Movement and Habitat Selection Of Largemouth Bass in a Florida Steep-sided Quarry Lake

The movement and habitat selection of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) was determined in a north-central Florida lake from 18 April 2002 to 1 May 2003 via radio telemetry. The study site was a steep-sided, 7-ha flooded limerock quarry, composed of six conjoined sub-basins. Twelve largemouth bass were internally implanted with radio transmitters (of no more than 18% of the total length of the fish). Limnetic areas were selected over littoral areas during the summer (May through October) and fall/winter (November through January) periods. Only one fish used littoral areas more than limnetic areas during this time. In the spring (February through April), habitat use switched. Sunken trees were the only structural habitat significantly used by largemouth bass (P < 0.05). Other structural habitats (aerators, feeders, fish attractors, and humps and boulders) had neutral preference values. Areas within 5 m of the shoreline were strongly avoided (P < 0.05). Home range was positively correlated with days sampled, but not total length and weight of fish. Home range varied from 0.56 to 4.84 ha, with means of 3.04 ha for all fish, and 4.09 ha for the five fish that were tracked over the entire study. No seasonal trends were evident in home range size. One fish established a separate home range from 9 January to 18 February 2003; after which it returned to its previous range. Fish exhibited constant movement during diel sampling periods, often moving between sub-basins. No day/night differences in movement or habitat preference were detected. It is speculated that the largemouth bass fed primarily on open water prey. Increasing structural habitat may not measurably increase angler catch rates for largemouth bass in steep-sided lakes where open water prey are the principal forage. Managers should focus their efforts on educating anglers to direct fishing effort to open areas to increase catch rates of largemouth bass. Key words: radio telemetry, habitat selection, Micropterus salmoides, open water, littoral

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