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Entries in Florida bass (50)


Bed Fishing Has Little Impact on Florida Bass

Ongoing research by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), suggests that fishing  beds for the Florida strain of largemouth bass has little, if any, impact on populations--- if those fish are not harvested.

          Results "indicated that fish captured during the spawning period contributed significantly to fall recruitment, despite being removed from their nests," reported Nick Trippel and other biologists who participated in two projects.

          They added, "Genetic analysis of over 3,249 Florida bass fall recruits collected over two years provided evidence that nest fishing may not significantly impact the number of adults contributing to reproduction or the average number of recruits produced per adult."

          In this study, researchers set up hatchery ponds, each stocked with 10 pairs of mature Florida bass. For two years, half of the ponds were fished and the other half were not. If caught, fish were held for one hour and then released. Biologists snorkeled the ponds every other day to document the number of nests made and confirm that the nests in the fished ponds were being pressured.

          After the spawn, the ponds were left alone until October, when they were drained and the number of young produced in each was counted. Using fin clips to obtain DNA, biologists determined the parental contribution from each pond.

           Genetic results  revealed that fish that were caught off nests still contributed as many juveniles to the recruited year class as did fish that were not caught, they reported. "These results reveal that fishing for nesting Florida Bass likely does not have any negative population level impacts."

          In the other study, conducted  on three lakes during the spring of 2012 and again in 2015, they observed nests that were randomly placed in three test groups: never fished, catch-and-immediate release, and catch and hold for one hour, before being released 1,000 meters down the shoreline.

          "There were no statistical differences in nest success rates between the three treatment groups: 32 percent for controls, 27 percent for catch-and-release, and 27 percent for catch and hold," the biologists said. "Lake, male size, and brood stage were better predictors for nest success rates than angling treatments were. Nest success was higher for smaller males than larger males."

          The length of the spawning season likely helps explain why fishing for bedding bass has little if any negative impact.  Mike Allen, a fisheries expert at the University of Florida, reported graduate student Stephanie Shaw found the average male raises at least two broods a year.

          "The long spawning season in the southern states makes this feasible," he said. "It's less likely that males can successfully raise more than one brood in the northern states, where total spawning duration may be only a period of two to three weeks."

          Allen added that bass are not "total spawners," as are trout and salmon. Rather, they are "batch spawners," which means their eggs are spread over multiple spawning events yearly. "Genetic studies have confirmed that female bass spawn with multiple males across a given spawning season," he said.

          Still, all of this is not to say that bed fishing could not have an negative impact on bass populations in some cases. "Bed fishing that involves a high harvest component may display results significantly different than this experiment (test ponds)," the FWC biologists said.

          "However, we feel that results are applicable to bass fisheries around Florida, as the majority of bass being caught, 70 to 99 percent, are voluntarily released and harvest rates are less than 10 percent."

          Additionally, they cautioned, the pond study was not designed to measure "deleterious impacts" that might be associated with fishing specifically for trophy bass. 

           "However, this study was designed to simulate a worst case scenario in which every nest created throughout the entire spawning season was vulnerable to angling. This is likely not the case in larger public waterbodies with higher habitat complexities."

          And finally, here's a revelation that will not surprise many anglers who have been frustrated in their attempts to entice bedding bass: "We also saw that catch rates of Florida bass while on nests were lower than expected, suggesting that Florida bass are less vulnerable to angling than previously thought," the biologists said.


Kurth Reservoir Yields First Texas ShareLunker Ever

For the first time in the 32-year history of the Toyota ShareLunker program, Kurth Reservoir in Lufkin has produced a largemouth bass entry exceeding 13 pounds. Angler Pablo Torres Jr., of Lufkin, caught the 13.34-pound, 26-inch Legacy Class lunker in less than 8 feet of water while fishing with his son-in-law March 25.

“At first I didn’t even know it was a fish – it thought I was hung up,” Torres said. “I tightened up, and it started swimming, and when it started pulling the line, I thought ‘this might be a good fish.’”
“Catching a ShareLunker from Kurth was the farthest from my dreams until I saw it in the net,” Torres added. “When we got it to the boat and it turned to the side, my jaw dropped and I thought ‘Oh my gosh.'”
Although he has seen and heard of larger fish being caught from Kurth, Torres said being the first angler to enter a Toyota ShareLunker from the lake was a great feeling. He decided to loan the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program for spawning to contribute to the number of Florida largemouth bass being stocked in his area.
“Kurth is a fantastic lake with a lot of lunkers in it,” Torres said. “[Texas Parks and Wildlife Department] stocks a lot of the ‘Floridas’ in Sam Rayburn Reservoir and other surrounding lakes, so this is a good way for me to help contribute to the area. And this fish will be released back to Kurth when they are done with it.”
Todd Driscoll, the TPWD Inland Fisheries District Supervisor for the Jasper district, said he was not surprised at all to hear that the East Texas lake had produced a Toyota Sharelunker entry.
“This lake has everything it needs to produce big fish – including ample amounts of aquatic vegetation like hydrilla, which covers 30-40 percent of the reservoir,” Driscoll said. “That produces really strong year classes of fish. In addition to a 16-inch maximum limit, we have also been stocking it for years with frequent stockings of pure Florida largemouth bass to increase trophy potential of lake.”
ShareLunker 575 is the fifth Legacy Class entry of the season with the previous entries coming from Twin Buttes Reservoir and Lake Fork. 
ShareLunker 575 was transported to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens where hatchery staff will monitor and care for her in preparation for spawning. Also in the “Lunker Bunker” are the four other Legacy Class entries of the season: Toyota ShareLunker 574, a 13.40 pound largemouth bass caught by angler Austin Terry from Twin Buttes Reservoir March 14; Toyota ShareLunker 573, a 13.06 pound largemouth bass caught by angler Alex Finch from Lake Fork March 11; Toyota ShareLunker 572, a 13.00 pound largemouth bass caught by angler Michael Terrebonne from Lake Fork March 8; and Toyota ShareLunker 571, a 15.48 pound largemouth bass caught by angler John LaBove from Lake Fork March 2.
Texas anglers who catch a 13 pound or larger largemouth bass can loan the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program for spawning through March 31.
Every angler who loans a 13 pound or larger Legacy Class bass to the Toyota ShareLunker program during the spawning period Jan. 1 to March 31 will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ Legacy decal, VIP access to awards programming at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. These anglers will also be entered into the Legacy Class Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license at the end of the spawning period March 31.
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a longtime supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.
For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker program and to view photos of all of the 13-pound-plus largemouth bass caught this season, go here or here.


Another Big Bass From Tennessee's Lake Chickamauga

 Lake Chickamauga yielded another huge bass on Dec. 30, as Todd Beaty boated a largemouth that weighed 14.53 pounds, just ounces shy of the state record. It was 28 inches long, with a girth of 22 1/4 inches.

Two years ago on Chickamauga, which has been stocked with Florida strain bass, Gabe Keen claimed the record with a fish that weighed 15.20 pounds.

"I caught the big one about 10:30," Beaty said. "We were fishing a main channel point. The boat was sitting in 15 to 17 feet of water. I was throwing a (Tennessee) rig up on the point. She hit in about five or six feet of water."


Habitat Added For Tiger Bass At Smith Mountain Lake

Smith Mountain Lake received much needed shallow-water habitat enhancement this past fall, just in time to benefit the first spawn of F-1 Tiger bass in the 20,000-acre impoundment this spring.

For the past three years, private funds have paid for the state-approved stocking of the Tiger, a cross between Florida bass and a strain of northern largemouth bred especially for its aggressive feeding behavior. The Tiger begins reproducing in its third year, so offspring from that first stocking likely will find shelter from predation in the 105 Mossback fish structures.

"In most areas, shorelines at Smith Mountain Lake do not have much cover for these small fish anymore so they are more vulnerable to predation and the survival of some species of young fish has declined since they require places to hide while they are young," said Dan Wilson, fisheries biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF).

Assisted by volunteers from the Smith Mountain Lake Association, staffers from VDGIF and Appalachian Power, which funded the project, placed clusters of the structures in 4 to 10 feet of water. 

Wilson said that rocks and pilings in the shallows are not intricate enough to protect young-of-the-year bass that need spaces to hide in and evade larger fish.

“With projects like this, we can provide needed habitat that works well for the fish without restricting the usage by lakes residents and others who enjoy recreating on the lake," he said.


Florida's TrophyCatch Celebrates Five Years

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) TrophyCatch program celebrated five years of bass conservation at its annual Hall of Fame ceremony held at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Orlando. In the past five seasons, TrophyCatch has awarded prizes for the catch and release of more than 6,868 largemouth bass.

“We want to thank all of our partners and anglers for their commitment to conservation,” said Tom Champeau, FWC’s Director of the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management.

“We now have 47 Hall of Fame anglers in the TrophyCatch program, and this event honors their skill in catching a bass of a lifetime and submitting their data to the FWC to assist in the management of our trophy bass fisheries.”

Sixteen Hall of Fame anglers were recognized for their catch and release of a largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or heavier in Florida. The Hall of Fame anglers each received Bass Pro Shops gift cards, Spiderwire merchandise, a custom fiberglass replica mount made by New Wave Taxidermy and a plaque from American Registry commemorating their catch.

The Season 5 Champion, Dominic Montalto, received the TrophyCatch trophy for catching and releasing the heaviest bass of the season at 16 pounds, 12 ounces, caught in a neighborhood pond in Lee County.

The TrophyCatch “Big Bag Prize” was awarded to Arthur Jackson for his catch and release of the most bass with the heaviest combined weight in Season 5. He caught and released 16 bass with a total combined weight of 141.625 pounds. Jackson received a Shimano prize pack, along with a Lake County Tourism prize pack of a three-day, two-night stay in Lake County with a guided fishing trip with professional angler Tim Frederick.

TrophyCatch is a partnership between FWC biologists, anglers and fishing industry leaders such as Bass Pro Shops, that rewards the catch, documentation and release of largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or heavier in Florida. In order to be eligible for prizes, anglers are required to submit photos or videos of their catch to, showing the fish’s weight on a scale, before releasing it back into the water.

FWC biologists use TrophyCatch data for bass research, to make informed decisions about the management of Florida bass fisheries and to promote the catch and release of trophy bass. TrophyCatch is supported by many generous partners, such as Bass Pro Shops.

The FWC encourages anglers to join TrophyCatch as citizen-scientists that assist in fisheries management and the conservation of Florida’s lakes and rivers. A new TrophyCatch mobile app is available for download on both Apple and Android devices