Assessment of Catch and Exploitation of Largemouth Bass Fisheries in the Lower Arkansas River:

Historically, limited information has been available for largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) fisheries in the Arkansas River downstream of Lake Dardanelle. The objectives of this research were to characterize angler effort, catch, and harvest in the lower Arkansas River for both recreational and competitive tournament anglers and to assess potential impacts of competitive tournaments on Arkansas River largemouth bass fisheries. In October 2007, a 12-month tag-reward study and bus-route creel survey were initiated to generate catch, harvest, and effort statistics for the largemouth bass fishery in Arkansas River Pool 4 (Pine Bluff). Additional surveys were conducted to assess competitive bass tournaments. Estimated angling effort for the year was 60,007 h (24.3 h/ha), of which an estimated 11.9% was associated with competitive bass tournaments. Following adjustment for tag retention, angler non-response, and tagging-associated mortality, adjusted catch and harvest rates of largemouth bass were 69.1% and 13.8%, respectively. When incorporating mortality associated with routine handling and holding of bass by tournament anglers into exploitation estimates, total exploitation in Arkansas River Pool 4 became 19.2% (95% CI, 17.7%-21.1%). In light of the relatively high recreational catch rates and presence of tournament activity, mortality associated with these factors may have the potential to impact the largemouth bass fishery in Arkansas River Pool 4.

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