Comparison of Plastic Pipe and Juniper Tree Fish Attractors in a Central Texas Reservoir

Fish attractors are commonly used by fisheries agencies to concentrate cover-seeking species. The objective of this study was to determine if an attractor fabricated with polyethylene pipe (plastic) attracted and concentrated as many largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and sunfish (Lepomis sp.) as juniper tree (Juniperus ashei) attractors. Fish counts at each attractor type were made by scuba divers at five study sites in Canyon Reservoir, Texas. Overall, few fish were observed in the plastic attractors (mean = 3.4) compared to juniper tree attractors (mean = 30.3) (P < 0.05). Significantly greater numbers (P < 0.05) of adult and juvenile largemouth bass and bluegill (juvenile and adult) were concentrated in juniper attractors compared to plastic attractors. While 81% of the attractors deployed at the test sites were plastic, there was strong evidence (P < 0.05) that bluegill (adults and juveniles) and adult largemouth bass selected juniper attractors. Juvenile bluegill were the most abundant species and life stage observed (71% of the fish observed), which may have attracted foraging adult largemouth bass. Although fabricated plastic fish attractor designs are desirable because of their longevity, their effectiveness for attracting and concentrating target species should be evaluated prior to being used in large scale projects.

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