Alan Waite

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Robert Hoyt, Rudolph Prins, Gary Dillard

Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science


The population of the smallmouth buffalo, Ictiobus bubalus (Rafinesque), was studied in Rough River Lake, Kentucky, from July, 1974, through June, 1975. A total of 758 individuals were collected with 587 being marked and returned.

From calculations made using poison population sample data, population size was estimated to be between 150,00 to 225,000 adult fish or 29 to 44 fish per acre. Scales were studied to determine age and through back calculation, the total length of each fish at the time of each annulus formation determined. Ten year ciasses were observed with the majority of the fish in age groups IV and V. Eighty percent of all fish taken in the study ranged from 400 to 550 mm total length. Age groups III through VIII were represented in this 150 mm size range. Only two age group II fish were collected with no individuals less than two years old represented.

Condition or plumpness was greatest in smaller fish and decreased as the length of the fish increased. During the month of April, fish moved upstream to spawn, at which time catch success per fishing effort was greatest. Flag nets of 2 ½- and 3-inch mesh sizes were the most efficient tackle. Gill nets followed in order in catch success with the trammel and hoop nets catching very little throughout the year. Fish 400 to 550 mm in length were seldom caught in 4-inch mesh nets, which is the state legal minimum size for commercial tackle in Kentucky. The large percentage of the population ranging from 400 to 550 mm total length, representing a non-harvestable size range, indicated an overpopulation of slow growing smallmouth buffalo.


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