We investigated two southern Illinois reservoirs with contrasting size structures of yellow bass (Morone mississippiensis) to compare growth, mortality and recruitment patterns. Yellow bass were collected from Crab Orchard and Little Grassy Lakes during April-May 2009 using AC electrofishing. Total length and weight were recorded and sagittal otoliths sectioned and aged by two readers. Increments between otolith annuli were measured and the Weisberg linear growth model was used to assess age and environmental (growth year) effects on individual growth for fish from the two lakes. Von Bertalanffy growth models indicated faster growth and a greater maximum total length for yellow bass in Little Grassy Lake. However, growth of fish in Little Grassy Lake nearly ceased after age 4. The Weisberg model indicated differences in individual growth rate between the two lakes that were consistent across years (age effects were significant but growth year effects and the age-growth year interaction were not). Inter-lake differences in fish growth were present up to age 3. Recruitment was relatively stable in Crab Orchard, with year classes up to age 7 observed. Recruitment was more erratic in Little Grassy, with age 5 being the dominant year class and fish up to age 11 present. Differences in growth and recruitment patterns for yellow bass in these two lakes may be attributed to substantial inter-lake differences in turbidity, morphoedaphic index, or yellow bass density. Maximum age of yellow bass (age 11) was higher than previously reported for this species, likely due to the use of otoliths to age fish rather than scales. This study provides baseline information on age and growth, mortality, recruitment, and size structure of yellow bass that can be compared to data from future studies to elucidate factors influencing population dynamics of this species.
Journal of Applied Ichthyology