, or brook trout caught were above the respective minimum length limits for these species, suggesting that poor growth or high mortality could be limiting the success of these regulations. The results of this study suggest that multispecies trout management is unsuccessful on Beaver Tailwater and that AGFC could make better use of available resources by focusing on fewer species.

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