If you’ve fished Kerr Lake (NC/VA) recently, you’ve probably noticed smaller, and fewer bass in your livewell. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries held a meeting on September 9, 2010 and released the finding findings from a study conducted at Kerr Lake. For the last several years, anglers have noticed a decline in big fish at Kerr and 4 pounders have become harder and harder to come by. With the help of CBAV (The Concerned Bass Anglers of Virginia) the VDGIF recently conducted research and creel surveys, and the news was not so great.
Normal mortality rates in a lake like Kerr should be around 20 – 30%. With all factors combined, most of these fish would be replaced by the spawn and the lake would maintain its good health. The study on Kerr confirmed a 50% mortality rate, slower growth rate, and a large void in the 4+ pound class of fish. They noted that 15” fish were about 4-6 years old on average and a 5 pounder about 12-15 years old. The reason for this: a 43% sampling of bass in the lake resulted in positive results of LMBV and an outstanding report may yield results of up to 50%.
The Largemouth Bass Virus is tougher on large fish, and the higher the stress level the higher the mortality rate. The virus usually runs a 2-3 year course and then the fish build immunities to the virus, much like humans do with the measles. Thus, it is now more important than ever to practice catch and release on Kerr, and fish care is obviously critical to survival rates. Take care of your catch on Kerr.
It is also critical to not transport fish (from lake to lake) for any reason, as this can spread the virus. Livewells should be cleaned and dried-out thoroughly after a trip to Kerr, as the virus can live in water for up to 7 days.
It is noted that LMBV was also found in Briery Creek Reservoir. Further studies on Kerr Lake are forthcoming, and we look forward to any news on how and if Lake Gaston is affected.
For more information on LMBV and the impacts in can have on a body of water, check out the Bassmaster study found here.
B.A.S.S. Inc. Largemouth Bass Virus Fact Sheet. 16 March 2004. Texas Parks and Wildlife. 11 Aug 2004. .
Fish Diseases. ND. Indiana Department of Natural Resources. 10 Aug 2004. .
Grizzle, John M. and Cindy J. Brunner. Review of Largemouth Bass Virus. Nov 2003. Fisheries vol 28 no 11. 11 Aug 2004. .
Largemouth Bass Virus Facts. 2004. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. 11 Aug 2004. .