Thursday, August 8, 2013

Adding Largemouths to the Mix

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is experimenting with largemouth bass stockings in Lake Allatoona. Photo courtesy of the GADNR.
Will stocking large numbers of young largemouth bass in Georgia's Lake Allatoona increase the abundance of largemouths relative to spotted bass in the lake? Biologists with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division don't know that answer for sure, but they intend to find out. And based on a similar experimental effort in another North Georgia lake, they have reason to believe it might work.

Allatoona, which is at the northern edge of the Atlanta metro area and is highly popular with bass fishermen, has become more of a spot lake than a largemouth lake in recent year, with largemouths now making up only 10 to 20 percent of the black bass population. Local anglers enjoy catching spots, but they generally favor largemouths, which grow larger than spots, and have hoped that something could be done to improve largemouth fishing.

Of the next few years, the GADNR will stock 1/4 million 1- to 2-inch largemouth fingerlings per year in the spring, plus several thousand 5- to 7- inch bass each fall. Biologists will closely monitor the black bass population throughout that period and for three more years so stocked fish that survive have time to grow and they can monitor individual year classes.

It'll be fun to see what this project reveals and how Georgia's stocking emphasis might shift if it is successful.

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