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Movement dynamics of Smallmouth Bass in a large western river system

February 1, 2020

The Snake River, Idaho, between Swan Falls and Brownlee dams supports a popular fishery for Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu. Recently, anglers have expressed concern about harvest of Smallmouth Bass associated with seasonal congregations in and near the lower reaches of several major tributaries. Little is known about Smallmouth Bass movement in the system, and a better understanding of movement dynamics will help to guide future management. From March to August 2016, Smallmouth Bass (≥260 mm; n = 1,131) were tagged with T-bar anchor tags to evaluate large-scale movement patterns. Movement was estimated from 63 angler-reported tags for which area descriptions provided sufficient detail to assign a recapture location. Extent of fish movement varied among segments and tributaries from 0 to 128 river kilometers (rkm). From March to May 2017, Smallmouth Bass (≥305 mm; n = 149) in the Snake, Boise, Payette, and Weiser rivers and in Brownlee Reservoir were implanted with radio transmitters. Of the 149 Smallmouth Bass that were released with radio transmitters, 107 were relocated at least once. Additionally, 79.6% of fish with radio transmitters had a maximum extent of movement of 5 rkm or greater and 42.6% had a maximum extent of 30 rkm or greater; one radio-tagged fish moved 167 rkm upstream. Average daily movement of Smallmouth Bass varied among river segments and was greatest in the spring and summer. Fish from the Snake River, tributaries (e.g., Boise River), and Brownlee Reservoir moved all around the study area, indicating an absence of clear population boundaries. As such, Smallmouth Bass in the study area appear to function as one large population as opposed to multiple subpopulations, thereby indicating that management as one population is likely appropriate.

Publication Year 2020
Title Movement dynamics of Smallmouth Bass in a large western river system
DOI 10.1002/nafm.10389
Authors Conor McClure, Michael C. Quist, Joseph Kozfkay, Michael Peterson, Daniel J. Schill
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title North American Journal of Fisheries Management
Index ID 70228272
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle