JACKSON – On June 4, several northeast Mississippi anglers assisted the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) with stocking approximately 200,000 Florida-strain largemouth bass fingerlings into Columbus and Aberdeen Lakes on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (TTW). The fish were reared at the MDWFP’s Turcotte Fish Hatchery near Canton, and averaged 3-inches in length. District 1 Fisheries Biologist Jason Olive said the regular stockings of Florida-strain largemouth bass is part of MDWFP management plans for each of the two lakes; and the goal is to increase the number of trophy-size bass in these lakes. The Florida-strain bass grow faster than the native bass that are naturally produced in the TTW, and are more likely to reach a larger size during their lifespan.
Olive emphasized that the assistance of local bass anglers is critical in improving the survival of these small fish. Typically, areas near boat ramps are not prime habitat for juvenile bass to survive and grow, and they are exposed to predators with nowhere to hide. So, as a remedy, local anglers provide the boats and manpower to transport the fish from the boat ramp to other areas of the lake that have good habitat such as aquatic plants and brush piles. While it is unlikely that anglers fishing the two lakes will see overall increased catch rates as a result of these stockings, the number of large bass should improve within a few years. A 14-inch minimum length limit that went into effect in April on both lakes should also help increase the number of fish that reach larger sizes.
For more information about fishing in Mississippi visit www.mdwfp.com.