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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

EVALUATION OF FACTORS INFLUENCING SPOTTED BASS MICROPTERUS PUNCTATUS USE OF INTRODUCED STRUCTURES IN A GEORGIA HIGHLAND RESERVOIR

Abstract

As reservoirs age, habitat degradation occurs, resulting in reduced habitat to support reservoir fisheries. Chatuge Reservoir in western North Carolina and northern Georgia is 74 years old and experiencing significant degradation. However, anglers purposely introduce various structures to improve available habitat and attract fish. We tested the utility of various installed structures present in Chatuge Reservoir as suitable habitat for spotted bass and identified specific factors of these structures that best attract spotted bass. Using an underwater camera system, abundance of spotted bass from video recordings (SBAV) was quantified from 40 installed structures in Lake Chatuge from July – August 2016. We observed higher spotted bass abundance at structures with vegetation present, young of year present, increasing height, horizontal structural orientation and forage species absent. Structure orientation (P=0.075) and presence of vegetation (P=0.094) were significantly related (P <0.1) to spotted bass abundance. Horizontal structures and structures with vegetation present contained approximately two more bass per structure on average than other structural variables. As surface water temperature increased (P=0.079) and distance to nearest bank increased (P= 0.049) spotted bass counts were predicted to increase as well. These findings provide guidance for biologists and anglers seeking to increase available habitat to support productive spotted bass fisheries in clear highland reservoirs similar to Lake Chatuge.

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