With recent stocking of one million largemouth bass, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) continues its decades long efforts to restore Lake Apopka as a sport fishery.
"The FWC’s Richloam Fish Hatchery staff spawned the genetically pure Florida largemouth bass at two separate times a year, instead of just once, specifically for Lake Apopka," the agency said.
"Pure Florida largemouth bass tend to grow bigger than other species found in other parts of the country. Stocking the lake earlier than usual ensures that larger bass are going into the lake, which allows them a better chance of survival, as there is a more abundant food source available."
Fifty years ago, the 31,000-acre lake was considered one of the nation's best bass fisheries. But municipal and agricultural pollution, along with muck farming that destroyed much of the lake's filtering system, sent it into steep decline. Still today, it has a large organic sediment layer, dense algae blooms, and limited plant growth.
But significant strides have been made to improve water quality, including a marsh flow-way system, restoration of wetlands, and a commercial gizzard shad harvest program that helps limit re-suspension of phosphorus from bottom sediments. Additionally, the Florida Legislature appropriated $4.8 million in 2012 for re-establishing beneficial aquatic plants and placing brush attractors, as well as dredging of access channels and bank fishing sites.
Since the early 1990s, FOLA has been dedicated to educating the public about Apopka's plight and generating support for restoration and conservation of Florida's third largest lake.