Arkansas Striped Bass Research Study

Since being introduced into Arkansas lakes, striped bass have been accused of eating popular sport-fish.
In response to this concern, numerous food habit studies have been conducted in Arkansas.

These research articles have proved that predation on Bass, Crappie and other sport fish is insignificant.

Beaver Lake Striped Bass food habit study:

  • Fourt (1985) examined 104 striped bass stomachs and found approximately 95% f the content was shad. Most of these shad were 1-4 inches in size. Seventeen hybrid stripers were also examined for stomach content. These also contained about 93% shad.

Lake Hamilton Striped Bass food habit study:

  • Filipek (1984) found during a food habit study of Lake Hamilton, Arkansas, the striped bass diet consisted of 92.8 percent shad with the remainder of the diet consisting of rainbow trout, sunfish, minnows, and crayfish.
  • During the Food study period of (2-years) Lake Hamilton was under a winter drawdown of 9-feet which further concentrated prey species with the stripers.
  • Sample size consisted of 116 adult striped bass which were all examined for stomach contents.
  • The same study documented the hybrid striped bass also prefers mainly shad with a slightly more diverse diet including crayfish and minnows.
  • Shad accounted for nearly 82% of the hybrid diet.

Striped bass reproduce in the Arkansas River and still the river has world renown Black Bass fishing.

Striped Bass prefer the deep water of Arkansas's Lakes.

A Report on difficulties of establishing a population Striped Bass because of the mortality caused by Black Bass eating the striper fry.
The impacts of stocking stress and largemouth bass predation on the survivorship of juvenile Striped Bass stocked in Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia.

Alabama  Striped Bass stocking

Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries began stocking Atlantic-strain striped bass on a limited basis in Lake Martin on the Tallapoosa River in 1965. The goal behind the stockings was to diversify the fishery and to provide anglers the opportunity to catch a trophy fish.

The program expanded in 1969 to five reservoirs and eventually peaked to include 24 reservoirs -- seven of which are still stocked with striped bass annually.

Weiss was stocked with striped bass in 1972, 74, 80, 85 and 86. During those years, a total of 131,535 Atlantic-strain stripers were introduced.

Concurrent with the Alabama stockings, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources  stocked approximately 4.7 million Atlantic-strain striped bass in the upper Coosa River drainage basin between 1973-92.

Striped bass began appearing more frequently in angler creels and standardized gill net samples in Weiss Lake during the early 1990s. Speculation at the time was that either natural reproduction was occurring or emigration was taking place from reservoirs upstream in Georgia.

A review of Georgia  striped bass stocking records indicated that Georgia stocked Gulf-strain striped bass exclusively in the upstream impoundments of Carters and Allatoona in 1993-94. Electrofishing samples in March 1994 netted four one-year-old striped bass near the Alabama-Georgia border. Mitochondrial-DNA analysis revealed that all four were Atlantic-strain fish. These results prompted Alabama to conclude that natural reproduction of striped bass was occurring in the upper Coosa River. Since 1997, Dr. Bill Davin (Berry College, Rome, GA) has documented that striped bass are indeed spawning in the Oostanaula River near Rome. He has collected thousands of eggs heading southwesterly into the Coosa River toward Alabama.

Alabama  Food diet study of Striped Bass

The increasing striped bass population in Weiss Lake prompted Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries to conduct a food diet study. Four hundred fifty striped bass stomachs were examined.

Of those 450, one hundred fifteen had empty stomachs.

The remaining 335 stripers had a total of 2,699 prey items in their stomachs; 2,522 were shad (93.4 percent)

160 were unidentifiable fish remains (5.9 percent)

 6 were crappie (0.2 percent)

 5 were bluegill (0.2 percent)

3 were minnows (0.1 percent)

2 were freshwater drum (0.07 percent)

 and one was a crawfish (0.04 percent).

These results were similar to studies conducted in Oklahoma, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Arkansas, Utah and Tennessee that concluded that sport fish are not a major prey item of striped bass.

Alabama was also concerned that the influx of striped bass would impact the native sport fishes through competition for food.

Data collected by Auburn University and Alabama personnel have shown no adverse affects on the crappie or largemouth bass populations in Weiss Lake.

Also, Alabama has documented movement of these naturally reproduced striped bass from northwest Georgia all the way down the Coosa River to Lake Jordan.


Striped Bass Predation on Bass and Crappie
Prepared by Brett Hobbs Dist. 8 (Hot Springs)
Ralph Fourt & Ron Moore Dist. 1 (Rogers)
Striped Bass are a open water species preferring the deep portions of Arkansas Lakes. Ever since their introduction into inland lakes, striped bass have been suspected of preying directly on popular sportfish. In response to this concern, numerous food habit studies have been conducted in several Southeastern reservoirs.
Repeatedly these studies indicate striped bass are extremely unlikely to eat black bass or other game fish. (Miranda, et al. 1998).
A nine-year study (Nash, et al. 1987) dealt with the establishment of a striped bass population in Lake Wateree, South Carolina.

Largemouth bass growth, abundance, and condition were not detrimentally affected by the striped bass.

The largemouth bass length-weight relationship did not change after striped bass were introduced.

During a Lake Texoma study (Harper & Namminga, 1986) it was determined after establishment of a striped bass population, changes in the abundance of several other species, including black bass and crappies, was the result of periodic strong year classes of those species.

Striped bass predation did affect the size distribution of the gizzard shad population but had no apparent influence on native predator or prey species other than shad.

Another Lake Texoma analysis of striped bass interaction with black bass (Matthews and Hill, 1986) included the analysis of 250 striped bass stomachs.

The diet of these stripers was mostly shad.

The second most abundant food item was found to be inland silversides.

In parts of spring and early summer stripers also fed heavily on insect larvae as they were abundant at that time.

Striped bass study on Lake Powell, Arizona:

(Gustaveson, et al. 1985) indicated a virtual absence of a threadfin shad forage base.

Under these adverse conditions striped bass in Powell were observed to barely feed (many documented with empty stomachs) and their condition withered to near starvation levels.

The recorded condition for the striped bass collected was the lowest on record at that time. Only the youngest stripers foraged affectivity and utilized zooplankton for their diet.

During 1982-1985 on Lake Powell a self-sustaining smallmouth bass population was established.

There was no evidence of smallmouth fingerling predation by the starving striped bass. This could be attributed to the fact the smallmouth are a littoral (shallow water) species.

Reservoirs capable of sustaining a healthy striped bass population must have sufficient thermal refuge areas for the striped bass to survive high summer water temperatures.

The striped bass also must have access to a plentiful forage base of threadfin and gizzard shad or other closely related species (alewife or herring). Landlocked striped bass have been found to be very sensitive to temperature variations within stocked waters and will sacrifice food requirements to remain in areas with cool water during the summer months (Moss, 2001).


In Arkansas, two striped bass studies have shown that predation on sportfish is insignificant.
Beaver Lake:
Fourt (1985) examined 104 striped bass stomachs and found approximately 95% of the content was shad. Most of these shad were 1-4 inches in size. Seventeen hybrid stripers were also examined for stomach content. These also contained about 93% shad.

Lake Hamilton:
Filipek (1984) found during a food habit study of Lake Hamilton, Arkansas, the striped bass diet consisted of 92.8 percent shad with the remainder of the diet consisting of rainbow trout, sunfish, minnows, and crayfish. During this period of study (2-years) Lake Hamilton was under a winter drawdown of 9-feet which further concentrated prey species with the stripers. Sample size consisted of 116 adult striped bass which were all examined for stomach contents. The same study documented the hybrid striped bass also prefers mainly shad with a slightly more diverse diet including crayfish and minnows. Shad accounted for nearly 82% of the hybrid diet.

Norris Reservoir, Tennessee:
A more recent study (Smollen, 1999) investigating striped bass food habits was conducted on Norris Reservoir, Tennessee. This study was also conducted during a winter drawdown period. In this study stomach contents of 85 striped bass were examined. Over 99% of the striped bass stomach content was alewives and threadfin/gizzard shad.

A study by the Mississippi Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit (Miranda, et al. 1998) assessed if the predation of forage species by striped bass limited the native game fish population. Results of this study indicated striped bass in Norris Reservoir, Tennessee could potentially compete with coexisting game fishes for food if the prey-supply-to-predator-demand ratio is low. Miranda estimated by discontinuing stocking of striped bass, the remaining predator population biomass could increase by 5-10% total weight.

Striped bass reproduction has only been documented in the Arkansas River as the striped bass eggs must stay suspended in flowing water until hatching. The AGFC must stock fingerlings at interval to keep year-classes present in our reservoirs. Viable striped bass fisheries exist in Arkansas in Lakes Hamilton, Lake Greeson, Catherine, Lake Ouachita, Beaver, and Lake Norfork.

Important to note is these fisheries also have strong black bass populations. Smallmouth bass have been successfully re-introduced into Beaver Lake while sustaining the stocking of striped bass.

As stated in the draft AG&FC Striped Bass Management Plan (Fourt, et al., 2000) of vital importance is the accurate evaluation of shad densities in our striped bass waters. The shad prey base should be regularly monitored for trends as there can be competition for the same prey species between striped bass and black basses .

Bibliography:

Filipek, S. & L. Claybrook, 1984. Stripers and Hybrids, What Do They Really Eat? Arkansas Game and Fish Magazine. Volume 15, Issue 4. September/October 1984. pp 8-9.

Fourt, R., D. Brader, & S. Wooldridge, 2000. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Striped Bass Management Plan, November 20, 2000 (Draft).

Fourt, R.A., 1985. Age, Growth, Food Habits, Angler Harvest, Tournament Catches, and Stocking of Striped Bass and Hybrid-Striped Bass in Beaver Reservoir, 1985. Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, In-House Report.

Gustaveson, W.A., B.L. Bonebrake, S.J. Scott, and J.E. Johnson 1985. Lake Powell Fisheries Investigations. Publication No. 86-8. Utah Dept. of Nat. Res. 1596 West North Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84116.

Harper, J.L. and H.E. Namminga 1986. Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. P.O. Box 53465 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Pages 156-165 in G.E. Hall and M.J. Van Den Avyle, editors. Reservoir Management Strategies for the 80's. Reservoir Committee, Southern Division American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland 1986.

Matthews, W.J. and L.G. Hill, 1986. Annual Report For Year 1 for the Project "Potential Interactions Between Striped Bass and Black Bass in Reservoir Environments". Sponsored by the Bass Research Foundation. University of Oklahoma Biological Station, Kingston, Oklahoma 73439.

Miranda, L.E., M.T. Driscoll, and S.W. Raborn 1998. Competitive Interactions Between Striped Bass and Other Freshwater Predators. Sport Fish Restoration. Final Report October 1996- September 1998. Mississippi Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Mississippi State University. Mail Stop 9691 Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762.

Moss, J.L. 2001. Cool Striped Bass. Fisheries Section News Article. Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

Nash, V.S., W.E. Hayes, R.L. Self, and J.P. Kirk, 1987. Effect of Striped Bass Introduction in Lake Wateree, South Carolina. Proceedings of Annual Conference Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. 41: 48-54.

Smollen, Mary 1999. Food Habits of Adult Predators in Norris Reservoir during winter drawdown. M.S. Thesis, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 47pp.


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