We assessed the impact of predation by smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu and largemouth bass M. salmoides on juveniles of federally listed Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha and other anadromous salmonid populations in the Lake Washington system. Bass were collected with boat electrofishing equipment in the south end of Lake Washington (February-June) and the Lake Washington Ship Canal (LWSC; April-July), a narrow waterway that smolts must migrate through to reach the marine environment. Genetic analysis was used to identify ingested salmonids to obtain a more precise species-specific consumption estimate. Overall, we examined the stomachs of 783 smallmouth bass and 310 largemouth bass greater than 100 mm fork length (FL). Rates of predation on salmonids in the south end of Lake Washington were generally low for both black bass species. In the LWSC, juvenile salmonids made up a substantial part of bass diets; consumption of salmonids was lower for largemouth bass than for smallmouth bass. Smallmouth bass predation on juvenile salmonids was greatest in June, when salmonids made up approximately 50% of their diet. In the LWSC, overall black bass consumption of salmonids was approximately 36,000 (bioenergetics model) to 46,000 (meal turnover consumption model) juveniles, of which about one-third was juvenile Chinook salmon, one-third was coho salmon O. kisutch, and one-third was sockeye salmon O. nerka. We estimated that about 2,460,000 juvenile Chinook salmon (hatchery and wild sources combined) were produced in the Lake Washington basin in 1999; thus, the mortality estimates in the LWSC range from 0.5% (bioenergetics) to 0.6% (meal turnover). Black bass prey mostly on subyearlings of each salmonid species. The vulnerability of subyearlings to predation can be attributed to their relatively small size; their tendency to migrate when water temperatures exceed 15??C, coinciding with greater black bass activity; and their use of nearshore areas, where overlap with black bass is greatest. We conclude that under current conditions, predation by smallmouth bass and largemouth bass has a minor impact on Chinook salmon and other salmonid populations in the Lake Washington system. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2007.
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Smallmouth bass and largemouth bass predation on juvenile Chinook salmon and other salmonids in the Lake Washington basin