Evaluation of Two Sizes of Fingerling Smallmouth Bass Stocked into a South Carolina River

Smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) have been stocked intermittently into the Broad River, South Carolina, since 1984, resulting in a popular fishery. Numbers and sizes of smallmouth bass stocked vary annually depending on availability. Two sizes of fingerling smallmouth bass are stocked; however, stocking efficacy of these sizes was unknown. Therefore, contribution and relative survival of small (mean TL=42 ? 0.3 mm) and large (mean TL=150 ? 1.5 mm) fingerling smallmouth bass stocked during 2005?2010 into the Broad River was evaluated by differentially marking with oxytetracycline. The total contribution of stocked fish at age-1+ in the Broad River ranged from 4% to 47% among year classes and was positively correlated with mean spring (March?May) water flows. Further, relative survival of large fingerlings was 7.7 times greater than small fingerlings. Results of this study indicated that stocking smallmouth bass in the Broad River is only beneficial when mean spring water flows are average or above average,and large fingerlings should be stocked instead of small fingerlings.

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