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Estimating age and growth of Largemouth Bass in southwestern reservoirs using otoliths and scales

April 11, 2024

Age and growth data are frequently used to monitor and manage important North American sport fishes such as Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides. Continental and regional growth standards have been developed for this species to assess fish growth over time and across space. However, Largemouth Bass age and growth data are infrequently collected in Arizona and the reliability of age estimates derived from typical structures (e.g., scales, otoliths) in the Southwest is uncertain. Our objectives were to 1) compare precision and bias of age estimates from scales with those from otoliths and 2) estimate Largemouth Bass growth in several southwestern warmwater reservoirs by using otoliths. We collected Largemouth Bass from three Arizona reservoirs—Alamo, Peña Blanca, and Roosevelt—by boat electrofishing in spring 2021. We removed scales and sagittal otoliths from fish and then prepared and independently aged them three times. We compared differences in precision and bias between scales and otoliths using reader agreement percentages, confidence ratings, average coefficients of variation, and age-bias plots. We used age estimates from Largemouth Bass otoliths to calculate mean lengths-at-age at capture and relative growth indices based on published growth standards in each reservoir. Largemouth Bass scale age estimates were less precise, overestimated ages of younger fish, and underestimated age of older fish compared with those of otoliths. Growth was lower in Peña Blanca Lake than in the other two reservoirs according to mean length-at-age estimates, and relative growth indices suggested that Largemouth Bass growth in all three reservoirs was above average at younger ages, but less so at older ages. The results from this study add to a growing body of literature supporting the use of otoliths for estimating age and growth of Largemouth Bass.

Publication Year 2024
Title Estimating age and growth of Largemouth Bass in southwestern reservoirs using otoliths and scales
DOI 10.3996/JFWM-23-006
Authors Steven J. Ingram, Joshua D. Grant, Zachary S. Beard, Nathan Berg, Anna M. Ringelman, Scott A. Bonar
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
Index ID 70254757
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle