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Hatcheries Give Bass A Boost

More people fish for bass in Kentucky than any other kind of fish. Anglers love catching bass because they fight larger than their size.

Bass are muscular freshwater bullies configured to overwhelm their prey with a slashing ambush attack. They aren’t easily intimidated. Even small bass won’t hesitate to go after a baitfish nearly its own size. Their
fight is only one of the reasons anglers
love to catch bass. There’s also availability: nearly any farm pond, river, or lake contains largemouth bass. Most clear-running streams and rocky deep lakes in eastern and central Kentucky support smallmouth bass.

However, bass populations sometimes need help. Bass in a lake or river might experience a bad spawning year—a problem that can be caused by unstable water conditions or heavy siltation in the spring—or just not do well in a location due to localized conditions. That’s when biologists with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources give bass a boost.

Researchers began a bass initiative in 2005 to keep fish numbers stable in small and medium-sized lakes. When there’s a poor spawn in the spring, biologists can return to the lake that fall and stock it with bass at the rate of 10-15 fish an acre.

The idea is not to stuff a lake full of fish, but to maintain bass numbers at consistent levels from year to year.

Not all lakes get stocked. Kentucky’s two state hatcheries, which produce many kinds of fish, already operate at full capacity. Only 140,000 bass for lakes are available for stocking each year.

This year, the department took a novel approach to replenishing fish to lakes in need. Researchers took largemouth bass out of Beaver Lake in Anderson County—a lake that needed numbers thinned to allow the remaining fish to grow larger—and moved them to two other lakes. This should provide better fishing at all three lakes.

Smallmouth bass anglers haven’t been overlooked. This spring, biologists took several broodfish from Dale Hollow Lake. Their offspring were spawned at a state hatchery and stocked at Paintsville Lake and Dale Hollow. With the world-class genetics offered by the Dale Hollow fish—and changes to Paintsville Lake designed to make it more hospitable to cool-water fish—eastern Kentucky could one day have a trophy smallmouth bass lake.


INSIDER TIPS

Hunters can now apply for deer and small-game quota hunts online at www.fw.ky.gov. Those without Internet access can apply by phone at (877) 598-2401. Applications are taken during September only. Consult your hunting guide for available hunts and dates.

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