1967 "FLORIDA STRIPED BASS" St. Johns River, Ocklawaha River, Silver River and Silver Springs

From the
Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca
Information-Source-Document Archives
 
 
Some Excerpted Pages About the
Endemic Striped Bass of Florida's
St. Johns River,
Ocklawaha River,
Silver River and Silver Springs
BEFORE RODMAN DAM
Copied From:
 
1967
Florida Striped Bass
Fishery Bulletin No. 4
Written By James M. Barkuloo
Published by the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission
Original Photos of Striped Bass at Silver Springs by Bruce Mozert
 
 
 
An Information & Information Excerpts Report
Compiled by Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca
With the assistance of Captain Erika Ritter
Revised:  25 October 2013
 
 
A photocopy of the 1967 document was graciously provided by
Mr. James P. Clugston & Ms. Erin Condon of
Florida Defenders of the Environment
 
 
 
INTRODUCTION
By Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca
 
The St. Johns River Basin historically supported the most southern native and naturally reproducing population of striped bass in the United States. Striped bass, Morone saxatilis (formerly Roccus saxatilis), is also commonly known as "striper." Striped bass in more northern states with summertime cool coastal saltwater are classed as anadromous marine fish, living much of the time in tidewater but spawning far upstream in freshwater rivers. Stripers in Florida, however, are classed as riverine freshwater fish. Adult striped bass are also cool-water fish needing 70 to 80 degree F thermal refuges such as artesian springs and canopied streams for survival during hot weather. The spring-fed and originally mostly forest-lined Ocklawaha River (whose official spelling from 1892 to 1992 was "Oklawaha") is the largest stream-flow tributary of the St. Johns River.
 
Available fisheries research documents suggest that striped bass require about 50 miles of swift-flowing stream current (of at least 0.68 mph) for their fertilized eggs and larvae to be suspended-in for approximately 48 hours to avoid suffocating in bottom mud. Rodman Dam (a.k.a. Kirkpatrick Dam), constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers solely for the defunct Cross Florida Barge Canal project, was completed across the Ocklawaha River on September 30, 1968. The striper's strict reproductive requirement would identify the pre-Rodman impounded Ocklawaha River--which was 56 free-flowing stream miles of swift current from Silver Springs to the St. Johns--as probably being the only striped bass successful natural spawning habitat of the entire St. Johns River Basin.
 
The extremely low stream gradient (about 1/10th of the Ocklawaha's), with its resulting sluggish current, of the St. Johns River itself precludes the larger river from being suitable for the striper's reproductive needs. Lake Washington, near Melbourne, is 260 miles upriver from the mouth but less than 20 feet elevation above sea level--lower than Rodman Reservoir much of the time. There are not enough stream miles or stream-flow velocity and volume to allow striped bass natural reproduction in any of the other major tributaries of the St. Johns River: Econlockhatchee River (26 miles), Wekiva River (14 miles), Alexander Creek (13 miles), Juniper Creek (10 miles), Salt Springs Run (4 miles), Dunns Creek (6 miles), Black Creek (24 miles), etc.
 
Since 1970, striper replacement stocks in the St. Johns Basin have been hatchery raised and stocked by man. Successful natural reproduction seems to have ceased with the advent of Rodman Dam. During the springtime, adults of these St. Johns River man-reared striped bass attempt futile spawning runs attracted by the current of the lower Ocklawaha River but are blocked by Rodman Dam from proceeding any further upstream. Without a steady current in the still-water Cross Florida Barge Canal to guide them, only very few (if any) move back and forth through Buckman Lock. In recent years striped bass appear to be absent from the Ocklawaha River upstream of Rodman Reservoir (a.k.a. Rodman Pool or Lake Ocklawaha) as evidenced by a lack of striper observations or catches.
 
The stated mission of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is "Managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people." It would seem that attempting to restore a natural breeding population of Atlantic-race striped bass to their historic Ocklawaha River spawning habitat would be a worthy goal for the FWC to actively pursue. Wouldn’t the "long-term well-being" of a desirable Florida-native game-fish species with a very limited range in this state--the Atlantic-race striped bass--be better advanced by making its very existence in the St. Johns River Basin not only completely dependent upon the work of fish hatcheries?
 
Read this historic 1955 report of Ocklawaha River / Silver River
STRIPED BASS FISHING BEFORE RODMAN DAM WAS BUILT
 
End of INTRODUCTION by Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca


 
NOTE: Click-on individual pages to enlarge them!
 
Barkuloo, J. M. 1967. Florida Striped Bass. Fishery Bulletin No. 4. 24 pgs. Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Tallahassee, FL. Available as a hardcopy.
 
 
SOME EXCERPTED PAGES (OR PARTS OF) FOLLOW:
 
 
 
 
 
1962 photo of striped bass in Silver Springs/Silver River by Bruce Mozert
 
 
 
1962 photo of striped bass in Silver Springs/Silver River by Bruce Mozert
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1962 photo of striped bass in Silver Springs/Silver River by Bruce Mozert
 
 
REFERENCE AS:  Nosca, P. 2013. "1967 Florida striped bass St. Johns River, Ocklawaha River, Silver River and Silver Springs" webpage report. "Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca reports" website. Paul Nosca, Eureka, FL.
https://sites.google.com/site/ocklawahamanpaulnoscareports/1967-florida-striped-bass-ocklawaha-river-to-silver-springs
 
 
 
End.
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