Striped Bass Predation on Bass and Crappie
Prepared by Brett Hobbs Dist. 8 (Hot Springs)
Ralph Fourt & Ron Moore
Dist. 1 (Rogers)
are a open water species
preferring the deep portions of Arkansas Lakes. Ever since their introduction into inland lakes, striped
bass have been suspected of preying directly on popular sportfish. In
response to this concern, numerous food habit studies have been conducted in
several Southeastern reservoirs.
Repeatedly these studies indicate striped bass are extremely unlikely to eat
black bass or other game fish. (Miranda, et al. 1998).
A nine-year study (Nash, et al. 1987) dealt with the
establishment of a striped bass population in Lake Wateree, South Carolina.
Largemouth bass growth, abundance, and condition were not detrimentally
affected by the striped bass.
The largemouth bass length-weight relationship did not change after striped
bass were introduced.
During a Lake Texoma study (Harper & Namminga, 1986) it was
determined after establishment of a striped bass population, changes in the
abundance of several other species, including black bass and crappies, was
the result of periodic strong year classes of those species.
Striped bass predation did affect the size distribution of the gizzard shad
population but had no apparent influence on native predator or prey species
other than shad.
Another Lake Texoma analysis of striped bass interaction with black bass
(Matthews and Hill, 1986) included the analysis of 250 striped bass
The diet of these stripers was mostly shad.
The second most abundant food item was found to be inland silversides.
In parts of spring and early summer stripers also fed heavily on insect
larvae as they were abundant at that time.
Striped bass study on Lake Powell, Arizona:
(Gustaveson, et al. 1985) indicated a virtual absence of a threadfin
shad forage base.
Under these adverse conditions striped bass in Powell were observed to
barely feed (many documented with empty stomachs) and their condition
withered to near starvation levels.
The recorded condition for the striped bass collected was the lowest on
record at that time. Only the youngest stripers foraged affectivity and
utilized zooplankton for their diet.
During 1982-1985 on Lake Powell a self-sustaining smallmouth bass population
There was no evidence of smallmouth fingerling predation by the starving
striped bass. This could be attributed to the fact the smallmouth are a
littoral (shallow water) species.
Reservoirs capable of sustaining a healthy striped bass population must
have sufficient thermal refuge areas for the striped bass to survive high
summer water temperatures.
The striped bass also must have access to a plentiful forage base of
threadfin and gizzard shad or other closely related species (alewife or
herring). Landlocked striped bass have been found to be very sensitive to
temperature variations within stocked waters and will sacrifice food
requirements to remain in areas with cool water during the summer months
In Arkansas, two striped bass studies have shown that
predation on sportfish is insignificant.
Fourt (1985) examined 104 striped bass stomachs and found approximately
95% of the content was shad. Most of these shad were 1-4 inches in size.
Seventeen hybrid stripers were also examined for stomach content. These also
contained about 93% shad.
Filipek (1984) found during a food habit study of Lake Hamilton,
Arkansas, the striped bass diet consisted of 92.8 percent shad with the
remainder of the diet consisting of rainbow trout, sunfish, minnows, and
crayfish. During this period of study (2-years) Lake Hamilton was under a
winter drawdown of 9-feet which further concentrated prey species with the
stripers. Sample size consisted of 116 adult striped bass which were all
examined for stomach contents. The same study documented the hybrid striped
bass also prefers mainly shad with a slightly more diverse diet including
crayfish and minnows. Shad accounted for nearly 82% of the hybrid diet.
Norris Reservoir, Tennessee:
A more recent study (Smollen, 1999) investigating striped bass food
habits was conducted on
Norris Reservoir, Tennessee. This study was also conducted during a
winter drawdown period. In this study stomach contents of 85 striped bass
were examined. Over 99% of the striped bass stomach content was alewives and
A study by the Mississippi Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit (Miranda,
et al. 1998) assessed if the predation of forage species by striped bass
limited the native game fish population. Results of this study indicated
striped bass in Norris Reservoir, Tennessee could potentially compete with
coexisting game fishes for food if the prey-supply-to-predator-demand ratio
is low. Miranda estimated by discontinuing stocking of striped bass, the
remaining predator population biomass could increase by 5-10% total weight.
Striped bass reproduction has only been documented in the
Arkansas River as the striped bass eggs must stay suspended in flowing
water until hatching. The AGFC must stock fingerlings at interval to keep
year-classes present in our reservoirs. Viable striped bass fisheries exist
in Arkansas in
Lake Greeson, Catherine,
Important to note is these fisheries also have strong black bass
populations. Smallmouth bass have been successfully re-introduced into
Beaver Lake while sustaining the stocking of striped bass.
As stated in the draft AG&FC
Striped Bass Management Plan (Fourt, et al., 2000) of vital importance
is the accurate evaluation of shad densities in our striped bass waters. The
shad prey base should be regularly monitored for trends as there can be
competition for the same prey species between striped bass and black basses
Filipek, S. & L. Claybrook, 1984. Stripers and Hybrids, What Do They Really
Eat? Arkansas Game and Fish Magazine. Volume 15, Issue 4. September/October
1984. pp 8-9.
Fourt, R., D. Brader, & S. Wooldridge, 2000. Arkansas Game and Fish
Commission, Striped Bass Management Plan, November 20, 2000 (Draft).
Fourt, R.A., 1985. Age, Growth, Food Habits, Angler Harvest, Tournament
Catches, and Stocking of Striped Bass and Hybrid-Striped Bass in Beaver
Reservoir, 1985. Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, In-House Report.
Gustaveson, W.A., B.L. Bonebrake, S.J. Scott, and J.E. Johnson 1985. Lake
Powell Fisheries Investigations. Publication No. 86-8. Utah Dept. of Nat.
Res. 1596 West North Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84116.
Harper, J.L. and H.E. Namminga 1986. Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation. P.O. Box 53465 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Pages 156-165 in G.E.
Hall and M.J. Van Den Avyle, editors. Reservoir Management Strategies for
the 80's. Reservoir Committee, Southern Division American Fisheries Society,
Bethesda, Maryland 1986.
Matthews, W.J. and L.G. Hill, 1986. Annual Report For Year 1 for the Project
"Potential Interactions Between Striped Bass and Black Bass in Reservoir
Environments". Sponsored by the Bass Research Foundation. University of
Oklahoma Biological Station, Kingston, Oklahoma 73439.
Miranda, L.E., M.T. Driscoll, and S.W. Raborn 1998. Competitive Interactions
Between Striped Bass and Other Freshwater Predators. Sport Fish Restoration.
Final Report October 1996- September 1998. Mississippi Cooperative Fish and
Wildlife Research Unit. Mississippi State University. Mail Stop 9691
Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762.
Moss, J.L. 2001. Cool Striped Bass. Fisheries Section News Article. Alabama
Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.
Nash, V.S., W.E. Hayes, R.L. Self, and J.P. Kirk, 1987. Effect of Striped
Bass Introduction in Lake Wateree, South Carolina. Proceedings of Annual
Conference Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. 41:
Smollen, Mary 1999. Food Habits of Adult Predators in Norris Reservoir
during winter drawdown. M.S. Thesis, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.