Florida bass arrive at Lake Jacksonville

By Don Wallace


This is a story about the fish that didn’t get away.

Tuesday morning officials from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stocked 110,000 Florida largemouth bass in Lake Jacksonville.

More than 10,000 were stocked last week, to bring the total to over 120,000 fingerlings placed in the 1,352 acre lake.

In recent months, Lake Jacksonville has only gained noticed due to the hydrilla problem which has prompted the stocked of grass carp. The Florida bass were stocked for a completely different reason.

“They were stocked for genetics, we are trying to bring the population of fish in Lake Jacksonville to about 20 percent Florida bass,” said Jeff Bowling, TPWD official.

More Florida largemouths equals more trophy fish in the long run for Lake Jacksonville. But don’t think about hooking a lunker Florida bass any time soon.

The fish arrived as fingerlings, only a couple of inches long and two months old. They can’t be caught until they are at least 18 inches long according state regulations. These Florida bass won’t be “trophy size” 13 pounds or larger for probably 10 years.

TPWD’s Pat Beck said he hopes the second stocking of the fish will give them a good chance to survive in the lake. “They were placed in containers of 10,000 each and moved to places with good vegetation to give them the maximum chance for survival,” Beck said. The entire operation was scheduled to take about four hours.

“We’ve had good success with the Florida largemouth before,” Beck said. “They are easily acclimated to the area, since they are from Florida stock they are used to our kind of weather and water temperatures.”

The fish were delivered by truck from the TPWD hatchery in Jasper. The Florida fingerlings are approximately two months old. The hatchery has had a very active spring season stocking fish in area lakes.

Beck said a recent shocking of the lake proved that Florida bass were doing well in Lake Jacksonville.

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