Stocking Contributions of Black Crappie Fingerlings in Lake Hickory, North Carolina

Lake Hickory is a 1660-ha impoundment in western North Carolina with a historically popular black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) fishery. Beginning in 2000, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) trapnet-survey data suggested a decline in black crappie catch rates which was also associated with increased angler complaints. In an effort to improve the black crappie population, the NCWRC began an experimental stocking program in 2007. From 2007 to 2012, black crappie fingerlings were marked with oxytetracycline (OTC) and stocked annually into Lake Hickory. Annual assessments of initial poststocking survival of OTC-marked fish (79%-98%) and OTC mark efficacy (96%-100%) were high. Black crappie were collected using trapnets set in the fall during 2008-2012. All captured black crappie were aged, and otoliths from fish in the 2007-2011 year classes were examined for an OTC mark. Year-class contributions ranged from 0%-95%. As of the 2012 trapnet survey, approximately half (48%) of the black crappie collected with trapnets that were from the 2007 or later year classes bore an OTC mark. Continued stocking of black crappie fingerlings is recommended, along with routine trapnet surveys to verify contributions of stocked fish and overall improvements to the Lake Hickory black crappie population.

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