Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Major Professor

James L. Wilson

Committee Members

Bart D. Carter, James W. Habera


The Little River in Blount County, Tennessee, is a popular tourist location and fishery. It originates inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) and has sustained few impacts due to the protection of the Park. Growth and condition of smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu and rock bass Ambloplites rupestris were evaluated in Little River, Tennessee, from April to August 2013 and related to populations from other rivers in East Tennessee. Samples were collected via boat and backpack electrofishing. Selective sampling techniques targeting five or more fish in each 25.4- mm class produced 97 smallmouth bass and 48 rock bass. Otoliths were extracted from all fish for age determination. Length and weight measurements along with sex of each fish were also recorded.

The von Bertalanffy growth function predicted smallmouth bass grew to 180 mm in 2.5 years, 305 mm in 5.1 years, and 356 mm in 6.7 years. Rock bass grew to 100 mm in 2.4 years, 180 mm in 5.2 years, and 230 mm in 8.3 years. When compared to other rivers in Eastern Tennessee, growth of smallmouth bass and rock bass in Little River was slow, although smallmouth bass grew faster in Little River outside the GSMNP. The maximum age of smallmouth bass and rock bass collected was 15.0 and 7.0 years, respectively. Mean relative weights (Wr) of smallmouth bass and rock bass were 84 and 89, respectively. Poor condition and slow growth was common in Little River fish and may be related to low temperature and productivity associated with the Park watershed or low abundance of food.

The results of this study enable fisheries managers to make informed decisions on how angling regulations and harvest may affect populations of smallmouth bass and rock bass in the Little River. The Little River has the potential to produce trophy size smallmouth bass and regulations on rock bass harvest could be reviewed by managers to enhance the fishery and promote larger and older fish.

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