Everyone knows Bassmaster Elite Series pros can catch lots of bass at Toledo Bend — but as it turns out, they’re pretty good at stocking the reservoir with fingerlings, too.

On Saturday, 22 Elite anglers teamed up with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to stock about 10,000 Florida largemouth bass fingerlings in appropriate sites across the reservoir.

“Typically, fingerlings stocked into areas of good habitat will have a better chance of survival,” LDWF Biologist Manager Kristi Butler said. “Our goal with producing and stocking Florida largemouth bass is to increase anglers’ chances of catching larger than average bass, and the Florida/Northern hybrid largemouth bass grow larger than Louisiana’s native Northern largemouth bass.”

Since 1990, LDWF, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Toledo Bend Lake Association, the Sabine River Authority and the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission have worked together to release more than 28 million Florida-strain largemouth fingerlings into the reservoir. 

In 2016 alone, LDWF will produce and stock over 820,000 Florida largemouth bass fingerlings into Toledo Bend, helping to continue to rejuvenate the lake and increase catch rates.

And with only a few days remaining in the 2016 Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program — where anglers receive a free replica amount for releasing 10-pound-plus fish back into the reservoir — 139 fish qualified this year. In 2015, 81 bass were entered into the program.

“That kind of success doesn’t happen by accident. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries get it. They know what they’re doing and understand the impact and value of the resource they have here,” said Elite pro Kevin VanDam, who won the event with more than 96 pounds of bass over four days. “Their stocking of Florida-strain largemouth has really taken off and produced bigger bass here than ever before. As a result, the fishing is better, and Toledo Bend is a hot destination for anglers all over the country.”

The fingerlings were produced at Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery in central Louisiana, and were roughly 2 to 2½ inches in length.