The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries plans to stock fewer but larger pure Florida largemouth bass fingerlings into waters across the state later this spring, a biologist said.
Mike Wood, inland fisheries director for LDWF, said he believes the move to using fewer 2-inch fingerlings instead of more ¾-inch fish will pay off for anglers over time.
“Our idea on that is we think we’re going to get more bass into that natural population in the long run because they’ll survive so much better,” he said. “We think fewer large fingerlings will net a higher survival than will a larger number of small fingerlings.”
Depending upon the success of the spawn in the four hatcheries across the state, upwards of 2.5 million fish could be distributed to more than 30 bodies of water in April and May, according to the priority stocking report provided by LDWF.
“In the long run, our goal is to insert these fish into the population, and we feel like we’re able to do that with a larger fingerling in smaller numbers better than with lots of very small fish,” he said.
But the move to using larger fingerlings is harder for the hatcheries because of the cannibalistic nature of the tiny bass, Wood said.
“They can’t help it, so they’re going to eat each other and we lose numbers the longer we hold them, and that’s the frustration for our hatchery folks,” Wood said. “They’re cannibalistic like crazy, so every day we hold them, we have fewer and fewer fish.
“But again, with a larger fingerling I feel like I can get 10-to-1 better survival than with the very small ones.”
Wood also pointed out that an effort is being made to transport the larger fingerlings by boat to stocking sites that offer more cover for the young fish, rather than just releasing them near a landing.
“Heck, you could have a hungry school of longear sunfish out there at the boat ramp, and they’re going to hit you pretty hard,” he said.
The priority list for fingerling distribution is developed statewide with input from LDWF biologists, district managers and anglers, Wood said in an email.
“Each summer our district biologists prioritize stocking requests for waters in their respective districts,” Wood wrote. “The managers use several criteria in that process, including management objectives for the waterbody, consideration of sampling results, time since prior stocking and public input.
“To the extent practical, requests for each priority level are filled before fish are stocked into lower priority levels.”
Seven waterbodies each have a No. 1 priority stocking number for 2014, including Eunice City Lake, Lake Bruin, Bundick Lake, Nantachie Lake, False River, Caddo Lake and James Bayou and Toledo Bend.
By overall fingerlings requested, Toledo Bend leads the way with 820,880, followed by Bayou D’Arbonne Lake with 300,000 and Lake Bisteneau with 282,000.
Bayou D’Arbonne Lake is a Priority 2 listed waterbody, while Lake Bistineau is a Priority 5. Priority numbers range from 1 to 7, according to the report.
The seven waterbodies with a priority one listing account for 1,064,140 of the total 2,508,300 fingerlings requested across the state for 2014.
“It’s going to be contingent on our production,” Wood said, regarding how many requests might actually be fulfilled. “We just go down the list until we run out of fish, and the next year we do it again.”
By placing pure Florida largemouth bass into Louisiana’s waters, the hope is to increase the chances of creating more quality fish for anglers to catch, he said.
“We are responding to requests from anglers that started long ago when they saw other states, most notably Florida, Texas and California, producing large bass,” Wood said. “Our guys say, ‘We have some of the richest waters around. Why don’t we have larger bass?’
“So it’s a genetically-connected thing, and all we’re doing is inserting the genetics to allow for that potential.”
The entire 2014 stocking priority list is as follows:
District Stocking Priority Lake Name # Requested for 2014
1 Eunice City Lake 600
1 Lake Bruin 20000
1 Bundick Lake 34000
1 Nantachie Lake 31600
1 False River 6000
1 Caddo Lake and James Bayou 151060
1 Toledo Bend Reservoir 820880
2 Bayou D’Arbonne Lake 300000
2 Chicot Lake 28000
2 Cotile Lake 20000
2 Grand Bayou Reservoir 40000
2 Cross Lake 98920
2 Lake Killarny 400
2 Anacoco Lake 32000
3 Vernon Lake 42000
3 Black River Lake 20000
3 Turkey Creek 60000
3 Lake Fausse Point and Dauterive Lake 80000
3 Ivan Lake 6000
4 Red River (Shreveport To Dam 5) 70960
4 Poverty Point Reservoir 20000
4 Lacassine Pool 140000
4 Lake St. John 16000
4 Spring Bayou 42000
5 Cocodrie Lake 40000
5 Lake Bistineau 282000
5 Cheniere Brake Lake 3000
5 Lake Concordia 10000
6 Black Bayou Reservoir 11200
6 Bayou Teche 10000
7 Spanish Lake 24000
7 Cypress Bayou Reservoir 47680
Total Request 2,508,300