MT. IDA — Lake Ouachita will receive another dose of Florida bass through direct stockings for anglers, but this year will see an added boost of Florida bass through the lake’s nursery pond as well as direct stockings.
According to Brett Hobbs, district fisheries supervisor at the AGFC’s Hot Springs office, the nursery pond on the west end of the lake has been prepared with fathead minnows to serve as forage for Florida bass fingerlings when the Andrew Hulsey State Fish Hatchery completes this year’s spawning operations.
“Approximately 50,000 Florida Largemouth Bass fingerlings about 2 inches long will be stocked around late May or early June,” Hobbs said. “They can eat the minnows in the pond with no competition. By the time they are released into Lake Ouachita this fall, they will likely be about 4 inches average length.”
Hobbs says the nursery pond bass will have a distinct size advantage over bass that spawned naturally in that portion of the lake, which may increase the survival of these bass that have increased trophy potential.
Vic DiCenzo, the AGFC’s Black Bass Program Coordinator, says using the nursery pond to increase survival fills a role of many successful stocking attempts.
“Historically throughout the Southeast, the chances of successful introgression of Florida bass genetics into a system are increased if stocking is done on a year with low reproductive success,” DiCenzo said. “Adding more bass to a good year class of fish can create issues with competition that reduce survival of the stocked fish. Giving these fish a boost should help them overcome such competition.”
Hobbs says the nursery pond isn’t the only source of Florida bass for Ouachita this year. Roughly 100,000 Florida bass fingerlings will be stocked from the Andrew Hulsey Hatchery directly into the Rabbittail area on the