Age, Growth, Mortality, and Fecundity of Yellow Perch in Yeopim River, Albemarle Sound, North Carolina

Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) is recognized as a widely distributed and valuable freshwater species, but few reports have described estuarine populations in coastal river systems. We conducted a two-year study to assess the age, growth, mortality, and fecundity of yellow perch in Albemarle Sound, North Carolina. Fish were collected (n = 2,674) in 2005 and 2006 (January-February) by trap from Yeopim River, Yeopim Creek, and Bethel Creek. Yellow perch ranged in age from 1-9 years, and the catch was dominated by age-2 fish (82.1%) in 2005 and age-3 fish (84.2%) in 2006. Lengths ranged from 130 to 292 mm TL (meanfemale = 231.1 ± 3.3 S.E. mm TL; meanmale = 177.8 ± 12.1 mm TL). Length distribution and age frequency data suggest that 2003 was a successful year class for yellow perch in Albemarle Sound. Instantaneous total mortality (Z) was 0.35 (annual mortality 30%), and was similar to estimates from Chesapeake Bay. Length at age data were fitted to a Von Bertalanffy Growth Function (L∞ = 351.0, K = 0.197). Fecundity ranged from 5,000 to 45,000 eggs/female with a mean of 15,135 ± 9,068 S.E. eggs/female. Fecundity estimates were lower than estimates from the Great Lakes but were similar to fish in Chesapeake Bay.

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