Lake Ouachita Small Mouth Bass

         

In 2016 the AGFC suspended the small mouth stocking due to low success.

Brood stock have been released into Lake Ouachita.
These fish were originally held at the Hulsey Hatchery as brood stock for spawning.

Suitable habitat sites were selected with the help of biologists from north Arkansas who had experience with smallmouth bass populations in their lakes. Subsequent monitoring of these initial stockings has shown very little success of the native, river-strain fish naturally reproducing in the lake. 

In the summer of 2002, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Andrew Hulsey Hatchery in Hot Springs received 1,700 fingerling smallmouth bass from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. These fish were spawned from brood stock at Tennessee's Norris Lake and raised at TWRA's Eagle Bend Hatchery. This particular strain of smallmouth bass is well known for its ability to thrive in reservoir habitat conditions. 

The AGFC received the fish from TWRA as an ongoing cooperation between the two agencies, according to the AGFC's  warm-water hatchery coordinator Don Brader. "In years of poor fish production, the Commission has received thousands of various fish species from TWRA, who have in turn received various species from the AGFC when their Tennessee hatcheries have failed to produce adequate numbers of young fish," Brader explained. 

In 2003, the AGFC began a second effort at establishing a smallmouth bass fishery in Lake Ouachita by growing out the fingerling fish received from Tennessee to an average size of six to 12 inches, Brader said. "This summer 700 of those were stocked by boat into suitable habitat sites in the lower reaches of the lake between Blakely Dam and lake marker number one," he added. The remaining reservoir-strain smallmouth from Tennessee are currently being held at the Hulsey Hatchery and will be used as brood stock for spawning purposes next spring. 

The AGFC plans to produce and stock approximately 100,000 fingerling smallmouth bass into Lake Ouachita each year for the next five years. The Commission hopes this introduction of the reservoir-strain smallmouth from Tennessee will produce a viable, self-sustaining smallmouth bass fishery in Lake Ouachita in the near future.

At the same time, the Commission is continuing its efforts to improve the Striped Bass and largemouth bass fishery in Lake Ouachita. 

Identifying characteristics:
Two dorsal fins with spinous and soft-rayed portions united, body longer than deep, upper jaw doesn’t extend past eye, bronze streaks in cheek.
Generally green with dark vertical bands rather than a horizontal band along the side. There are 13-15 soft rays in the dorsal fin.

Biology:
 
Smallmouth bass derives its name from the fact that the rear end of the lower jaw does not extend past the eye, while that of a largemouth does.

Smallmouth bass prefer waters that are cool and clear with a rock or gravel bottom.
Ideal smallmouth water contains protective cover such as shoal rocks, slopes, and submerged logs. The preferred water temperature is 68-70 degrees F.

Spawning activity starts in the spring when water temperatures reach 60 degrees. The male builds a nest in quiet water, usually near shore, or downstream from an obstruction that causes a break in the current.

The male guards the eggs and the newly hatched fry, the nest is never far from deep water, or cover so he can retreat when frightened. The eggs, which are larger than those of the largemouth bass, hatch in 2 to 3 days.

When hatched the light-colored fry drop down into the bottom of the nest for three or more days.

By the time the fry work their way out of the nest on the ninth or tenth day, they are very dark in color. Under the watchful eye of the male, they swim in a dense dark cloud over the nest for a few more days, then begin to disperse. At first they fry eat microcrustaceans, but soon add insects and fish to their diet as they grow in size.

Smallmouth bass mature at age three or four, and occasionally live to be 10 to 12 years old. The usual smallmouth seen by anglers is 8 to 15 inches long, and weighs less than three pounds.

The smallmouth transmitter study has also been discounted.

 


 

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