A few years ago, I was fishing for smallmouth bass with Steve Quinn, a fisheries biologist and editor of In-Fisherman. We had caught plenty of fish throughout the sunny day. In the middle of the afternoon, we began fishing a bank that was partly shaded. I could easily see large rocks and boulders 5 feet deep in the clear water.
Recruitment of young fish is essential to sustained fishing. Despite the amount and intensity of management directed at largemouth bass, America’s most-popular gamefish, the relationship between the abundance of adults and their offspring has not been clearly established. Pond studies from the University of Florida shed light on this critical question.
The population of non-native zebra mussels has recently expanded in the Pickwick Lake and other Tennessee River impoundments. Although we will have to contend with this unwanted invader for a long time to come, some new information suggests zebra mussels may benefit fisheries as well as harm them.
Studies of largemouth bass, as well as several other fish species, including brown trout, rainbow trout, common carp and northern pike, have found that angler catch rates declines with accumulating fishing effort.
Good crappie fishing often depends on a strong year-class: an abundance of fish produced in a given year. When those fish grow to a size of interest to anglers — what biologists call “recruit to the fishery” — the result is fast action, filled limits and full coolers. Fast growth and limited harvest often equates to super slabs for the next several years.
Reservoir crappie populations are notoriously cyclic. A strong year-class is produced once every few years and is usually followed by one or more weak year-classes. When the fish reach catchable size, the abundant cohort supports good to excellent fishing for a few years until members of the once abundant year-class are caught or die of old age.