Population Dynamics of White Crappie Occurring in a Small Georgia Impoundment Stocked with Female-only Largemouth Bass

Crappies (Pomoxis spp.) are popular sportfish, but can be difficult to manage due to erratic recruitment and variable growth. In this study, we document the population dynamics of a white crappie (P. annularis) population in a small impoundment characterized by low predator density and abundant populations of several forage species. White crappies (n=301) were collected by electrofishing in October 2012. Relative abundance as indexed by electrofishing catch per unit effort of crappie was high (103.3 fish h-1 ± 18.7 SD). A sub-sample was aged (n = 153) and growth was described by a von Bertalanffy growth curve as total length (TL) = 379.6 (1-e -0.341[age + 0.769]). Growth was considered medium to fast with crappie reaching 254 mm TL in 2.5 yrs. Mean TL of age-2 crappie was 231 mm TL, but lengths ranged from 85 to 365 mm TL. The age distribution revealed that age-2 fish comprised 93% of the population and several year-classes were completely absent from the age distribution. Aging revealed that both stunting and rapid growth were apparent in the same year-class. Crappie populations stocked in a female-only bass fishery can exhibit a high dispersion of lengths within age- classes, which can be a challenge to characterize with traditional population dynamic assessment tools. Future research and management efforts in this small impoundment should be allocated towards a creel survey that assesses angler exploitation and age demographics of the catch, as well as dietary preferences of the white crappie.

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