Scientists trick nature, stock Lake Griffin with 200,000 unique largemouth bass
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Media contact: John Benton, 352-732-1225 or 352-516-7105; Nick Trippel, 352-732-1225; Joy Hill, 352-258-3426
Throughout March, fisheries managers from the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) have been
releasing more than 200,000 young Florida largemouth bass into Lake
County's Lake Griffin. Scientists at the FWC's Florida Bass
Conservation Center in Webster produced the juvenile bass, called
What's different about these fish is that managers
raised them using a special technique that produces young bass
large enough to be past a critical and vulnerable life stage before
"This larger size should increase their ability to
survive and ultimately increase the number of bass available for
anglers to catch," said FBCC fisheries biologist Rick Stout.
The FWC plan calls for stocking Lake Griffin for
the next two years using the same number of fingerling bass each
year. The fish stocked this year could reach 14 inches (the
legal minimum size limit for anglers to keep) within two years.
Lake Griffin, located in Leesburg, has long
suffered from low survival rates of juvenile bass produced
naturally within the lake. This affects the overall bass population
there, and FWC researchers hope that the larger, hatchery-reared
bass released in the lake will help increase the number of large
bass sought by anglers.
What makes this project unique is that this is the
first time fisheries managers have stocked such a large number of
bass so early in the spring.
"This is the result of coaxing the fish to
reproduce in October, which is several months earlier than they
would have spawned naturally," Stout said. "The young
hatchery-raised bass are approximately 4 inches long when we
release them, while most of the native bass have not even hatched
yet. That means a significant head start for this crop of
Hatchery personnel did this by controlling water
temperature and length of daylight in a series of tanks housing the
brood bass. After the small bass hatched, managers reared them on a
special diet in indoor tanks called raceways.
"The result is that fishery managers may have
another tool to help revive the bass fishery of a lake," Stout
Genetics of the bass used in this process is
another important component of this stocking project.
Scientists genetically tested the hatchery brood fish to ensure
that they were pure, Florida-strain largemouth bass.
"Genetic testing also allows us to identify these
fish throughout their lives as originating from the hatchery by
testing just a small clip from a fin. We no longer need to
place a mark or tag on a fish to identify it. This simplifies
testing how effective supplemental stocking is and is much less
stressful to the fish than marking or tagging," said fishery
biologist John Benton. Scientists will be evaluating the
success of this program through periodic samples and surveys of
For more information about this project, call John
Benton or Nick Trippel at the FWC's Eustis Fisheries Laboratory at
352-732-1225. See the July 2009 issue of "Fish Busters'
Bulletin" at MyFWC.com/Fishing for more information about the FWC's