by Ted Alfermann
Each spring, FWC researchers, managers, and hatchery personnel coordinate broodfish collection, spawning, and stocking of Morones (i.e., White Bass, Striped Bass, and their hybrids). Fish are stocked in rivers and lakes from Pensacola to West Palm Beach, providing anglers the opportunity to catch some of the biggest and hardest fighting freshwater game fish in the state. The success of the Morone stocking program is evident by the seasonally-popular fisheries they produce – but can we make it better?
FWC fisheries biologists currently have two research projects aimed at improving hatchery efficiency and making fishing better for the public: (1) determining hatchery contribution to White Bass year class strength in the Ochlockonee River above Lake Talquin, and (2) determining which stocking sites most contribute to the Striped Bass fishery and broodstock collections below Lake Talquin Dam. Genetic information taken from fin clips of broodstock and fin clips from offspring in subsequent years will be used to determine results. With hatchery pond space becoming more limited, biologists hope to better understand how often stockings are needed, where successful stockings occur, and what number of fish are required to produce quality fisheries.
Stocking will continue in 2016, covering nine rivers and 22 lakes across the state. By offering anglers the chance to catch a diversity of game fish species and getting young anglers hooked on fishing with our hybrid bass stockings at Youth Conservation Center Network lakes, the Morone stocking program seeks to further the case that Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World now and in the future.