Age and Growth Comparison of White Bass Among Three Southeastern U.S. River-Reservoir Systems

White bass (Morone chrysops) are a popular sport fish native to the Mississippi River basin and widely introduced elsewhere. We examined population characteristics of this species in three systems (Kentucky Lake, Tennessee; Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, Mississippi; and Grenada Lake, Mississippi) with different habitats and fishery characteristics to evaluate whether population dynamics varied sufficiently to require system-specific management. Using white bass collected from these three systems in 2019–2020, we tested two aging techniques and found sectioning of otoliths pro- vided more precise age estimates compared to using whole otoliths. We collected white bass up to 9 years of age, representing the oldest maximum age reported for southern populations. However, populations were composed of mostly younger fish, with 84% four years old or younger. All fish reached preferred size (300 mm TL) by age 3 across study areas. We found differences in length-at-age among populations, but we do not believe that these differences were large enough to justify system-specific management regulations.

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