The Ohio River Fisheries Management Team continued to monitor and manage Ohio River black bass populations, habitats, and fisheries through a coordinated sampling effort in 2002. Results provide a river-wide perspective of these important sport fishes. Key activities and findings include the following:
♦ SAMPLING. ORFMT states are collectively monitoring black bass populations in five study pools throughout the Ohio River.
♦ SPECIES COMPOSITION. Habitat is better suited for smallmouth bass in the upper Ohio River, while downstream areas are better suited for spotted and largemouth bass.
♦ ABUNDANCE. Smallmouth bass catch rates are greater in the upper river, whereas spotted and largemouth bass catch rates are greater in the lower river. These trends are more apparent in 2002.
♦ GROWTH. Growth is similar among pools in 2001 and 2002. Smithland Pool black bass grow as fast as Hannibal Pool black bass. Ohio River black bass continue to grow fast, reaching 12 inches or greater in three growing seasons.
♦ REPRODUCTION. Results suggest that reproduction and survival of young fish spawned in 2001 was greater that those spawned in 2000.
♦ CONDITION. Health of Ohio River black bass is similar to last year. Fish are in excellent condition, indicating that a good supply of food is available.
♦ TOURNAMENT RESULTS. Tournament catch rates (number of 12 inch bass caught per hour of fishing) tended to increase from lower to upper portions of the river.
♦ STOCKING. WVDNR stocked largemouth bass in 2002. Results from this pilot study are pending, update will be available in 2003.
♦ HABITAT MONITORING. ODNR continues pilot study to evaluate the effects of varying flows and temperatures on reproduction and survival in the Belleville Pool. Results are still preliminary and will be reported on more fully in future reports.
♦ HABITAT IMPROVEMENT. KDFWR initiated development of a pilot project to evaluate artificial structure on spawning in the Meldahl Pool.
♦ PARTNERSHIPS. The ORFMT has participated in several meetings with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discuss Ohio River issues related to access, dredging, and navigation.
♦ CREEL SURVEY. Tailwater surveys were initiated in Fall 2001. Summaries of angler catch rates, harvest, and effort are pending, update will be available in 2003. .
♦ ACCESS. The ORFMT states continue to add and renovate access sites throughout the Ohio River to increase fishing opportunities.
Black bass (largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass) are important Ohio River sport fishes. They provide boat- and shore-fishing opportunities from all areas of the river, making bass fishing an important recreational activity on the river and a valued source of revenue for the regional economy. Historically, annual angling success for black bass on the Ohio River has been vari-able. These fluctuations are likely due to changes in water temperature, water level, and availability of food. To better manage this fishery, the states bordering the Ohio River have been working collectively to identify the factors which regulate reproduction and survival. The border states formed the Ohio River Fisheries Management Team (ORFMT; Figure 1) in 1990 in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on multi-state ownership of the river. Since that time, the ORFMT has pursued cooperative interstate fisheries management throughout the river. In the Fall of 2001, the ORFMT began monitoring black bass populations river-wide. A summary of these activities is provided in this ORFMT update. Data are compared with largemouth bass averages from Ohio River monitoring in 2001.
INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND
IL OH PA
Figure 1. Ohio River Fisheries Management Team states.
♦ Monitored black bass populations in five pools to deter-mine population quality.
♦ Monitored temperature and water level fluctuations in Belleville Pool to evaluate their effects on reproduction.
♦ Conducted angler surveys in eight tailwaters to evaluate sizes and numbers of fish caught.
♦ Summarized tournament data reporting to monitor bass populations.
♦ Continued evaluation of largemouth bass stocking in Belleville Pool.
♦ Met with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve fishing opportunities.
♦ Presented project updates to bass angling organizations.
5 - S
2 - B
3 - M
4 - C
1 - H
Hannibal Belleville Meldahl Cannelton Smithland
r of E
Standardized sampling began in 2001. Largemouth and spotted bass catch rates are seemingly random in the first year of sampling; however, catch rates in 2002 are directly related to upstream and downstream habitat. Smallmouth bass catch rates are higher in the upper river pools, whereas spotted bass and largemouth bass catch rates are higher in the lower river pools.
Figure 4. Ohio River black bass catch rates per hour of electrofishing from each of the five study pools, 2001-2002.
12 Inches by age 2!
0 1 2 3 40
Sm allm outh
Figure 5. Average lengths at age of Ohio River black bass.
Length-at-age data were combined for all of the study pools because there were no differences in growth among pools in 2001 and 2002. Smithland Pool black bass grow as fast as Hannibal Pool black bass. All three species reach 12 inches during their third growing year, indicating that the fishery is made up of fast-growing fish ages 2 and older.
Largemouth Spotted Smallmouth
Figure 6. Ohio River catch rates per hour of electrofishing of age-1 black bass from the upper (Hannibal and Belleville Pool) and lower (Meldahl, Cannelton, and Smithland Pools) study pools, 2001-2002.
Small fish grow to become large fish. In an effort to predict numbers of fish entering the fishery, we are monitoring numbers of young fish. Based on our length-at-age data, these fish will enter the fishery within the next two years. Pools with similar habitat were grouped into an upper region (Hannibal and Belleville Pools) and a lower region (Meldahl, Cannelton, and Smithland Pools) to improve sampling accuracy. Results suggest that reproduction and survival of young fish spawned in 2001 was greater than those spawned in 2000.
Excellent Condition Fair Condition
Figure 7. Condition of Ohio River black bass from all pools combined, 2001 and 2002.
Largemouth Smallmouth Spotted
Body condition is a measure of fish health. Condition in 2002 is similar to that in 2001. Ohio River black bass are in good to excellent condition, indicating that there is a good supply of food available.
Tournament hours needed to catch a 12 inch black bass increased from the upper to the lower portion of the river. Catch rates for the entire river spiked in 2001 due to the differences in section 2 catch rates. These rates returned to levels of previous years in 2002 which decreased the overall river results. This spike may be at-tributed to a higher number of fish in the 1999 year class.
Lock and Dam
Figure 8. Ohio River sections used for analyzing black bass tournament data.
In 1999, the ORFMT began collecting standardized black bass tournament data river-wide. This allowed states to evaluate the success of competitive angling and track populations. Results are reported as the number of hours it took to catch a 12-inch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, or spotted bass. Species composition is not uniform throughout the 981-mile length of the Ohio River. To allow for a river-wide evaluation, the Ohio River was divided into four sections.
1. New Cumberland Pool - Hannibal Pool 2. Willow Island Pool - Racine Pool 3. R.C. Byrd Pool - Markland Pool 4. McAlpine Pool - Smithland Pool
Ohio River 4.2 4.5 7.1 Section 1 3.8 3.6 6.7
Section 2 3.6 5.3 8.3
Section 3 3.7 5.9 7.1 Section 4 6.7 5.9 7.1
Hours to Catch a 12-inch Black Bass (Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Spotted Bass)
2002 5.6 5.3
Table 1. Ohio River black bass tournament results for each river section, 1999 - 2002.
5 0 5 10 Miles
Artificial spawning habitat has been added to systems to increase nesting success of black bass where lack of habitat is limiting repro-duction. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) will be examin-ing the affects of artificial spawning structures (Figure 10) on largemouth bass production in the Meldahl Pool, Ohio River (Figure 11). Artificial nesting structures will be placed in two study embayments, Big Snag Creek and Bracken Creek during early March 2004 (Figure 12). Electrofishing surveys will be conducted during the spring and fall of each year to monitor populations. Results will be compared with data from two control embay-ments, Big Locust Creek and Big Turtle Creek (Figure 12). Data obtained from this study will be used to determine if spawning habitat is limiting production in the Meldahl Pool, Ohio River. Initial testing of structures will began in spring 2003 at the KDFWR Frankfort Office lake and the Pfeiffer Fish Hatchery.
Figure 10. Photograph of artificial spawning structure.
Figure 11. Photograph of artificial spawning structure in use at a Kentucky hatchery pond.
Figure 12. Study embayment locations.
The ORFMT has participated in several meetings with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to discuss Ohio River issues related to access, dredging, and navigation.
PARTNERSHIP WITH USACE
• The USACE owns property surrounding each lock and dam project. ORFMT states are working cooperatively with USACE project leaders to improve access at each site.
• The ORFMT prioritized embayments where siltation is impacting access and fish habi-tat. While USACE operations impact these areas, budgetary constraints limit their ability to dredge non-essential locations (embayments). Cost to dredge an average sized embayment would be approximately $161,000.00.
• The USACE is funding a large-scale study (Ohio River Mainstem System Study, ORMSS) to investigate the impacts of lock expansion on the resource. The ORFMT continues to be actively involved with this project, designing a river-wide angler survey, a tagging study to assess fish movement, and assessing habitat through university partnerships.
Tailwater angler surveys were initiated in Fall 2001. These surveys are general fisheries surveys associated with the ORMSS funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Summaries of angler catch rates, angler harvest, and angler effort will be available in Fall 2003 and included in the 2003 Sportsman’s Report.
Figure 13. Tailwater creel locations.
Uniontown Willow Island
R.C. Byrd Smithland
Handicapped access being added at the Williamstown, WV ramp (Belleville Pool); Other improvements have been discussed for a R.C. Byrd Pool site.
ODNR grants were awarded to fund five boat ramp renovations and one ramp dredging.
•Plans for a ramp at river-mile 241.2 (R.C. Byrd Pool) submitted. Surveys and construction pending. •ODNR grants were awarded to fund 4 new ramp projects.
Kentucky Routine maintenance conducted throughout the year.
Transfer of COE ramps to KDFWR is pending.
Indiana Routine maintenance conducted throughout the year.
Engineering design conducted for new ramp at Falls of the Ohio State Park (River Mile 606.0).
Illinois Routine maintenance conducted throughout the year.
Boat ramp and dock at Fort Massic State Park (near Metropolis, IL)
Table 2. Ohio River access improvements and additions.
• Catch rates in 2002 are directly related to upstream and downstream habitat. Smallmouth bass catch rates are higher in the upper river pools while spotted bass and largemouth bass catch rates are higher in the lower river pools.
• Growth was similar among pools in 2001 and 2002. Smithland Pool black bass
grow as fast as Hannibal Pool black bass. All three species reach 12 inches by their third growing year.
• Catch rates of age-1 black bass suggest that survival of young fish spawned in
2001 was greater than those spawned in 2000. • Ohio River black bass are in excellent condition, indicating that a good supply of
food is available.
• Sample black bass in the five study pools of the Ohio River.
• Monitor and analyze water monitoring data
from the Belleville Pool. • Develop pilot study to examine the influence
of artificial spawning structures on black bass populations.
• Summarize results of largemouth bass stocking in
Belleville and Hannibal Pools. • Summarize 2002 tournament data. • Partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. • Summarize results from ORMSS angler survey. • Report university findings on ORMSS fish habitat
use study. • Report tagging results associated with ORMSS