Problems with stripe and drawdowns

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Posted by Shane on November 16, 2001 at 20:48:26:

In Reply to: Re: CAN ANYONE EXPLAIN... posted by Kerry Grissett on November 14, 2001 at 22:37:26:

The stocking of stripe bass presents an interesting issue. Stomach content analysis have been conducted (on adult saltwater stripe and hybrids) in many different bodies of water, and all the results I have read indicate that bass, crappie, etc make up a very small percentage of their diet. These fish are supposed to feed on an unutilized foodsource--full size adult gizzard shad (that crappie and 99% of the bass cannot eat). I have no problem with this--adult stripe do feed on those large shad. My problem with stripe lies in the stocking size--they stock hundreds of thousands (last report I read said 400000 annually at wheeler) of fingerlings. When these fish are in the 1-5lb range they are competing for the same food (small bluegill, crappie and threadfin shad) that bass and big crappie are. In years with huge shad populations that does not present a problem. However, in lean years with extremely cold winters that decimate the shad, competition can be a problem (schools of stripe are very efficient predators). Overall, the stripe on smith most likely have little influence on the bass--it's just a difficult lake to fish. Pollution and development probably affect the fish as much as anything.

As for wheeler--i have read that it is used as a "storage" lake--we handle the floodwater(or just excessive rainwater) for upriver. Guntersville does not fluctuate nearly as much as wheeler because it is not used this way. Wheeler is dropped to winter level to prepare for winter rains. This alone would not be to much of a problem, but the fluctuation of water levels in the spring (during crappie spawning season), supposedly for mosquito control, can have a devastating effect. Dry eggs=dead eggs, not very good for future generations of crappie. Bass spawn later in the spring (water temp needs to be 67-73 or so for maximum spawing of bass) so the drawdowns dont affect them as much.

Milfoil spraying is evil--they should never never do that, but as most of you know by now TVA does not manage the river for fish or fisherman!

Shane D. Jackson (non practicing fisheries biologist!)

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