Commercial netting occurred October through April, 1971-1976 on Nimrod Lake and from October through April, 1973-1977 on Blue Mountain Lake in west central Arkansas. Using 7.6 cm or larger mesh gill and/or trammel nets, commercial fishermen harvested commercial fishes (buffalofishes [Ictiobus spp.]; common carp [Cyprinus carpio], carpsuckers [Carpiodes spp.]; drum [Aplodinotus grunniens]; gars [Lepisosteus spp.]; suckers [Catostomidae); and catfishes [Ictalurus spp. and Pylodictis olivaris]). During the study period, cove rotenone samples were conducted on an annual basis. Fishes collected were placed into age classes and enumerated. Data were then grouped into general categories (black basses [Micropterus spp], crappie [Pomoxis spp.], sunfishes [Lepomis spp], clupeid fishes [Dorosoma spp], commercial fishes and catfishes) and analyzed. Substantial reductions in standing crops of commercial fishes were noted in both reservoirs. However, in Blue Mountain Lake, reductions were temporary and commercial fish biomasses had begun to increase markedly by the end of the study period. As catfishes were the species principally sought by commercial fishermen, it was somewhat surprising that total catfish biomasses increased in Blue Mountain Lake following the start of netting. For three of the four years prior to netting, catfish spawns were not recorded from Nimrod Lake. However, following the instigation of netting, spawns were recorded for the following four years. Sport fish populations for the most part were unharmed by the commercial netting. In some instances, sport fish populations appeared to improve during the study period. Visual analysis revealed that the increases in numerical standing crops of smaller sport fishes in Blue Mountain Lake appeared to correspond to decreases in commercial fish biomasses. Significant(P ≤ 0.05) increases in sport fish young-of-the-year numbers were recorded for crappie in Blue Mountain Lake and sunfishes in Nimrod Lake and Blue Mountain Lake. Increases in numerical standing crops were also observed among intermediate black bass and crappie populations of both study lakes. Adult black bass mean numerical standing crops were virtually unchanged in both study lakes. Adult crappie and sunfish population exhibited some variation in the study. A small increase in the adult crappie population was observed in Nimrod Lake, while a significant increase (P ≤ 0.05) in the adult sunfish population was noted in Nimrod Lake. In Blue Mountain Lake, an expansion of the forage base occurred which included an increase in the number of both adult and intermediate clupeid fishes present. Adult shad populations decreased in Nimrod Lake, while the numbers of young-of-the-year shad were lower in both study lakes. It was felt that the netting program contributed significantly to the increases in sport fish populations in both lakes. However, other uncontrollable factors may have also influenced the sport fish populations in the two lakes (i.e. winter and spring water levels).
"Effects of Commercial Fish Removal on Sport Fish Populations in Two Arkansas Reservoirs,"
Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science: Vol. 38
, Article 10.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uark.edu/jaas/vol38/iss1/10