Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Evaluating the potential for stock size to limit recruitment in largemouth bass

May 20, 2012

Compensatory changes in juvenile survival allow fish stocks to maintain relatively constant recruitment across a wide range of stock sizes (and levels of fishing), but few studies have experimentally explored recruitment compensation in fish populations. We evaluated the potential for recruitment compensation in largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides by stocking six 0.4-ha hatchery ponds with adult densities ranging from 6 to 40 fish over 2 years. Ponds were drained in October each year, and the age-0 fish densities were used as a measure of recruitment. We found no relationship between stock abundance and recruitment; ponds with low adult densities produced nearly as many recruits as the higher-density ponds in some cases. Both prey abundance and the growth of age-0 largemouth bass declined with age-0 fish density. Recruit abundance was highly variable both within and among the adult density groups, and thus we were unable to identify a clear stock–recruit relationship for largemouth bass. Our results indicate that reducing the number of effective spawners via angling practices would not reduce recruitment over a relatively large range in stock size.