Movement, Habitat Selection, and Home Range of Largemouth Bass in Table Rock Lake, Missouri

Date Written: 
Thu, 08/15/2013

Introduction: As reservoirs age, fish habitat may decrease because of increased siltation and deterioration of structures which may affect fish populations. Over the past five years the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has worked to improve reservoir fish habitat in Table Rock Lake, Missouri. Over 2,000 fish habitat structures (e.g., tree, stump, and rock piles) were distributed and geo-referenced in an attempt to improve fish habitat and angler success. Researchers then surgically implanted 70 Largemouth Bass with radio telemetry transmitters and relocated them once a month during the day and night for one year. In addition, 24-hour tracking was used monthly on about 20 fish.

Results:

Movement:

  • Movement rates averaged 31 yards/hour.
  • Highest movement rates occurred during warm summer months.
  • Little night movement throughout the year (17% to 73% of daytime movement).

Largemouth Bass selected for:

  • Introduced habitat structure, selected at a similar rate to naturally occurring woody structure.
  • Depths between 8 - 20 feet.
  • Distances between 1 - 25 yards from shore.

Largemouth Bass 50% core home range:

  • Averaged 19.5 acres.
  • Varied from 1.5 acres to 73 acres.
  • Larger fish (>17”) had smaller home ranges.

Management Implications:

  • Additional structures may be able to supplement loss of natural habitat structure.
  • Habitat and home range information may be used to prioritize future placement of additional habitat structure within Table Rock Lake and possibly other reservoirs.

This was a cooperative project between the Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Missouri, Missouri Department of Conservation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Bass Pro Shops.

Research Paper Download: