Glossary

  

A | B | C | D | E | F | G H I | J K L | M | N | O | P Q | R | S |T U V | W | X Y Z

A

Abundance Index -
Information obtained from samples or observations and used as a measure of the weight or number of fish which make up a stock.

Acid rain -
Natural rainfall which contains nitric and sulfuric acids due to oxides of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide discharged into the air by industries, power plants, and automobiles.

Aestivation - es·ti·va·tion
Inactivity or dormancy during drought periods.

Algae
- al-jee
Simple rootless plants that grow in bodies of water (e.g. estuaries) at rates in relative proportion to the amounts of nutrients (e.g. nitrogen and phosphorus) available in water.

Allowance
- The allowed nutrient load a source may discharge.

Amphibian
- a cold-blooded vertebrate that spends some time on land but must breed and develop into an adult in water. frogs, salamanders, and toads are amphibians.

Anadromous
- uh-nad-ruh-muh s 
Fish that spend most of their life in salt water but migrate into freshwater tributaries to spawn

Anaerobic
-
Not containing oxygen or not requiring oxygen.

Anoxic -
A condition where no oxygen is present. Much of the "anoxic zone" is anaerobic, with absolutely no oxygen, a condition in which toxic hydrogen sulfide gas is emitted in the decomposition process. 

Anthropogenic - an·thro·po·gen·ic
Of human origin.

Aquaculture
-
The farming of plants and animals that live in water (i.e. shellfish, fish, algae)

Aquatic -
Living in water.

Arachnid -
A group of animals including: spiders, ticks, scorpions, and mites that have four pairs of legs and whose body is divided into two segments.

Arthropod
-
A large group of invertebrate animals with jointed legs, including the insects, scorpions, crustaceans and spiders.

Artificial reef -
A structure aggregated from material designed to attract living aquatic organisms (i.e. oyster reef)

Autotroph
-
Any organism that is able to manufacture its own food. Most plants are autotrophs, as are many protists and bacteria. Autotrophs may be photoautotrophic, using light energy to manufacture food, or chemoautotrophic, using chemical energy.

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B

Backwater -
A still body of water or a still portion of a larger body of water, unaffected by the flow of the larger body of water. An example would be a small stagnant branch of a river.

Baseflow
-
Stream or river flows consisting entirely of groundwater contributions.

Bathymetry
-
The physical characteristics, including depth, contour, and shape of the bottom of a body of water.

Baseline
-
The numeric level of nutrient load at a particular point in time that serves to establish nurtient reduction goals and allowances.

Bay Scapes
-
Environmentally-sound landscapes benefiting people, wildlife, and the Chesapeake Bay. They are low-input landscapes, requiring less mowing, less fertilizing, and less pesticide use. They help to protect the water quality in our streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. Along with reducing pollution, BayScapes provide diverse habitats for songbirds, small mammals, butterflies, and other creatures.

Benthic macroinvertebrates -
Macroinvertebrates are large, generally soft-bodied organisms that lack backbones. Benthic macro-invertebrates live in or on the bottom sediment in aquatic environments.

Benthos - A group of organisms, most often invertebrates, that live in or on the bottom in aquatic habitats (such as clams that live in the sediments) which are typically immotile or of limited motility or range.

Best Management Practices (BMP) -
A practice or combination of practices that provide the most effective and practicable means of controlling point and nonpoint pollutants at levels compatible with environmental quality goals.

Bilateral Symmetry -
A body design found in most animals in which if an imaginary plane divided the body into left and right halves, each side would be a mirror image of the other..

Bioaccumulation
-
The uptake and storage of chemicals (e.g. DDTs, PCBs) from the environment by animals and plants. Uptake can occur through feeding or direct absorption from water or sediments.

Bioassay -
A simple biological test that uses an indicator organism to measure the potency of a given substance in a biological system. An example of a bioassay would be a test that measures algal growth in response to different nutrient concentrations.

Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) -
A temperature dependent process in which the ammonia nitrogen present in raw wastewater is converted by bacteria first to nitrate nitrogen and then to nitrogen gas.

Biomass -
The quantity of living matter, expressed a concentration or weight per unit area.

Bioretention -
Bioretention sites, also called "Rain Gardens," are an innovative method for stormwater management that retains stormwater on site and uses plants and layers of soil, sand, and mulch to reduce the amount of nutrients and other pollutants that enter local waterways.

Biota -
The flora and fauna of a region.

Bloom
-
 A population burst of phytoplankton that remains within a defined part of the water column

Bog
-
A wetland that has poorly drained acidic peat-soil dominated by sedges and sphagnum moss.

Brackish -
Somewhat salty water, as in an estuary.

Buyer
-
An entity that purchases nutrient credits.

Bycatch
-
Fishes or other animals caught by accident in fishing gear. Bycatch is usually thrown back dead or dying.

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C

Cap - The total nutrient load that is allowed to be discharged into a given water body. The cap is the baseline minus the amount of load reduction needed to meet the goal. The cap is equal, or greater than, the sum of the allowances.

Cap load
- Cap loads are the maximum pollutant load of nutrients and sediments that can be allowed.

Catadromous - Fish that live in freshwater and migrate to saltwater to spawn (i.e. American eel).

Centrarchidae - Cen·trar·chi·dae 
Sunfish family, include Largemouth, spotted and smallmouth "black bass", bluegill and both black and white crappies 

The sunfish family are generally deep-bodied and compressed laterally. Their fins often have both soft rays and stiff spines that provide protection from predators.  The caudal fin (tail) is notched or slightly forked. Paired pectoral and pelvic fins are located towards the front of the fish. Sunfish generally thrive in warm water, fertile lakes with abundant shoreline aquatic plants or other protective cover within which they can easily maneuver.

All sunfish are nest builders, and their saucer-shaped nests can be frequently observed along the shoreline of ponds, lakes and streams in late spring. These nests usually consist of a circular depression in silt, sand or gravel that is lighter in color than the surrounding substrate because an adult male has consistently scraped silt, algae or other organic material from accumulating within the nest area. An active, nest-guarding male can often be observed swimming within the nest vicinity, guarding both eggs and newly-hatched young.
A few days after hatching, the young emerge from the nest, at which time the guarding parent leaves them to care for themselves.

All sunfish are carnivorous. Small species and young individuals of larger species eat small invertebrates (such as insects, crustaceans, and mollusks) and small fish. Larger individuals feed more frequently on fish and crayfish. The maximum size of sunfish varies greatly; the longear sunfish seldom reaches 5 inches or weighs more than a few ounces, whereas the largemouth bass may reach 2 feet and exceed 10 pounds.

Channelisation - Artificial modification of a watercourse to ensure maximum flow and minimise flooding.

Chlorophyll a -
A pigment contained in plants that is used to turn light energy into food. Chlorophyll also gives plants their green color.

Cilia -
a tiny projecting thread, found with many others on a cell or microscopic organism, that beats rhythmically to aid the movement of a fluid past the cell or movement of the organism through liquid.

Class -
Subdivision of a phylum containing a group of related orders.

Clupeid - kloo-pee-id
Any of various widely distributed soft-finned fishes of the family Clupeidae, which includes the herrings, menhadens, shad and sardines

Coastal plain
- The level land with generally finer and fertile soils downstream of the piedmont and fall line, where tidal influence is felt in the rivers.

Coelom - Body cavity or space between the body wall and the digestive tract.

Coliform bacteria - A group of bacteria primarily found in human and animal intestines and wastes. These bacteria are widely used as indicator organisms to show the presence of such wastes in water and the possible presence of pathogenic (disease-producing) bacteria. Escherichia coli (E. coli) is one of the fecal coliform bacteria widely used for this purpose.

Commensal
- Having benefit for one member of a two-species association but neither positive nor negative effect on the other.

Congeneric - Belonging to the same genus.

Conspecific - Belonging to the same species.

Consumer - Any organism which must consume other organisms (living or dead) to satisfy its energy needs.

Contaminant
- Anything that to make something impure, unclean, or polluted, especially by mixing harmful impurities into it or by putting it in contact with something harmful.

Copepod
- A type of small planktonic crustacean. Copepods are a major group within the mesozooplankton, and are both important grazers of phytoplankton and food for fish.

Credits
- The amount of nutrient load reduced below the allowance.

Crustaceans
- The class of aquatic Arthropods including copepods, isopods, amphipods, barnacles, shrimp, and crabs which are characterized by having jointed appendage and gills.

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D

Demersal - refers to fish eggs which are neutrally or negatively buoyant and sink to the substrate.

Denitrification
- The conversion of nitrite and nitrate nitrogen (after nitrification) to inert nitrogen gas. This treatment process requires that little or no oxygen be present in the system and that an organic food source be provided to foster growth of another type of bacteria. The organic food source can be either recycled waste activated sludge or methanol. The resultant nitrogen gas is released to the atmosphere.

Designated use
- An element of a water quality standard, expressed as a narrative statement, describing an appropriate intended human and/or aquatic life objective for a water body. Designated uses for a water body may include: recreation, shellfishing, water supply and/or aquatic life habitat.

De-snagging - Removing logs or branches from a watercourse.

Detritus
- Accumulated organic debris from dead organisms, often an important source of nutrients in a food web.

Detrivore
- Any organism which obtains most of its nutrients from the detritus in an ecosystem.

Diadromous - Refers to fishes that migrate between fresh water and marine environments in either direction.

Diatoms
- Microscopic algae with plate like structures composed of silica. Diatoms are considered a good food source for zooplankton.

Dinoflagellate - Algae of the order Dinoflagellata.

Dischargers
– The sources that emit, give off, or dispose of a gas or liquid.

Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen (DIN) -
An important nutrient for the growth of plants. DIN is nitrogen that is readily usable by plants.

Dissolved Oxygen -
Microscopic bubbles of oxygen that are mixed in the water and occur between water molecules. Dissolved oxygen is necessary for healthy lakes, rivers, and estuaries. Most aquatic plants and animals need oxygen to survive. Fish will drown in water when the dissolved oxygen levels get too low. The absence of dissolved oxygen in water is a sign of possible pollution.

Diurnal -
Active during daylight.

Diversity
- An ecological measure of the variety of organisms present in a habitat.

Dorsal
- anatomy of or on the back: relating to or situated on the back of the body.

Dry Deposition -
Atmospheric deposition that occurs when particles settle to a surface, collide with and attach to a surface (adsorption) or are absorbed.

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E

Echinoderm
- a marine invertebrate animal that has a radially symmetrical body, tube feet, and a system of calcareous plates under the skin. Starfish, sea urchins, sea lilies, and sea cucumbers are echinoderms.

Ecology
- The study of interrelationships between living things and to their environment 

Ecosystem - All the organisms in a particular region and the environment in which they live. The elements of an ecosystem interact with each other in some way, and so depend on each other either directly or indirectly.

Effluent
- The discharge to a body of water from a defined source, generally consisting of a mixture of waste and water from industrial or municipal facilities.

Emergent Wetland - A wetland dominated by nonwoody, soft-stemmed plants.

Endangered
- A species that is in immediate danger of becoming extinct and needs protection to survive.

Endemic species -
A species that is restricted in its distribution to a particular locality or region.

Environment
- The place in which an organism lives, and the circumstances under which it lives. Environment includes measures like moisture and temperature, as much as it refers to the actual physical place where an organism is found.

Environmental data
- any measurements or information that describe environmental processes, location, or conditions; ecological or health effects and consequences; or the performance of environmental technology. For EPA, environmental data include information collected directly from measurements, produced from models, and compiled from other sources such as data bases or the literature.

Environmental technology
- an all-inclusive term used to describe pollution control devices and systems, waste treatment processes and storage facilities, and site remediation technologies and their components that may be utilized to remove pollutants or contaminants from or prevent them from entering the environment. Examples include wet scrubbers (air), soil washing (soil), granulated activated carbon unit (water), and filtration (air, water). Usually, this term applies to hardware-based systems; however, it also applies to methods or techniques used for pollution prevention, pollutant reduction, or containment of contamination to prevent further movement of the contaminants, such as capping, solidification or vitrification, and biological treatment.

Epifaunal
- Plants, animals and bacteria that are attached to the hard bottom or substrate (for example, to rocks or debris); are capable of movement; or that live on the sediment surface.

Epiphyte
- A plant which grows upon another plant. The epiphyte does not "eat" the plant on which it grows, but merely uses the plant for structural support, or as a way to get off the ground and into the canopy environment.

Epiphytic
- Substances that grow or accumulate on the leaves of submerged aquatic plants. This material can include algae, bacteria, detritus, and sediment.

Estuarine species -
A permanent resident of an estuary. Also called a resident species.

Estuary
- A semienclosed body of water that has a free connection with the open sea and within which seawater (from the ocean) is diluted measurably with freshwater that is derived from land drainage (i.e. the Chesapeake Bay). Brackish estuarine waters are decreasingly salty in the upstream direction and vice versa. The ocean tides are projected upstream to the fall lines.

Eutrophic
- Describes an aquatic system with high nutrient concentrations. These nutrient concentrations fuel algal growth. This algae eventually dies and decomposes, with reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water.

Eutrophication - The fertilization of surface waters by nutrients that were previously scarce. Eutrophication through nutrient and sediment inflow is a natural aging process by which warm shallow lakes evolve to dry land. Human activities are greatly accelerating the process. The most visible consequence is the proliferation of algae. The increased growth of algae and aquatic weeds can degrade water quality.

Extinct species
- A species which has disappeared from existence due to either natural or human-induced means (opposite of extant).

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F

Fall Line
- A line joining the waterfalls on several rivers that marks the point where each river descends from the upland to the lowland and marks the limit of navigability of each river.

Fecundity - The number of eggs produced per female per unit time (often: per spawning season)

Filter feeder -
An organism which filters food from the environment via a straining mechanism (such as gills)(i.e. barnacle)

Food chain / food web
- The network of feeding relationships in a community as a series of links of trophic levels, such as primary producers, herbivores, and primary carnivores. Includes all interactions of predator and prey, along with the exchange of nutrients into and out of the soil. These interactions connect the various members of an ecosystem, and describe how energy passes from one organism to another.

Freshet - An increase of water flow into an estuary during the late winter or spring, owing to increased precipitation and snow melt in the watershed.

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GHI

Habitat
- The place and conditions in which an organism lives.

Hermaphroditic
- An organism having both sexes: a plant or animal having both male and female reproductive organs and secondary sexual characteristics.

Histology - The study of tissue sectioned as a thin slice, using a microtome. It can be described as microscopic anatomy. The photographing of stained cells is called histography. Histology is an essential tool of biology

Hydrological
- The scientific study of the properties, distribution, and effects of water on the earth's surface, in the soil and underlying rocks, and in the atmosphere.

Hypoxic
- A condition where only very low levels of oxygen are present.

Insectivorous - Feeding on insects

Intertidal
- The area of shore located between high and low tides.

Introduced Species
- Species which have been intentionally or inadvertently brought into a region or area. Also called exotic species.

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JKL

Jetty -
a wall or other barrier built out into a body of water to shelter a harbor, protect a shoreline from erosion, and/or redirect water currents

Larva
- A discrete stage in many species, beginning with zygote formation and ending with metamorphosis.

Light attenuation -
Absorption, scattering, or reflection of light by water, chlorophyll a, dissolved substances, or particulate matter. Light attenuation reduces the amount of light available to submerged aquatic vegetation.

Littoral zone -
Area between high and low water marks on a body of water.

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M

Macro-organism -
An organism visible without the aid of a microscope.

Macrophyte
- An individual alga large enough to be seen easily with the unaided eye.

Macroplankton
- Planktonic organisms that are 200-2,000 micrometers in size.

Marine
- Refers to the ocean.

Marsh
- An emergent wetland that is usually seasonally flooded or wet, and often dominated by one or a few plant species.

Mesohaline - Pertaining to moderately brackish water with low range salinities (from 5-18 parts per thousand)

Mesotrophic
- Describes an aquatic system somewhere between eutrophic (nutrient enriched) and oligotrophic (nutrient poor).

Micro-organism -
An organism requiring magnification to see/study (microscopic).

Micron -
A unit of measure equal to one thousandth of a millimeter

Migratory -
Describing groups of organisms which move from one habitat to another on a regular or seasonal basis.

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N

Native Species
- Species which have lived in a particular region or area for an extended period of time.

Niche - A general term referring to the range of environmental space occupied by a species.

Nitrification
– the process to which bacterial populations under aerobic conditions, gradually oxidize ammonium to nitrate with the intermediate formation of nitrite. Biological nitrification is a key step in nitrogen removal in wastewater treatment systems.

Nitrogen
- (N) is used primarily by plants and animals to synthesize protein. Nitrogen enters the ecosystem in several chemical forms and also occurs in other dissolved or particulate forms, such as tissues of living and dead organisms.

Nutrients
- Compounds of nitrogen and phosphorus dissolved in water which are essential to both plants and animals. Too much nitrogen and phosphorus act as pollutants and can lead to unwanted consequences - primarily algae blooms that cloud the water and rob it of oxygen critical to most forms of aquatic life. Sewage treatment plants, industries, vehicle exhaust, acid rain, and runoff from agricultural, residential and urban areas are sources of nutrients entering the Bay.

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O

Oligohaline -
Pertaining to moderately brackish water with low range salinities (from .5-5 parts per thousand)

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PQ

Parasite -
A plant or animal which lives on or in an organism of another species from which it derives its nutrition and/or protection; usually without benefit to the host and often with harmful effects.

pH
- Measure of the acidity or basicity of water (-log10 of the activity of hydrogen ions in water).

Phosphorus
- ((P) A key nutrient in the Bay's ecosystem, phosphorus occurs in dissolved organic and inorganic forms, often attached to particles of sediment. This nutrient is a vital component in the process of converting sunlight into usable energy forms for the production of food and fiber. It is also essential to cellular growth and reproduction for organisms such as phytoplankton and bacteria. Phosphates, the inorganic form are preferred, but organisms will use other forms of phosphorus when phosphates are unavailable.

Photic zone -
Layer of a body of water that recieves ample sunlight for photosynthesis (usually less than 100m).

Photosynthsis
- The process by which plants convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates and oxygen. The carbohydrates are then available for use as energy by the plant or other consuming organisms. (CO2+ H2O +SUNLIGHT= C6H12O6 + O2 ). This process is also referred to as "primary production."

Phytoplankton
- Plankton are usually very small organisms that cannot move independently of water currents. Phytoplankton are any plankton that are capable of making food via photosynthesis.

Plankton - Small or microscopic algae and organisms associated with surface water and the water column.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH)
- a chemical compound composed of fused six carbon rings.

Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) - a chemical compound composed of a bi-phenyl group and chlorine atoms.

Polyhaline - Pertaining to waters with salinities of 18-30 parts per thousand.

ppt
- Parts per thousand (used as a measurement of salinity).

Primary Producers
- organisms, such as algae, that convert solar energy to organic substances through the molecule, chlorophyll. Primary producers serve as a food source for higher organisms.

Quality Assurance (QA)
- an integrated system of management activities involving planning, implementation, documentation, assessment, reporting, and quality improvement to ensure that a process, item, or service is of the type and quality needed and expected by the customer.

Quality Assurance Project Plan
- a document describing in comprehensive detail the necessary quality assurance, quality control, and other technical activities that must be implemented to ensure that the results of the work performed will satisfy the stated performance criteria.

Quality Control (QC)
- the overall system of technical activities that measures the attributes and performance of a process, item, or service against defined standards to verify that they meet the stated requirements established by the customer; operational techniques and activities that are used to fulfill requirements for quality.

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R

Resident - Species which are permanent living members of a particular area.

Riparian area
- Riparian refers to the area of land adjacent to a body of water, stream, river, marsh, or shoreline. Riparian areas form the transition between the aquatic and the terrestrial environment.

Riparian Forest Buffers
- An area of trees, usually accompanied by shrubs and other vegetation, that is adjacent to a body of water which is managed to maintain the integrity of stream channels and shorelines, to reduce the impact of upland sources of pollution by trapping, filtering, and converting sediments, nutrients, and other chemicals, and to supply food, cover, and thermal protection to fish and other wildlife.

Roe -
Fish eggs, especially while still massed in the ovarian membrane; called caviar.

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S

Salinity - A measure of the salt concentration of water. Higher salinity means more dissolved salts. Usually measured in parts per thousand (ppt).

Salinity regime
- A portion of an estuary distinguished by the amount of tidal influence and salinity of the water. The major salinity regimes are, from least saline to most saline:

  • Tidal Fresh – Describes waters with salinity between 0 and 0.5 parts per thousand (ppt). These areas are at the extreme reach of tidal influence.
  • Oligohaline – Describes waters with salinity between 0.5 and 5 ppt. These areas are typically in the upper portion of an estuary.
  • Mesohaline – Describes waters with salinity between 5 and 18 ppt. These areas are typically in the middle portion of an estuary.
  • Polyhaline – Describes waters with salinity between 18 and 30 ppt. These areas are typically in the lower portion of an estuary, where the ocean and estuary meet.

Scavenger - An opportunitic animal that feeds on decaying plants and animals or scraps of food abandon by other animals.

Scute(s) -
Large dermal keratinous plates (i.e. the bony armor of a sturgeon).

Sediment -
matter that settles and accumulates on the bottom of a body of water or waterway.

Siltation -
The process by which sedimentary material, or silt, is suspended and deposited in a body of water.

Spawn -
To release eggs and/or sperm into water.

Species
- A population or group of populations that are in reproductive contact but are reproductively isolated from all other populations.

Spicule
- Small hard needle-like projections, often composed of calcium, silicon and used for support in certain parts of some invertebrates such as sponges and corals.

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV)
- rooted vegetation that grows under water in shallow zones where light penetrates.

Substrate - "Supporting surface" on which a sessile organism lives and grows. The substrate may simply provide structural support, or may provide water and nutrients. A substrate may be inorganic, such as rock or soil, or it may be organic, such as wood.

Suspended sediments
- Particles of soil, sediment, living material, or detritus suspended in the water column.

Storm Flow
- rainfall runoff that reaches a stream channel during, or soon after a rainfall event that causes high rates of discharge.

Stratification
- The formation, accumulation, or deposition of materials in layers, such as layers of fresh water overlying higher salinity water (salt water) in estuaries.

Swamp - a wetland dominated by woodsy vegetation.

Swim Bladder - an organ regulating the buoyancy in most teleost (bony) fishes.
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TUV

Thermocline
- A specific depth at which there is a layer of water where the temperature changes dramatically. Warmer surface water is separated from the cooler deep water. This temperature gradient results in the formation of a density barrier.

Toxicant -
A poisionous or toxic agent which is harmful to living resources either terrestrial or aquatic.

Tributary
- A body of water flowing into a larger body of water.

Trophic Level - Layer in the food chain in where one group of organisms serves as the source of nutrition of another group of animals.

Turbidity -
The decreased clarity in a body of water due to the suspension of silt or sedimentary material.

Use attainability analysis (UAA)
- A UAA is a structured scientific assessment of the factors affecting attainment of the designated use component of water quality standards, based on physical, chemical, biological, and/or economic factors.

Vertebrate
- Animals with a backbone including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

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W

Watershed
- a region bounded at the periphery by physical barriers that cause water to part and ultimately drain to a particular body of water.

Wetland -
Low areas such as swamps, tidal flats, and marshes which retain moisture.

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XYZ

Year Class - Most fish species in temperate waters (like those found in the Chesapeake Bay and offshore Virginia) reproduce during a relatively short (one or two month) period each year. That period may be different for each species. Fisheries scientists refer to all of the fish of any species hatched during one annual spawning period as a year class. For mathematical purposes, fishery analysts often treat members of the year class as if all fish were hatched on one day.

Zooplankton
- a community of floating, often microscopic animals that inhabit aquatic environments. Unlike phytoplankton, zooplankton cannot produce their own food, and so are consumers.

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