Natural Reproduction: How It Has Affected Striped Bass Management of John H. Kerr and Santee-Cooper Reservoirs and Lake Texoma
Scott D. Lamprecht, Matt D. Mauck, and Victor J. DiCenzo
Abstract.—Striped bass Morone saxatilis have been introduced into hundreds of inland impoundments, and in several instances, natural reproduction and recruitment has developed. Three of these impoundments are Lake Texoma, John H. Kerr Reservoir, and Santee Cooper Reservoir, whose natural recruitment is dependent on their tributary rivers. Historic management of these populations has required addressing issues of excess reproduction, excess harvest, and spawning flow alteration. Initial high abundance fostered a harvest oriented mind set among striped bass anglers in these reservoirs, which today can only be sustained on Lake Texoma. Supplemental stocking of both Kerr and Santee-Cooper reservoirs has been used to replace declines in natural recruitment. Mortality estimates suggest that reproductive overfishing may be the underlying cause of natural recruitment declines. Recent adjustments to harvest regulations at both Kerr and Santee-Cooper were required to increase the number of striped bass reaching reproductive age. Both management approaches reduce fishing mortality through reduced daily bag and higher size limits, but also recognize that high catch-and-release mortality makes length limits counterproductive during the summer.