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Population Structure and Dynamics of Northern Pike and Smallmouth Bass in Coeur d'Alene Lake, Idaho

Walrath, John D., Quist, Michael C., Firehammer, Jon A.
Northwest science 2015 v.89 no.3 pp. 280-296
Esox lucius, Micropterus dolomieu, demographic statistics, game fish, lakes, lentic systems, longevity, mortality, population dynamics, population structure, Idaho, Northeastern United States
Numerous species have been introduced to Coeur d'Alene Lake, Idaho over the last century, but minimal research has been completed to understand their population dynamics. The objective of this study was to describe the population demographics and dynamics of northern pike (Esox lucius) and smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu), two important nonnative sport fishes in the system to provide information that will assist with guiding management decisions. The oldest northern pike was age 7 and the oldest smallmouth bass was age 11. Populations of both species exhibited very stable recruitment with a recruitment coefficient of determination of 0.99 for northern pike and 0.98 for smallmouth bass. Total annual mortality was estimated as 66% for northern pike and 42% for smallmouth bass. Growth of northern pike in Coeur d'Alene Lake was comparable to the 50–75th percentiles of growth exhibited by lentic northern pike populations across North America. Northern pike in Coeur d'Alene Lake were most similar to populations in the north-central and northeast United States with fast growth rates and short life spans. In contrast, smallmouth bass grew slowly and generally fell within the 5th percentile of lentic smallmouth bass populations in North America. Smallmouth bass in Coeur d'Alene Lake were similar to other populations in northern regions of the United States displaying slow growth rates with high longevity. Results of this study provide important insight on nonnative northern pike and smallmouth bass population dynamics.