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Area Lakes Will Be Stocked With Florida Largemouth Bass
By Todd Driscoll

 

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Fish stockings have been used for many years to develop populations in new reservoirs and to supplement populations in existing reservoirs. The state of Texas has a long history with fish stockings, going back to the 1890's with the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), then known as the Texas Game, Fish, and Oyster Commission, began stocking hatchery-raised largemouth bass in 1941. Hatchery production greatly increased during the 1960's, which resulted in more widespread stockings.

Up through the 1970's, only native northern largemouth bass were stocked. During that period, TPWD started to experiment with the Florida largemouth bass, a largemouth bass subspecies native to Florida. Earlier work by the state of California indicated that Florida largemouth bass had superior growth rates and greater potential to reach larger sizes when compared to the native northern largemouth bass. In 1972, TPWD first introduced Florida largemouth bass into public reservoirs.

The Florida largemouth bass stocking program has been extremely successful in many of our reservoirs. For example, the long-standing 1943 state record largemouth bass of 13.5 pounds was broken in 1980 by a Florida largemouth bass weighing 14.1 pounds. Since then, many fish exceeding the 1980 record have been caught and it now takes a fish over 15 pounds to be included in the list of the top 50 largemouth bass caught in Texas!

Currently, objectives of this program are to increase bass fishing quality by increasing the size of fish caught and to provide more trophy fish. A common misconception is that these Florida bass are stocked to increase overall bass numbers. These fish are not stocked in an attempt to increase numbers of bass, but to add/increase Florida largemouth bass genes to the existing gene pool. In our larger reservoirs, Mother Nature primarily controls the number of young bass produced every year. The number of young bass produced naturally fluctuates from year to year and is primarily dependent upon habitat conditions and food availability.

Typically, reservoirs have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for Florida bass stockings. In reservoirs that have produced trophy bass, Florida bass can be stocked if current data indicate that pure Florida largemouth bass comprise < 20% of the population. Reservoirs without a history of producing lunkers are also stocked with Florida bass, but only if the total Florida bass alleles (including both pure Floridas and crosses with native northern bass) are < 20 % of the population. Florida largemouth bass are scheduled to be stocked from May ñ July in several of our area reservoirs, including Nacogdoches (55,000 fingerlings), Kurth (14,000), Adams Bayou (50,000), Cow Bayou (50,000), Sam Rayburn (500,000), and Toledo Bend (500,000). In fact, if you look at just Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend, over 9 million Florida bass fingerlings have been stocked since 1994. In addition, TPWD is currently conducting research at Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend in an attempt to increase the impact these stockings have on our bass populations.

If you have questions concerning the fisheries of our area lakes, stop by the Inland Fisheries office at the Jasper State Fish Hatchery or contact us by phone (409-384-9572) or email (todd3d@jas.net). Good luck and good fishing!

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