The annual water management period for fish spawning officially began April 5 in the Savannah River Basin—and so far, conditions are favorable for a very productive spawn, said Jamie Sykes, fisheries biologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District.
According to Sykes, spawning season begins when surface water temperatures reach 65 degrees Fahrenheit at Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond lakes.
“We use 65 degrees as a starting point since that’s the preferred spawning temperature for largemouth bass, which is the most popular sport fish on our Savannah River reservoirs,” Sykes said. “But that temperature also falls within the spawning season for other species, so it benefits multiple species.”
During this period—which typically lasts between four and six weeks—water managers aim to maintain pool elevations with no more than a six inch drop in reservoir levels. Sykes said that a slight increase in pool elevation during spawning season is permissible, but drastic increases can be just as troublesome for spawning as rapid decreases.