Evaluation of Largemouth Bass Supplemental Stocking on a Virginia Coastal River

Coastal rivers can support quality largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) fishing, but recruitment failure and habitat availability can influence population size and structure because of the dynamic nature of these systems. Stocking success in coastal river systems has been rarely evaluated. is study examined stocking success of oxytetracycline (OTC) marked F1 intergrade Florida (M.s. oridanus) and northern (M.s. salmoides) fingerling largemouth bass in the tidal Chickahominy River, Virginia. Fish were stocked at a density of 62 fish ha-1 in spring 2006 (mean TL = 54 mm) and 2007 (mean TL=51 mm). We used standardized long-term electro fishing and creel surveys to assess individual cohorts and temporal population trends among various size groups. We determined percent contribution by analyzing otoliths for OTC to differentiate between stocked and wild large- mouth bass. Forty percent of the preferred-size largemouth bass collected during 2009 had been stocked, dropping to 29% in 2010. Based on cohort catch-curve analysis, stocked largemouth bass had higher annual mortality than wild bass. Relative abundance of largemouth was higher in 2006-2010 as compared to other time periods. A high contribution of stocked fish existed in the fishery following stocking, which coincided with improved angler catch rates. However, fishery improvements were not solely attributed to stocking, as natural recruitment had also improved following prolonged drought. Given proper habitat conditions, supplementing largemouth bass fisheries in coastal rivers can accelerate recovery of depleted populations after prolonged or acute habitat disturbances.

Publication date
Starting page
Ending page