OSU researchers using sound technology to study bass populations

Oklahoma State University ag research experts are studying the population size of shad fish in Arkansas reservoirs to help maintain bass fishing for anglers.

OSU graduate student Joe Dittmer and Dan Shoup, professor in the OSU Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, are using hydroacoustics technology to sample shad populations, which are small schooling fish that travel in packs and serve as a primary food source for temperate bass.

Hydroacoustics is the study of sound waves in water. These sound waves can provide researchers valuable information. In this case, they are determining the size of shad populations to evaluate the bass’ food supply.

Fishing has a large economic impact in the U.S. According to the American Sportfishing Association, U.S. anglers have an economic output of $148 billion annually with Oklahoma contributing $2.5 billion and Arkansas generating $1.2 billion. Lusk said that in 2017, there were an estimated 267,352 licensed resident anglers in Arkansas with a top three preference for black bass. These anglers have invested nearly $3 billion in their fishing and boating equipment. Oklahoma anglers also travel into Arkansas to bass fish.

"Historically, managing the predator-to-prey ratio in large reservoirs has been very reactive,” said Sean Lusk, a biologist with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “By the time biologists identify there are too many predators and not enough prey, it is difficult to implement any action that can quickly restore the proper ratio. Hydroacoustics gives us the ability to better predict an imbalance and adjust management strategies to protect the prey population.”

This research is being conducted at Beaver Lake, among other reservoirs. To read the full article, check out: https://www.hpj.com/outdoors/osu-researchers-using-sound-technology-to-study-bass-populations/article_b4cc1196-1f3b-11ee-81fb-57e35c4a5dd4.html