SEAFWA Journal Volume 9, March 2022

SEAFWA Journal Cover - Volume 9, March 2022

The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is composed of governmental fish and wildlife agencies in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and the territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Southeastern Association is one of four such regional fish and wildlife associations. While the regional associations are autonomous, they work very closely with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, of which all southeastern states are also members. Only state wildlife agencies in the 15 southeastern states and territories are members of the SEAFWA.

Its objectives are to protect the right of jurisdiction of the member states over their wildlife resources on public and private lands; to carefully scrutinize state and federal wildlife legislation and regulations and to offer support or opposition to legislative proposals or federal regulations in accordance with the best interests of the member states; to consult with and make recommendations to the federal wildlife and public land agencies in order that federal management programs and programs involving federal aid to member states shall be so conducted as to be in the best interests of the member states; and to serve as a clearinghouse for the exchange of ideas concerning wildlife and fisheries management, research techniques, wildlife law enforcement, hunting and outdoor safety, and information and educations programs. The Association participates with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, other regional associations, other governmental agencies and citizens’ organizations in pursuing mutual goals benefiting fish and wildlife resources; maintains a variety of committees consisting of fish and wildlife professionals who explore and analyze a wide range of issues and factors affecting fish and wildlife resources and makes recommendations as appropriate; sponsors cooperative fish and wildlife programs among member states and other entities to address issues of mutual interest and to benefit to fish and wildlife resources; provides effective, efficient and allied representation for member states regarding natural resource matters, particularly for issues which are beyond the capability of one agency to address or which may unduly tax the ability of individual states.

The Association’s annual meeting and conference is held every year, usually in October. The annual meeting and conference are on a rotational basis with each state having its turn as host. Officers are elected at a spring meeting, usually held in May, with the host state normally being that of the incoming President. These meetings promote exchanges of ideas and philosophy between administrators and the professional fish and wildlife biologists, managers, enforcement, information and education, and technical workers in related fields.

Organized March 14, 1938, at a meeting of state officials at Jacksonville, Florida, the Association has played a major role in the evolution of state, regional and national conservation affairs. Its officers and member have included many of the nation’s conservation leaders. The Clarence W. Watson Award is the most prestigious award given in the Southeast and is presented annually to the career individual who, in the opinion of the Award Committee, has made the greatest contribution to wildlife or fish conservation during the previous year or years.

Editors and officers

Managing Editor

Robert A. Gitzen, Ph.D.

College of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Auburn University, Alabama

Associate Editor-Fisheries

Steven M. Sammons, Ph.D.

School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences Auburn University, Alabama

Southern Division, American Fisheries Society

Associate Editor-Wildlife

Daniel U. Greene, Ph.D. Environmental Research South Weyerhaeuser Company Columbus, Mississippi

Technical Editor

Ms. Kathi Wong Richmond, Virginia

SEAFWA Officers—2021

President— Paul Johansen, Chief, Wildlife Resources Section, West Virginia Department of Natural Resources

Vice President—Eric Sutton, Executive Director, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Secretary-Treasurer—Robert H. Boyles, Director, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Past President—Charles F. “Chuck” Sykes, Director, Wildlife and Fisheries Division, Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources

At-large Board Member—Jack Montoucet, Secretary, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

At-large Board Member—Ryan Brown, Executive Director, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources

Executive Secretary—Curtis Hopkins, Ph.D.


The Journal of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is published annually. All manuscripts are subject to peer review by members of the Southeastern Section of the Wildlife Society and the Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society. Listed below are the referees that have provided reviews for the Journal. The Association and the editorial office are indebted to these individuals for their valuable services.


Brandon Baker, Sarah Baker, Carolyn Belcher, Jason Bettinger, Phillip Bettoli, Craig Bonds, Timothy Bonvechio, Eric Brittle, Lawrence Dorsey, Michael Eggleton, Christy Graham, Hunter Hatcher, Brent Hess,  Mike Holley, Travis Ingram, John Jackson, Rebecca Krogman, Kevin Kubach, Timothy Lane, Matthew Lewis, Steve Lochmann, Dijar Lutz-Carrillo, Sean Lynott, Matthew Marshall, Christopher Middaugh,  Wes Neal, Ben Neely, John Odenkirk, Patrick O’Rouke, Clint Peacock, Eric Peatman, Mark Pegg, Jeff Powell, Michael Quist, Jake Rash, Peter Sakaris, Jason Schooley, Nathan Smith, Nick Trippell, Jason Wisniewski, Melissa Wuellner

Wesley Boone, Ronald Bielefeld, Michael Brasher, Adam Butler, Steven Castleberry, Michael Chamberlain, Colter Chitwood, Christopher Chizinski, Brian Davis, Michael Eichholz, Blake Grisham, John Gruchy, Heath Hagy, Houston Havens, Steve Hayslette, Raymond Iglay, Richard Kaminski, Joe Lancaster, Tiffany Lane, Elijah Lee, JT Pynne, Scott Rush, Chris Serenari, Michael Small, Mark Smith, Richard Stevens, James Whitaker

Box-nesting Wood Ducks and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks in Coastal South Carolina

SEAFWA Journal Volume 9, March 2022

Installation and maintenance of artificial nesting structures are established practices for increasing production of secondary cavity nesting waterfowl, especially wood ducks (Aix sponsa). In South Carolina, tens of thousands of nest boxes have been erected on public and private lands. Ad- ditionally, since the early 2000s, black-bellied whistling ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis) have expanded their range into South Carolina and now are nesting sympatric with wood ducks in boxes. We conducted a survey of 364 and 354 nest boxes in 2016 and 2017,...

Changes in Angler Use Associated with Trout Stocking in Two North Carolina Small Impoundments

SEAFWA Journal Volume 9, March 2022

Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), brown trout (Salmo trutta), and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) have been stocked by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (Commission) into rivers and creeks in the mountain region of the state since the 1940s, but few trout fish- ing opportunities have existed in other regions. In December 2016, the Commission began to stock trout once a year into publicly accessible small impoundments across western and central parts of North Carolina. However, no formal evaluations of angler use in response to these...

Rainbow Trout Growth and Survival on the Beaver Tailwater in Arkansas

SEAFWA Journal Volume 9, March 2022

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...

Quantifying and Identifying Factors Influencing Length Changes in Popular Freshwater Fishes Preserved in Ice

SEAFWA Journal Volume 9, March 2022

Fish length data are important for assessing sportfish populations and establishing and enforcing length-based harvest regulations. Evidence suggests that fish length can change after preservation in ice. These changes can impact comparison of live-caught and post-catch length measurements and therefore angler compliance to regulations, a concern raised by state law enforcement personnel. Similarly, length changes may skew length-based analyses done by fisheries managers. We evaluated TL changes of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), catfishes (Ictaluridae...

Black Bullhead Otolith Annual and Daily Increment Validation

SEAFWA Journal Volume 9, March 2022

Otolith age validation studies are essential to identify the accuracy of using otoliths to age fish; however, black bullhead (Ameiurus melas) otolith validation studies have not been conducted for either adult or age-0 individuals. Therefore, the objective of this study was to validate annu- lus and daily ring formation in lapilli otoliths of black bullheads. We assessed timing of annulus formation using marginal increment analysis on 409 black bullheads caught monthly from July 2015–June 2016 in Lake Carl Etling, Oklahoma. We evaluated daily growth increment deposition by batch-...

Using Pectoral Spines and Otoliths for Estimating Ages of Channel Catfish and Effects on Estimating Population Parameters

SEAFWA Journal Volume 9, March 2022

Accurate and precise age estimates are required to correctly estimate fish population metrics such as age, growth, mortality, and recruitment. Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) are commonly aged using the lapilli otolith or the articular process of the pectoral spine. Many fisheries managers prefer to use pectoral spines because the process does not require the sacrifice of the fish, but this method may produce biased age estimates. To com- pare precision of the two methods, we used pectoral spines and lapilli otoliths to age 649 channel catfish collected from five Oklahoma...

Evaluation of Otoliths and Four Non-lethal Structures for Estimating Age and Population Characteristics of Three Black Bass Species

SEAFWA Journal Volume 9, March 2022

Black bass (Micropterus spp.) are the most popular freshwater sportfishes in North America and are intensively managed. Successful management of fish populations relies on dependable age data for estimation of age determined population rate functions (growth, mortality, and recruit- ment). Otoliths provide accurate age estimates compared to most other aging structures, but otolith removal requires fish to be sacrificed, leading some fisheries managers to rely on alternative, non-lethal methods for estimating ages of fish. However, non-lethal aging structures may produce biased age...

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

SEAFWA Journal Volume 9, March 2022

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-...

Spatial Patterns of Florida Largemouth Bass Genetic Introgression into a Northern Largemouth Bass Population after Stocking

SEAFWA Journal Volume 9, March 2022

To enhance trophy potential of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) fisheries, state agencies across the southeastern United States commonly stock Florida largemouth bass (FLMB, M. s. floridanus) outside of their native range into native northern largemouth bass (NLMB, M. s. sal- moides) populations. This practice has been ongoing for decades but spatial patterns associated with the spread of FLMB alleles in a reservoir after stocking are not well understood. From 2007–...

Evaluating the Genetic Response Following Introduction of Florida Largemouth Bass into Two Large Arkansas Reservoirs

SEAFWA Journal Volume 9, March 2022

The Florida largemouth bass (FLMB; Micropterus salmoides floridanus) is widely stocked throughout the southeastern United States with the intent of increasing the size potential of resident northern largemouth bass (NLMB; M. s. salmoides) populations. During the early 2000s the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission initiated an eight-year FLMB stocking program on selected reaches of DeGray Lake and Lake Ouachita in an effort to sat- isfy angler preferences. The goal of this stocking program was to achieve 40% of sampled largemouth bass in each introduction zone possessing...