Oklahoma lakes get infusion of Florida strain of largemouth bass

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation stocked 44 lakes with a record 2.22 million tiny fry and fingerling-sized Florida strain largemouth bass, which grow faster and larger than the largemouth bass native to Oklahoma waters.
by Ed Godfrey Published: July 27, 2013

However, there are exceptions. Bixhoma is a lake north of I-40 where Florida bass have thrived, and biologists really don't know why.

“Bixhoma is an oddball where this happens,” Sager said. “We don't always know the recipe.”

Sooner Lake is north of I-40, but it is a power plant lake where the water stays warmer year-round.

For big lakes such as Eufaula and Texoma, two lakes very popular with anglers but not necessarily for largemouth bass, ODWC is stocking fewer Florida fry but now targeting only quality areas with good bass habitat.

ODWC is not trying to increase the number of largemouth bass in lakes through the stocking of Florida bass, Sager said. The agency is trying to improve the quality or size of fish in the future, he said.

“All we are trying to do is simply influence the genetics of the population,” he said.

The success of the program is measured by the number of big bass caught by anglers or by ODWC officials in its spring electro-fishing surveys. Tissue samples are often taken to determine if a fish's DNA is from a Florida bass.

Of the last two state record largemouth bass caught from Cedar Lake, the first was a pure Florida bass and the latter and current state record was a hybrid, a cross between a Florida and a native largemouth.

Typically, it will take six to eight years for a Florida bass to grow into what is considered a trophy-size.

by Ed Godfrey
Reporter Sr.
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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