Rainbow Trout Growth and Survival on the Beaver Tailwater in Arkansas

Beaver Dam on the White River in northwest Arkansas, built in the 1960s for hydropower and flood control, releases cold water downstream suitable for trout survival. The trout fishery in Beaver Tailwater relies heavily on stockings, as natural reproduction is limited or nonexistent. In 2006, a 330–406 mm protected slot limit was implemented along with reduced stocking rates to increase the number of large rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in Beaver Tailwater. Further, a catch-and-release area was changed to a special regulation area (SRA) that allowed harvest but restricted angling to the use of artificial lures or flies with barbless single-point hooks. Outside the SRA bait was allowed, but anglers there were also restricted to barb- less single point hooks. From July 2009 to April 2010, four cohorts of rainbow trout were tagged with coded wire tags, stocked into the tailwater, and sampled monthly using electrofishing to estimate growth and survival. Annual survival (0.5%–5.7%) and growth rates (3–4 mm mo–1) were low for all stocked cohorts. However, creel and electrofishing surveys conducted in 2010 and 2017 detected an improvement in rainbow trout size structure, suggesting that the 2006 regulations and/or reduced stocking rates have benefited the population.

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