Porta, M.J. and J.M. Long. 2015. Evaluation of a five-year shoal bass conservation-stocking program in the upper Chattahoochee River, Georgia. Pages 169-180 in Tringali, M.D., J.M. Long, T.W. Birdsong, and M.S. Allen, editors. Black bass diversity: multidisciplinary science for conservation. American Fisheries Society, Symposium 82, Bethesda, Maryland.
In 2003, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service initiated a five-year Shoal Bass Micropterus cataractae stocking program below Morgan Falls Dam in the Chattahoochee River, Georgia with a goal of restoring population abundance to historic levels and to provide further sport-fishing opportunities. Shoal Bass were marked with oxytetracyline (OTC) and stocked as juveniles at one of two size classes (Phase I [~25 mm, TL] and Phase II [~60 mm, TL]) in spring (April – June) each year (2003-2007). Contribution to the adult population was evaluated by collecting adult Shoal Bass with boat electrofishing from 2007-2011 and viewing their otoliths for the presence of an OTC mark. Stocked Shoal Bass dominated the total sample of adult fish collected (60%) and most of these fish (83%) were stocked at the larger Phase II size class. Based on results from multiple regression modeling, stocked age-3 Shoal Bass catch-per-unit-effort was positively related to mean size at stocking and spring water temperatures. Total mortality of Shoal Bass in this population was low (20%) with increased longevity (14 years) and slow growth rates. Overall, the five-year Shoal Bass stocking program was successful in increasing Shoal Bass abundance in the Chattahoochee River below Morgan Falls Dam.