Black Basses FAQ
Do you have questions about black bass species? Read the black basses FAQ for answers.
Five species of black bass occur in Florida's fresh water. The largemouth bass is the largest and most popular of the species and probably occurs in every freshwater water body in the state. The other three species have a more limited distribution, are generally smaller than largemouth bass, and are mostly associated with rivers or streams. The Suwannee bass occurs naturally only in the Suwannee and Ochlockonee river watersheds. It was recently introduced into the Aucilla, St. Marks, Wacissa, and Wakulla rivers and their drainages. The shoal bass is the species with the most limited distribution. It only occurs in the Chipola and Apalachicola drainages. The spotted bass occurs in all rivers west of the Apalachicola River and the Apalachicola River and lastly the Choctaw Bass.
No. It would depend on the bass population present in the particular system. Most lakes and streams in Florida would not be stocked with largemouth bass because those bodies of water have abundant, diverse, and high quality vegetative habitat and the good growing conditions necessary for fish. Lakes with little aquatic vegetative habitat and poor recruitment of young bass to the fishery (i.e., not many young bass make it into the fishery) may be potential candidates for stocking. FWC biologists are currently working on criteria for stocking certain water bodies.
The term "drawdowns" refers to lowering the water level in lakes and reservoirs. Drawdowns can occur both naturally and artificially. During natural events, like droughts, the water level in many lakes will drop to very low levels; some small lakes may even go completely dry! Because these low-water episodes stimulate the growth of natural vegetation and prevent the build-up of unhealthy plant populations, the events can be very beneficial for lakes. Drawdowns also concentrate fish-both predators and prey-which can provide favorable conditions for some fish species such as the largemouth bass. Unfortunately, in many of Florida's systems, water control structures, such as dams and weirs, have prevented the water level from fluctuating as much as in the past. To mimic natural low-water events in some lakes, biologists try artificially lowering the water level, thereby creating an extreme drawdown.
FWC hatcheries will never be able to produce enough young bass in one year to mimic an extreme drawdown in a large lake. However, stocked bass could be used to supplement largemouth bass populations and extend the time frame between drawdowns in some situations such as those in Lake Talquin.
The fish must be healthy, and the water quality must be acceptable. Suitable water quality includes good dissolved oxygen levels and cool temperatures. If the stocking program is to be successful, the stocked fish must be able to survive and enter the fishery. To help increase the success of any stocking program, biologists must consider many factors, including food availability, timing of stocking, and number and size of fish to be stocked.
To view photos of the different black bass species found in Florida and to learn more about their life history and state and world record status, visit the Freshwater Fish Species Profiles page.