Biotic and Abiotic Determinants of Stocking Success for Striped Bass in Inland Waters
Trent M. Sutton, Daniel M. Wilson, and John J. Ney
Abstract.—The stocking of fingerling striped bass Morone saxatilis in freshwater impoundments has led to the development of successful put-grow-take fisheries throughout the southern United States. However, first-year survival of stocked fingerlings is often low. To enhance stocking success of striped bass, a better understanding is needed on the impacts of different stocking strategies on early life-history dynamics. In this review paper, we first examined the existing literature on the role of abiotic and biotic factors on recruitment dynamics of stocked piscivores in inland freshwater systems. Second, we compiled the results of a progressive series of studies that were completed over a 25-year period in Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, that focused on understanding the relationship between striped bass stocking success and biotic interactions, forage-fish prey availability and dynamics, and first-year recruitment. This case study demonstrated that differential intra-cohort growth and poor first-year winter survival are the primary factors limiting stocking success and that stocking fingerlings at a greater number of sites throughout the lake at lower densities improved recruitment to age 1. With this information, we provide stocking size, time, density, and location strategy recommendations that should yield increased survival and stocking success of striped bass in freshwater impoundments.