Largemouth Bass Fishery Characteristics in the Arkansas River, Arkansas

The Arkansas River largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) fishery has not been intensively managed or studied, especially downstream of Lake Dardanelle. Recent issues that have potentially affected the fishery necessitated a comprehensive assessment of populations throughout the entire Arkansas portion of the river. During 2004-2005, largemouth bass populations were assessed in all 11 Arkansas navigation pools of the river using boat-mounted, nighttime electrofishing. Populations were young with 94% of the individuals consisting of ages 1-4. Across years and pools, size structure measures were within acceptable ranges for largemouth bass (mean PSSQ = 51, range 28-72; mean PSSP = 18, range 8-36), though theoretical maximum sizes generated from growth models were generally smaller than average (mean L∞ = 474 mm TL, range 414-530). Populations exhibited aboveaverage condition and growth rates, with total annual interval mortality approximated from catch curves averaging 48% (range 25%-66%). Short-term recruitment of largemouth bass (as mean catch-per-unit-effort of age-1 bass) varied three-fold between the two years sampled, though longer-term recruitment (as quantified by the Recruitment Variability Index) suggested recruitment to be relatively stable through time. Population statistics generally suggested that Arkansas River largemouth bass populations were comparable to similar impounded river systems in the southeastern United States.

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