Arkansas Ozarks Fishing-White River-Bull Shoals Lake-Norfork-Buffalo-North Fork

Striped Bass Transmitter Study

In 1994 University of Arkansas Graduate Student Kenda Flores began a study to correlate fish movements with the deteriorating water quality in Norfork Lake as the sumer progresses. In Ozark lakes, fish like striped bass and walleye prefer deep cool water in the summer. However, as summer progresses, this deep cold water loses oxygen and fish have to move to find their prefered water quality. Prervious water quality studies have shown that the lake’s deep water loses its oxygen in the upstream reaches of its arms first in early summer proceeding toward the dam as summer progresses. The first year, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Missouri Department of Conservation personnel and University of Arkansas students surgically implanted 20 sonic or radio transmitters of various designs in walleye and striped bass to determine the best transmitter type for the main study. The fish were then followed either by boat or airplane. The preliminary study revealed that harvest was too high on walleye for that fish to be included in the main study and that sonic tags worked best (although that required tracking by boat only). The next spring, we implanted 20 striped bass with sonic transmitters. University students tracked the fish all summer and clearly found that the stripers remained in the rapidly declining area containing both cold water and high oxygen. In fact, by mid-September, every striped bass in Norfork Lake containing a working transmitter was located within an area of only a couple hundred yards. This area near the dam was also well known to the striped bass anglers. Dozens of boats were fishing the area.