Texas and California aren’t the only states where anglers catch big Florida-strain largemouth bass outside their native range.
Twice during January, Oklahoma’s Lake of the Arbuckles yielded five-fish limits weighing more than 40 pounds during tournaments. That’s an impressive 8-pound-plus average.
"Historically, Arbuckle has not been a great bass fishery. It was dominated by large numbers of small, slow-growing bass," said Gene Gilliland, assistant fisheries chief with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
"In the early 1990s, the Wildlife Department backed off on stocking Florida strain largemouth in Arbuckle because there was a period when the department didn't have enough production from the hatchery to stock Florida bass in very many lakes in the state."
About a decade ago, as the hatcheries' Florida strain largemouth production increased, the Wildlife Department resumed stocking them in Arbuckle and other Oklahoma lakes to enhance the trophy possibilities.
"Those fish have obviously matured," Gilliland said. "The fish that we stocked, or the offspring of those stocked fish, are now turning into these trophy bass that are being caught on a pretty regular basis for about the past three years."