History of Striped Bass Management in the Colorado River
Wayne Gustaveson and Georg Blommer
Abstract.—The discovery of landlocked populations of striped bass Morone saxatilis in Santee–Cooper Reservoir, South Carolina and Kerr Reservoir, Virginia prompted a rush to stock striped bass in other inland waters of the United States, including impoundments in the Colorado River. Fisheries managers responsible for Colorado River waters studied existing literature and predicted that it would be unlikely for successful natural reproduction of striped bass in these systems. Striped bass population development proved unique in the Colorado River system, which is marked by nutrient-poor, well-oxygenated waters with limited forage. Natural reproduction did occur in these reservoirs despite the lack of current previously thought to be essential for successful reproduction, resulting in high survival. Developing populations were sometimes overabundant to the point of forage elimination from pelagic zones. Lack of prey limited growth and temporarily reduced reproduction. Eventually forage returned, increasing striped bass growth and maturity, which led to more reproduction (a “boom and bust”cycle). Planned low-impact, low-abundance adult trophy fisheries produced by managed stocking were replaced by high-abundance juvenile fisheries with high catch rates produced by natural reproduction. In most years, juvenile striped bass living in warm surface waters proved to have the competitive advantage over adults for limited forage.