Can We Increase The Abundance of Age-0 Black Bass By Installing Brush Structures in a Large Reservoir?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013: 9:00 AM
Izard (Statehouse Convention Center)
Michael Siepker , Missouri Department of Conservation, West Plains, MO
A.J. Pratt , Missouri Department of Conservation, West Plains, MO
Sherry Gao , Missouri Department of Conservation, Columbia, MO
Recruitment fluctuations of black bass Micropterus spp. in large reservoirs are often related to fluctuations in water levels, although the specific mechanisms driving recruitment are not known.  Eastern red cedar Juniperus virginiana brush was added to coves within Bull Shoals Lake to simulate habitat conditions present during high water events in an effort to increase numbers of nesting adult black bass and abundance of age-0 black bass.  Number of nests within each study site was documented via snorkel surveys whereas abundance of age-0 black bass and potential predators of these bass was determined via electrofishing surveys.  Number of black bass nests was greater in sites with brush compared to control sites.  However, abundance of age-0 black bass was not greater in these same sites.  Black bass congeners and sunfish Lepomis spp. were the most prevalent predators sampled, and their abundance was always greater in brush sites relative to controls; however, the magnitude of difference varied by year.  It appears that the simple addition of brush did not fully replicate habitat present during high water events and as a result, did not increase levels of black bass recruitment.