FWC stocks Orange Lake with 100,000 bass fingerlings
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Media contact: Karen Parker, 386-758-0525
More than 100,000 bass fingerlings now call Orange Lake home after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) stocked the recovering lake.
Orange Lake, about 20 miles southeast of Gainesville, is a 12,550-acre fish management area. Recent fish surveys revealed depressed fish populations, particularly in largemouth bass.
“When water levels are high, the lake has a first-class bass fishery,” said Allen Martin, FWC regional freshwater fish biologist. “However, during the last couple of years, the lake was reduced to approximately one-tenth its normal size due to drought conditions, which impacted the fishery.”
Now that water levels are at the highest point they’ve been in 10 years, the FWC wants to rebuild the bass fishery. To start the process, the fingerlings made the trip to Orange Lake from the Florida Bass Conservation Center (FBCC) in Webster.
The bass conservation center is a state-of-the-art fish hatchery and research facility dedicated to reproducing and conserving Florida’s largemouth bass and other popular freshwater fishes. With 63 ponds outside and numerous raceways inside, it can produce more than 6 million fish a year.
“Since existing populations are so low right now, the fingerlings should help jump-start the Orange Lake recovery,” Martin said. “We are stocking the lake with advanced fingerlings, which are larger fish.”
The fish were transported in large, aerated water tanks, with approximately 12,500 fingerlings in each tank. Lake water was pumped into the tanks to acclimate the fingerlings to the temperature of the lake. The fish were then transferred to tanks on FWC boats, which carried the fingerlings out to different areas of the lake. Biologists released the fish into their new home.
“Someone’s future TrophyCatch is now swimming in Orange Lake,” Martin said.
For more information about FWC’s TrophyCatch incentive-based conservation program, go to TrophyCatchFlorida.com.