November 1998 State Project Summary

Missouri Department of Conservation – Mike Colvin (573) 882-9880, ext. 3256

  • Channel Catfish Management in Small Impoundments: Paul Michaletz (573) 882-9880. – Paul Michaletz is initiating a new research study designed to optimize our use of channel catfish that are stocked into small Missouri impoundments. Currently, little is known about their populations because they are difficult to sample and we do not know how to obtain a representative sample. Consequently, there are no standard criteria for determining appropriate stocking rates. Paul’s study will: 1) evaluate channel catfish sampling methods, 2) determine and assess channel catfish population characteristics, 3) evaluate the potential for competition among channel catfish and between channel catfish and bluegills, and 4) determine appropriate stocking rates for channel catfish in small impoundments. Paul is now concentrating on evaluating gill netting and baited hoop netting as sampling techniques.
  • Missouri’s Walleye Initiative: Kevin Richards (573) 751-4115. – The Missouri Department of Conservation started a new walleye initiative in 1998 in an effort to increase both the number of locations where anglers can expect to catch walleyes and the number of walleyes available for them to catch. The Department has intensified their walleye management and stocking efforts on two of their best known walleye reservoirs: Stockton (25,000 acres) and Norfork (22,000 acres). Stockton will receive 25 fingerlings/acre ever other year and Norfork will receive 15 fingerlings/acre every year. Other reservoirs that will receive high priority and regular stockings are Smithville (7,200 acres) and Longview (900 acres). In addition, Paul Michaletz will be evaluating the contribution of stocked fingerlings at Stockton and Smithville. Four other reservoirs that will continue to receive stocked walleyes at a lower density are Bull Shoals, Lake of the Ozarks, Long Branch, and Mark Twain.

    In addition to the increased efforts on Missouri reservoirs, walleyes will be stocked into six rivers in an effort to either increase or establish fishable populations: St. Francis, Eleven Point, and Black rivers in southern Missouri, and the Grand, Salt, and upper Mississippi rivers in northern Missouri.

  • Rainbow Trout Regulations at Lake Taneycomo: Mike Kruse (573) 882-9880. – Lake Taneycomo is a run-of-the river reservoir constructed in 1913 for hydroelectric production. In 1959 the cool water discharge from Table Rock Lake created a popular trout fishery in Lake Taneycomo. Over the years the size of the rainbow trout in the lake have been decreasing, prompting a study to determine why. Results of that study indicated that rainbow trout growth was good and that anglers harvested a high proportion of the fish before they had a chance to grow much larger than the stocking size (10-12 inches). Consequently, a regulation protecting trout from 12 to 20 inches long was implemented on the upper 3 miles of this 23-mile long lake in March of 1997 to determine if a restrictive harvest regulation would improve the size structure of the population. The previous regulation was 5 trout/day with no size limit. In addition to the protected length range, anglers were restricted to artificial lures only in the regulation zone. Early results have been encouraging. Electrofishing capture rates in the regulation zone have increased from 78/h in March of 1997 to 312/h in April of 1998. The PSD of rainbow trout also has increased from 7 % when the regulation was first implemented to 32% one year later. To date there has not been an increase in the RSD16 of the population, but we expect that to come later as trout will have more time to attain the larger size. Although controversial at first, anglers seem to be pleased with the new regulation.
  • Eight-Inch Bluegill Size Limit at Tobacco Hills Lake: Jake Allman (816) 356-2280. – The Missouri Department of Conservation purchased a tract of land with a 17-acre lake (Tobacco Hills Lake) in 1994 and discovered that the lake contained a large population of big bluegills over 8 inches long and a crowded bass population with few fish over 15 inches long. Expecting an onslaught of fishing on this “new” lake, the Department implemented a restrictive regulation consisting of an eight-inch size limit and eight daily creel limit on the bluegills. At the same time a 15-inch length limit was implemented on largemouth bass to maintain a high density population.

    In spite of heavy fishing pressure on bluegills, the population has maintained its excellent quality. Although the figures for the latest sampling have not been compiled yet, Jake reports that there are still a lot of bluegills over 8 inches long and several from 9 to 10 inches. Last year, fishing pressure for bluegills was 275 h/acre and anglers harvested 77 bluegills >8 inches long/acre. The mean length of harvested bluegills was about 8.3 inches. Recruitment of bluegills into the legal population appears to be excellent, and Jake reports an abundance of 4-inch fish. Bass densities are still high (about 75/acre >8-inches long) with few legal fish present in the population.

    In addition to the high density of largemouth bass, Jake attributes this lake’s quality bluegill population to a productive watershed and abundant aquatic vegetation dominated by American pondweed and brittle naiad which cover about 20% of the lake’s surface. When asked if they favor the restrictive bluegill regulation, 95% of all anglers said yes.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries – Gary Tilyou (504) 765-2343

  • Caney Creek Reservoir– Caney Creek Reservoir is a 5,000 acre lake located in Jackson Parish, Louisiana and was created in 1986. It is one of Louisiana’s “trophy” largemouth bass lakes and has produced the current state record bass of 15.94 pounds. Hydrilla was first observed in Caney in 1989 and early attempts to eradicate the plant with chemicals were unsuccessful. In the summer of 1993, over 30% of the lake was infested with aquatic plants. The Department stocked 12,000 triploid grass carp into Caney Creek Reservoir in February of 1994 to reduce the coverage of aquatic vegetation. No submerged vegetation was present in the summer of 1996 except for occasional regrowth from tubers. The Department had established an optimal vegetation coverage in Caney of 15% – 30%. To restore some submersed vegetation, the removal of a portion of the stocked fish would be necessary. The Department has spent hundreds of man-hours utilizing a variety of removal techniques including rotenone pellets, pound nets, bow fishing and gill nets but has only removed 1490 grass carp or 12.4% of those stocked. Will we continue to attempt removal of grass carp but are looking for better control methods.

    Sampling has indicated a reduction in the catch rates of stock size largemouth bass, and have began a creel survey in January 1998 to compare current catch rates with those found in past angler surveys.

  • False River – False River is a 3,200 acre oxbow lake in Point Coupee Parish, Louisiana. It is one of Louisiana’s original “trophy” largemouth bass lakes. In March 1998, the trophy management program for False River will be discontinued. Physical changes in the lake, primarily silt deposition, water fluctuations during spawning season and the disappearance of almost all submerged aquatic plants have severely reduced recruitment of largemouth bass. To increase recruitment, largemouth bass harvest restrictions will go from an 8 fish creel with a 15 – 19 inch slot to a 5 fish creel with a 14 inch minimum. Additionally, the Department will continue to work with local, state and federal authorities to identify and correct problems on the lake and within the watershed.

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources – Gerry Buynak (502) 564-7109, ext. 361

  • Sub-adult Largemouth Bass Stocking in Carr Fork Lake– The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources met with concerned anglers in 1990 to discuss the black bass fishery in Carr Fork Lake (710 acres). Anglers attending the meeting estimated that their current catch rates for 12.0 in fish in this eastern Kentucky lake was 0.24 fish/h ( harvest rate of 0.01 fish/h) under a 12.0-in minimum size limit. These anglers stated that they wanted a catch rate of 1.18 fish/h for 12.0 in fish and a harvest rate of 0.06 fish/h. In response to this pressure, the Department recommended increasing size limits on largemouth bass to 15.0 in and agreed to begin an experimental supplemental bass stocking program to attempt to achieve their desired catch rates. Creel surveys in 1991 showed that actual catch rates for 12.0 in fish was 0.10 fish/h with harvest rates of only 0.01 fish/h.

    The largemouth bass stocking program (10 fish/acre) began in 1993 when 7,252 marked largemouth bass that averaged 11.4 in and 0.83 pounds (production cost of about $1.85 per fish) were stocked in September. Studies indicated that the stocked bass needed to be 8.0 inches long to have sufficient forage. Similar sizes and numbers of bass were stocked in October, 1994. The stocked bass in both years had an immediate and large positive, but short term (2-3 months) impact on the anglers catch. Even though the stocked bass were not subjected to harvest, over-winter survival for the two year classes was estimated at only 13.8%. The stocked bass represented 65% of the number of 12.0 inch bass caught and releases in 1993 and 1994. Angler catch rates increased to 0.58 fish/h (12.0 inch) with a harvest rate of 0.01 fish/h but still did not meet angler expectations. It is believed that the poor over-winter survival was related to catch and release mortality and possibly to a limited amount of illegal harvest. Large numbers of stocked bass collected shortly after stocking showed visible signs of bacterial infections possibly due to multiple catch and release.

    The stocking program was changed in 1996 and 1997 to a spring stocking program in an attempt to reduce the high over-winter mortality observed during the first two years. Stocking rates and size of bass stocked in 1996 and 1997 were similar to those in previous years. Results of the spring stockings are incomplete, but are showing similar short term large positive increases in angler catch rates, poor survival, and no improvements in harvest. Catch rates of 12.0 inch bass in 1996 and 1997 increased to 0.81 fish/h with a harvest rate of 0.01 fish/h, but still remained below desired rates . Through 1997, only 8 stocked bass have been harvested with 7 15.0 inches being caught and released.

    The current evaluation is incomplete, but it does not appear that the stocking program has resulted in meeting angler expectations even though large increases in the catch and release fishery has occurred. In addition, some possible negative impacts may have occurred as a result of the experimental stocking program. Fishing pressure for bass has increased from 26 man-hours/acre (6.8 trips/acre) in 1991 to 64 man-hours/acre (18.0 trips/acre) in 1997. Electrofishing catch rates of 12.0 inch wild-bass have declined. In conjunction with these declines, declines in year class strength of wild-largemouth bass were documented.

  • Fingerling Largemouth Bass Stocking at Taylorsville Lake – Fin-clipped largemouth bass, averaging 4.2-4.5 inches were stocked at Taylorsville Lake in the fall of each year from 1988-1992 at densities ranging from 9.8-27.8 fish/acre. Survival from age 0 to age 1 was inversely related to the number of bass stocked. Electrofishing catch of each size group of 15.0 in bass increased significantly as a result of the stockings; no significant increases were detected in the electrofishing catch of 15.0 in fish. After five years of stocking, stocked bass accounted for 37.6% (<8.0 in), 18.2% (8.0-11.9 in), 24.1% (12.0-14.9 in), 14.9% (15.0 in), and 24.5% (total catch) of the spring 1993 electrofishing catch of each size group. Contribution of the stocked fish in the electrofishing catch declined below significant levels by the second spring following the cessation of stocking. Although significant increases were found in only the angler’s catch and release of 8.0-11.9 in bass, the stocked fish did account for 14.4% of the 12.0-14.9 in and 11.5% of the 15.0 in bass caught and released by anglers and 11.6% of those harvested from 1990-1995. Contribution of stocked bass to the angler’s creel in terms of both catch and release and harvest, however, declined rapidly after 1995, three years after stocking ceased. Our results indicate that the five-year stocking program at Taylorsville Lake enhanced largemouth bass populations at the lake and resulted in increases in the angler’s creel, but once stocking ceased, their contribution declined rapidly. Stocking programs should consider benefits derived from increases in the catch and release portion of the angler’s creel in cost/benefit evaluations as this program resulted in a 1 to 3.9 cost/benefit ratio for the catch and release fishery.
  • Lake Cumberland Tailwater Trout Investigations– Research and management activities have increased on the 75-mile long Lake Cumberland tailwater. Results of a 1995 study on the dispersal of stocked trout are being used to optimize trout stocking practices. Stocking rates of rainbow trout have been increased in the upper reaches of the tailwater where most of the catch and harvest of trout occurs.

    Kentucky is trying to develop the trophy aspects of the fishery. Current research is examining the effects of regulations designed to increase the numbers of larger brown. Brown trout are now protected with restrictive size and creel limits (1 brown trout per day >20 inches). The allocation of brown trout has been increased in lower sections of the river, away from high harvest areas. Changes in the number of large trout over the next several years are being examined using electrofishing, snorkeling, and creel surveys.

    In addition to the normal stocking of 30,000 eight-inch browns, experimental annual stockings of 30,000-50,000 fingerlings will be done for the next several years. We are also evaluating the success of the fingerlings by identifying both size groups of stocked fish with wire microtags. In 1997, we successfully tagged and fin-clipped 30,000 brown trout which were stocked in early April. Approximately 60,000 fingerling were marked and stocked over shoal areas by boat in early July. Last year was the first time the Fisheries Division has stocked these brown trout from boats. This was done to increase the dispersal of these fish and to curtail poaching of freshly stocked fish that normally concentrate at the access points. It is hoped that the fingerlings will imprint on shoal areas and return to spawning as adults. The success of fingerling stocking will be determined by looking at the numbers of these tagged fish in annual electrofishing surveys.

    Several water quality problems currently preclude natural reproduction of trout. The major factor is believed to be the radical flow fluctuations. The Fisheries Division has engaged in discussions with the Army Corps of Engineers about modifying flows to increase access for anglers and to increase habitat available for trout although the Corps is resistant to flow modifications at this time. A second problem is low dissolved oxygen during the late summer and fall. This problem is expected to increase as Lake Cumberland ages. The Fisheries Division hopes to persuade the Corps to remedy this problem in the near future.

  • Walleye Found in Kentucky – Mitochondrial DNA analysis of 8 walleye collected from the Rockcastle River confirmed the existence of a distinct walleye stock in Kentucky. Dr. Neil Billington (Southern Illinois University) said that all of the eight walleyes from the Rockcastle River exhibited a divergent walleye mtDNA haplotype (38) that has not been detected in any other North American walleye population and that serves to separate this population as a distinct walleye stock. This walleye stock is apparently the native “old-river walleye” stock. Dr. Billington is currently analyzing 8 additional walleye from the Rockcastle River and 3 walleye from the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River to determine their genetic haplotype. Native walleye had presumed to be extirpated and Kentucky began walleye restoration efforts in the 1970’s with a Lake Erie strain. Future management options have not been formulated. Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of the report on the 8 walleye analyzed to date should contact John Williams at 606-549-1332.

Oklahoma Reservoir Research Projects – Gene Gilliland (405) 325-7288

  • F-41-R-20 Factors Influencing Fish Populations in Oklahoma, Oklahoma Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater
    • Project 19: Distribution, Abundance and Reproductive Activity of Paddlefish in the Arkansas River: Bill Fisher (405) 744-6342. – This is an evaluation of the paddlefish population in Keystone Reservoir, a mainstem impoundment at the confluence of the Arkansas and Cimarron Rivers. Tagging and ultrasonic telemetry is being used to assist in determining fish movements and identifying spawning areas in the rivers.
    • Project 20: Evaluation of a Differential Harvest Regulation on Black Bass Populations in Skiatook Reservoir, Oklahoma: Bill Fisher (405) 744-6342. – This is an evaluation of the effectiveness of a new (1997) “no minimum length limit, 15 per day creel limit” on spotted bass on a reservoir where a 14-inch minimum length limit, six per day creel limit exists for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Electrofishing and creel surveys are being used to monitor changes in black bass population structure and angler harvest. Two additional evaluations are being conducted by ODWC personnel on lakes Tenkiller and Broken Bow where harvest of largemouth and smallmouth bass are regulated with 13 to 16-inch slot length limits.
    • Project 21: Genetic Structure and Age & Growth of Smallmouth Bass in Two Oklahoma Reservoirs: Tony Echelle (405) 744-9681. – Genetic markers are being identified to distinguish among native Neosho and Ouachita strains of smallmouth bass and the introduced “reservoir” strain. Populations in Lakes Tenkiller and Broken Bow will be analyzed to determine the introgression from one-time stockings of reservoir strain smallmouth into reservoirs that impound native smallmouth bass drainages.
  • F-50-R-4 Fish Research for Oklahoma Waters, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Fishery Research Laboratory, Norman
    • Project 1: Evaluation of Genetic Status of Oklahoma Largemouth Bass Populations: Gene Gilliland (405) 325-7288. – Ten years of electrophoretic information will be used to evaluate Florida largemouth bass stocking protocols. Geographic and climatic influences, biological and physico-chemical variables will be compared to determine the most effective strategy for stocking FLMB in Oklahoma waters. The final report is in preparation.
    • Project 3: Effects of Minimum Length Limit and Daily Creel Reductions on White Crappie Population Structure and Angler Creel on Arbuckle Reservoir: Jeff Boxrucker (405) 325-7288. – Nine years of pre-length limit data and six years of trap-net data following implementation of the 10-inch length limit are being analyzed. Size and age structure of the crappie population improved. Angler catch and harvest has been increasing since the lows seen prior to the length limit. The final report is in preparation.
    • Project 4: Effects of Minimum Length Limit and Daily Creel Reductions on White Crappie Population Structure and Angler Creel on Ft. Supply Reservoir: Jeff Boxrucker (405) 325-7288. – A 10-inch minimum length limit on crappie was removed after six years. Although numbers of quality and preferred-size crappie increased in the trap-net samples, anglers were dissatisfied with the fishery. Crappie population structure and angler harvest will be monitored through 1998.
    • Project 7: Flathead Catfish Electrofishing Evaluation: Ken Cunningham (405) 325-7288. – An evaluation of how environmental and temporal variables affect flathead catfish electrofishing catch rate in reservoirs and if a “chase boat” is necessary to collect sufficient data. Results suggest highest catch rates are obtained in early summer over rock and rip-rap substrates and a chase boat is not necessary. The final report is in preparation.
    • Project 10: Angler Survey: Evaluation of Mailing License Renewal Notices: Greg Summers (405) 325-7288. – A pilot project is underway to determine the feasibility of using the ODWC experimental license renewal program (anglers are mailed license renewal applications) to collect human dimension data.
  • H-1-4 Evaluation of Beneficial Water Level Manipulations on Hugo Reservoir: Contact Greg Summers (405) 325-7288

    The US Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station is funding this six-year project which began in 1995 with two years of normal pool operation followed by two years with a seasonal summer pool, 4.5 feet above normal. The lake level is raised in May to inundate an additional 3,000 acres of terrestrial vegetation then lowered back to normal pool in August to allow the regrowth of the plant community. The final two years return to normal pool operation. Responses of phyto- and zooplankton communities, gizzard and threadfin shad, crappie and largemouth bass population are being measured with trawling, hydroacoustics, trap netting, light traps and electrofishing.

  • V-1-2 Evaluation of the Introduction of Native Aquatic Vegetation at Lake Arcadia: Contact Gene Gilliland (405) 325-7288

    This project is funded through COE Section 1135 in cooperation with the Lewisville Aquatic Ecosystems Research Facility in Texas. In summer 1997 we constructed enclosures at fifteen sites around Lake Arcadia, a 1,800 acre Corps reservoir, 15 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. We planted 22 varieties of native submergent and emergent aquatic plants. To date, American pondweed and water stargrass have been the most successful submergents and water willow and bullrush the most successful emergents. Herbivory (mostly by small turtles) has limited the spread of some of the plants. We will replant empty cages, add additional varieties in others, install additional protective fencing and wave-reducing devices in summer 1998.

  • Additional ODWC reservoir management-related activities:
    • After several years under a 16 to 22-inch trophy slot length limit for largemouth bass, former state-record producer Lake Fuqua developed a stockpile of slow-growing bass in the 15 to 20-inch range and was not producing trophy-sized bass (>8 pounds). To meet angler desires, managers have recommended that the City of Duncan implement a 20 to 26-inch slot length limit, five fish per day creel of which only one bass may be over 26 inches. This will allow harvest of the overabundant mode of fish while allowing the retention of a trophy or record-sized bass. Contact Larry Cofer, 580-529-2795
    • Dripping Springs Lake, an 1,100-acre former trophy bass producer, was drained in 1996 for dam repairs. During the drawdown, ODWC crews attempted to “rescue” bass by electrofishing. Six crews spent five days and collected only 750 bass from one to nine pounds. Additional effort was thwarted when the reservoir level dropped so low that boat ramps were no longer usable and hundreds of yards of silt and mud had to be traversed to reach the water. The lake refilled in 1997 and was restocked with northern and Florida largemouth bass, channel catfish and bluegill. Contact Garland Wright, 580-379-5408.

 Duke Power Company – Dave Coughlan (704) 875-5236

Last year we tagged 15 brown and 15 rainbow trout in Jocassee Reservoir, SC, with radio tags to allow us to track the fish during summer. Our preliminary findings indicated that the fish moved very little during the summer and were oriented near submerged trees. We will repeat this study in 1998. Fish will be tagged in March and tracked from July through September.

Hydroacoustic surveys of reservoir forage fish populations have been conducted during the fall of each (for the last five years) to arrive at population estimates. This data will be processed and summarized. Purse seine hauls were made concurrent with the hydroacoustic surveys to verify the target strength information.

We continue to use hydroacoustics (6° transducer near shorelines and in shallow coves and a 2° transducer for deeper waters) in combination with differential GPS to map reservoirs. Maps and volumetric calculations will be completed with GIS software. The data will allow our hydro system operators to get a better feel for reservoir capacity and be used in water quality models. Comparison of these GIS bathymetric maps with digitized pre-impoundment surveys from the early part of the 20th century will give us estimates of the volume of sediments in our reservoirs.

Shallow water fish habitat (vegetated, natural, sand, cobble, developed, undeveloped, and woody debris) in 11 Catawba River reservoirs has been characterized from aerial flights and verified by field surveys. This information has been requested by state resource agencies as part of the Catawba-Wateree Shoreline Management Plan. The goal of the plan is to identify and inventory shallow water fish habitat, and to eventually place developmental restrictions on certain types of habitats that are critical to spawning and recruitment of fish.

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