Striped Bass and Crappie


Striped Bass Predication on Crappie

Research conducted through the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and Auburn University has shown that striped bass are not eating crappie and may even be expanding fishing options on Weiss Lake.

For eight years Dr. Michael Maceina, professor of fisheries and allied aquacultures at Auburn examining crappie reproduction on Weiss Lake. He has found that lower angler catches in the early 1990s were caused by poor crappie reproduction and in the late 1980s due to drought and lower lake levels Not Striped Bass predication.

Ample production of young crappie occurred in 1990, 1993, 1994 and 1996 and crappie fishing is now thriving again at Weiss Lake, as is fishing for largemouth bass and stripers. Biologists also examined the stripers eating habits. Dr. Michael Maceina  helped identify the prey items in captured striped bass and found that crappie are rarely eaten by stripers. 440 stripers were sampled from Weiss Lake, and of the 2,500 total prey items found in the stripers stomachs, only six were crappie.

"Those six crappie constitute a tiny fraction of the total prey items found in the fish we sampled," said Smith. He noted that 94 percent of the prey found in the stomachs of the stripers was shad.



One of the lakes in which striped bass have been stocked and are now naturally reproducing in is Weiss Lake in Alabama.
The lake may also be the most famous crappie lake in the state.
Local guides and resort owners promote Weiss Lake as "The Crappie Capitol of the World."

As good as the crappie fishing is, local fishermen began expressing concern that naturally reproducing stripers were harming the crappie population.
They feared that the stripers were feeding on the crappie and/or competing with them for food.

To answer the question, Alabama biologists conducted a study on the food habits of the lake's stripers and the condition of the crappie population.
They used gill nets to capture 463 striped bass over a 2-year period and used trap nets to catch a large number of crappie over a 10-year period.

Of the 463 striped bass stomachs, 355 had 2,699 food items in them. Shad made up 2,522 (93.4%) of the items, followed by 6 crappie, 5 sunfish (bream), 3 minnows, 2 gaspergou, and 1 crawfish. Only 160 of the food items were too-digested to be identified. Clearly, the stripers were not feeding on crappie to any great degree. However, stripers could still have been impacting crappie by competing with them for food.

To answer that question, the biologists compared crappie caught before 1993, when stripers first began naturally reproducing in any numbers, to crappie taken after 1993. No clear pattern of slower growth was found for either period.

The biologists compared crappie length to weight for both periods, as an indication of their condition or "chunkiness". Crappies from the period after 1993 were actually heavier for their length than those before 1993.
Other studies have shown that young-of-the-year crappie feed on entirely different food items than young of the year striped bass.

The biologists concluded that striped bass were having no negative effect on crappies.

They pointed out that crappie populations in Weiss Lake, as they do in many places, can vary tremendously from year to year, depending on the success of previous spawns.

These results were similar to other 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.

Anglers were also concerned that the influx of striped bass would impact the native sport fishes through competition for food. Data collected by Auburn University and ADWFF personnel have shown no adverse affects on the crappie or largemouth bass populations in Weiss Lake.
Also, ADWFF has documented movement of these naturally reproduced striped bass from northwest Georgia all the way down the Coosa River to Lake Jordan. 

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