Suitability of Stocked Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout for Trophy Management in Apalachia Reservoir, North Carolina

Brown trout (Salmo trutta) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) were stocked at two sizes, small (approximately 254 mm TL) and large (approximately 356 mm TL), in Apalachia Reservoir, North Carolina, to determine the best size and species to create a trophy put-grow-and-take fish- ery. Trout were tagged and stocked in December 2012–2015 and collected with annual boat electrofishing and gill-net surveys. Small trout of both spe- cies grew faster in length than large trout; however, brown trout of both size classes reached larger sizes (≥500 mm TL). Large brown trout were highly piscivorous throughout the study, whereas small trout of both species fed primarily on macroinvertebrates within the first four months in the reservoir and converted to a more piscivorous diet by 16 months when they had reached a mean TL of ≥400 mm. Large rainbow consumed mainly macroinver- tebrates until becoming more piscivorous after 16 months in the reservoir. Our results suggested that brown trout were better suited to utilize an abun- dant alosine forage base in Apalachia Reservoir. While small rainbow trout achieved considerable growth in length, brown trout of both sizes added more weight and reached trophy sizes as they persisted longer in the reservoir and exhibited a more piscivorous diet. With the spread of invasive species such as blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis), fisheries managers are tasked with creating new management options that can either mitigate for or take advantage of new reservoir dynamics. Based on the results of this study, brown trout appear to be able to exploit these new forage bases in southeastern U.S. reservoirs, while creating unique fisheries.

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