Here is a quick peek at the latest Florida strain Largemouth Bass being held at Bubbling Ponds Hatchery. These fish arrived from Florida several months ago and are averaging about 5-inches. They are trained to eat commercial feeds which will be critical in moving forward with our brood stock development. The goal is to have millions of Florida strain bass available for stocking from Arizona hatcheries in the near future.
If you’re wondering about how the Arizona Game and Fish Department project of stocking Florida-strain largemouth bass into Roosevelt Lake is going, well, it is far too early to make any conclusions. That said, early indications give a shred of hope for a robust population of catchable (8-10-inch bass) by next fall, and, in 4-5 years, the hope that trophy bass will be available at this rejuvenating fishery. These Florida-strain stockings, coupled with increased rainfall and an upcoming habitat improvement project, has the lake on its way back as a premier bass fishing lake in Arizona.
Time to geek out with some data.
Results from October 2015 Game and Fish surveys at Roosevelt Lake show spikes in populations from two distinct size classes.
The two far-left spikes of blue lines represent October 2015 results from 5.7 hours of electrofishing, compared to similar fall surveys in 2013 (red lines) and 2011 (green). All the rows measure frequency, or percent, of the total bass catch as they relate to size in inches.
This first row of blue lines (lengths of 2- to 3 1/2 inches) also indicated a healthy population of 5-6 month old largemouth bass, which possibly were boosted by spring 2015 stockings of
Florida-strain largemouth bass fry.
The next, highest row of spikes (6- to 8-inch bass) represents 1 1/2-year-old bass, possibly aided by stockings of Florida-strain fingerlings from this past spring, and/or the spring 2014 stockings of fry.
Note the green lines representing 2011 surveys and red lines from 2013 surveys showing a significant drop in frequency of young bass.
Again, this was only one survey, and at least two more surveys will be needed to make reliable conclusions.
OK, geek-out session over.
What we mean is: the “Rebound at Rosy” seems to be in progress.
I spent the morning at the AZGFD's Mesa office helping construct concrete habitat ball's that will soon be placed in one of our warm water reservoirs. The AZGFD has quite a simple assembly system in place, about 15 people assemble the molds on Tuesday, the concrete gets poured, another team comes in on Thursday to disassemble the forms and stage the balls for future use. Authorization to place the habitats in our lakes is still a couple of months away, awaiting authorization from the various federal government agencies who claim some form of jurisdiction over this project, but once these approvals are acquired, the AZGFD will have a green light to place habitat in all of our desert lakes. I also met Amberlea Jones, who is the Habitat Specialist with the AZGFD. Youthful and full of energy, Amberlea, along with the rest of the AZGFD, have a grand vision for our lakes to improve the catch rates in order to make fishing more fun for more people. Here is the schedule for the rest of the year, no experience required.
Assemble and PourTear Down
11/10/2015 (Tuesday) 11/12/2015 (Thursday)
12/4/2015 (Friday) 12/5/2015 (Saturday)
1/13/2015 (Wednesday) 1/15/2015 (Friday)
February TBD February TBD
March TBD March TBD
Andy Clark, Assistant Chief of Fisheries and Sport-fish Management for the AZGFD, joined the Midweek Bass Anglers at their November club meeting and shared some exciting updates the department is making to improve the quality of bass fishing in the state of Arizona.
Earlier this year, they acquired several hundred Florida strain largemouth bass for the sole purpose of developing Arizona’s own bass stocking program, these fish are being raised at the Bubbling Ponds Hatchery located in Page Springs, AZ. Though it will likely be a few years before these bass grow into breeders and begin reproducing, the process has begun. There were a variety of challenges in creating a satisfactory environment in which to breed bass, but the department has developed key relationships with both Florida and Texas, two states with premier bass stocking programs, and is using this shared information and experience to help get the program off to a solid start. The Midweek Bass Angler’s partnership through financial contributions has played a key role in getting this program started.
As with anything important in life, proper planning is always the key to success, and creating great fisheries is no different. Andy shared the department’s efforts in developing a strategic plan for each of our warm water lakes, lakes that are home to largemouth bass. These plans are broad in scope, but also specific in regard to execution. The formation of these plans will make it easier to get the additional funding necessary to implement the actions and improve the quality of warm water fishing in Arizona. As a part of this plan, the department has hired key personnel to oversee specific areas that includes both a bass biologist and a habitat expert. In addition, the department is in the process of purchasing a large barge that is capable of transporting and placing the hundreds of large cement reef ball habitats that have been made over this past year.
Andy shared the AZGFD’s tremendous appreciation for the support by the Midweek Bass Anglers contributions and commitment. Though it will likely be years before the fruits of these efforts will be truly realized, the Midweek Bass Anglers have played a vital role in this conservation project that will be enjoyed for generations to come.
Fishing Wednesdays, not weekends.