Wayne, quick question on size?

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TYme2Fish

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ive always been curious on how long the smallies and largemouth take to reach a certain weight at lake Powell. How old is a one pounder, two, three etc. Im assuming you use the otoliths to determine the age. Thanks
 

wayne gustaveson

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ive always been curious on how long the smallies and largemouth take to reach a certain weight at lake Powell. How old is a one pounder, two, three etc. Im assuming you use the otoliths to determine the age. Thanks
It is easier to read bass scales to determine age but otoliths give a more precise reading of age. We use both techniques but read more scales than otoliths.

Growth is slower for smallmouth than largemouth bass. It changes with amount of forage but data from 2011 indicates that smallmouth growth by year class is as follows:

1 yr = 5.6 inches
2 yr = 8.3 inches
3 yr= 10.3 inches
4 yr= 12 inches

After they mature and start eating larger forage, growth is faster but still a 3-4 pound smallmouth has probably been in the lake for 6-8 years or more.

If we reduce the total number of fish by harvest then forage is more readily available to the remaining smallmouth bass and growth rate increases. Hence, the 20 fish limit and advice to keep the smaller fish. No harvest allows the population to stunt, meaning growth really slows down. The smallmouth fishery has been very important to fishing success at Lake Powell but it is wise to keep a limit each trip to make bass size increase. Isolated places like the San Juan have a huge population that needs to be reduced. Keep the 9-12 inch fish and let the 2-4 pounders go.
 

PBH

Well-Known Member
If we reduce the total number of fish by harvest then forage is more readily available to the remaining smallmouth bass and growth rate increases. Hence, the 20 fish limit and advice to keep the smaller fish. No harvest allows the population to stunt, meaning growth really slows down. The smallmouth fishery has been very important to fishing success at Lake Powell but it is wise to keep a limit each trip to make bass size increase. Isolated places like the San Juan have a huge population that needs to be reduced. Keep the 9-12 inch fish and let the 2-4 pounders go.
This is such a hard concept for many fishermen to understand. Whether it's bass or trout. Far too often anglers want to relate fish to other mammals with determinate growth. Fish follow indeterminate growth - which means they will grow to match their environments. Mammals are determinate, or genetically pre-determined to grow to certain sizes. An elephant is going to grow big. That is pre-determined. Fish, even with "good" genetics, may not grow big, even if they live for many years. Fish might stay the same size (small) for many years, then experience high growth rates for 1 year and grow "large" very fast. This is very typical of lake trout. They might live 20 years and only grow to 20". Then one day their diet changes, and they double their size in 1 year. On avergae, this would show a steady increase in growth rate to 40" over 21 years (2" / year) -- but in reality most of the growth came in 1 spurt in a short period of time. So, you have to take some of those averages with some understanding of what may have happened. So, on average, it might take 6 - 8 years to grow a 3lb smallie.

Fisheries managers want fish in this zone of fast growth rates all the time. When fish grow FAST they get BIG. You get fish in that zone by managing population size. Fisheries managers utilize 4 tools to manage fish populations: (1) fishing rules and regulations, (2) public relations and education, (3) fish stocking and fish removal, and (4) habitat improvement and manipulation.

Wayne has done a great job at Powell utilizing most of those tools, and anglers have responded well to the management of that fishery. Rules and regulations allow for increased harvest, public relations and education promote increased harvest, and anglers respond by removing fish. Habitat manipulation on Powell is a little harder to control.
 

Edward Gerdemann

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I'm amazed more people don't fish for smallmouth on Lake Powell. They are a great game fish and the smaller ones are certainly good to eat, far better than stripers in my humble opinion. They are just hard enough to catch to make them a challenge but no so hard that the average angler can't learn to catch them consistently. They are an aggressive and hard fighting fish. Once you learn where and how to fish for them it's possible to take large numbers from Powell. I actually think they are a little more consistent than stripers, however the action is often not quite as fast. Still, the smallmouth bass is an absolutely beautiful fish and, in my opinion, fights harder for its size than any game fish out there.

When I was a kid growing up in southern Missouri smallmouth were highly prized, and catching three or four pretty good ones in a day from one of the Ozark streams was considered quite a feat. My parents, as well as a number of others in our area, went to Ontario nearly every summer because up there they could catch smallmouths in numbers they could only dream of in the Ozarks. When I tell friends from Missouri the kind of smallmouth fishery Powell is and how many we are allowed to keep they can't believe it. If you haven't been fishing for smallmouth bass I suggest you give it a try. They provide a nice break from stripers and are really a wonderful fish to catch. :)

Ed Gerdemann
 

Ron O

Active Member
Wayne,
I know you lived in Yuma, do you know how the Smallmouth growth rate in the Colorado River
in the Yuma area would compare to Powell?
Thanks,
Ron
 

wayne gustaveson

Moderator
Staff member
Yuma was a long time ago (1972-73) but growth rate is about water temperature and forage. I think the Yuma area smallmouth would have a similar growth rate because of forage and perhaps a bit better due to water temperature (warmer winter months). I will look at studies and see if I can find any further information.
 
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