Approximately 40 years ago, I left graduate school after completing a research project entitled “Age and Growth of Largemouth Bass in Lake Eufaula”. Soon after, I accepted a job as a District Fisheries Biologist and for a short period of time, I felt I was one of the world’s foremost authorities on anything to do with largemouth bass. This was very short lived. Now after working on thousands of lakes and assisting in the production of tens of millions of bass fingerlings, I realize how little I knew then and how little I know now. However, I have gained a little knowledge along this journey.
In this article I would like to attempt to answer some of the more frequently asked questions I receive from lake owners and fishermen.
How big does a bass have to be to spawn?
I have seen bass that were 7 inches and fat spawn. Usually bass will spawn when they are one year old and approximately one pound in size in ponds in the south. In reservoirs and streams they may reach 6 to 7 inches at age one and spawn at age two.
How many eggs does a female have?
Females may have from 3,000 to 30,000 eggs per pound of body weight. We usually figure about 5-10,000 eggs per pound for production purposes. Also, females usually do not release all their eggs. We have moved females that have already spawned to a new pond and get about 30 to 40 % of the eggs that we got on the first spawn.
How long will a bass live?
Bass in cooler areas tend to live longer. The maximum would be 16 to 20 years. The average bass would usually live 5 to 10 years.
Tracking the Tiger: Tiger Bass and Their Growth in the Southeast
By Barry W. Smith Certified Fisheries Scientist
Tiger Bass® is a buzzword among pond owners and bass anglers throughout the Southeast. Word of its success has traveled overseas to such unlikely places as Japan and Italy. What is this fish, where does it come from, and what is the real scoop on its growth.
The name “Tiger Bass” is actually a registered trademark of American Sport Fish Hatchery in Montgomery, Ala. This name refers to the specific cross developed at American Sport Fish, utilizing its strain of aggressive, pure northern largemouth bass bred with a strain of proven trophy Florida largemouth bass. The purpose of this particular breeding was to create a true F-1 bass that would be easy to catch and have a rapid growth rate. Private lake consultants from Georgia to Texas have distributed Tiger Bass from American Sport Fish to their clients.
The term F-1 is used in the scientific community to denote the offspring resulting from the mating of two different species, subspecies or genetic strains of animals. In this case, F-1 refers to the breeding of the two recognized subspecies of largemouth bass: Florida bass, Micropterus salmoides Floridanus, and the northern bass, Micropterus salmoides salmoides.
There are more than 2.5 million ponds scattered across the United States. Most of these ponds provide fair to excellent recreational fishing opportunities.
However, a variety of problems can affect pond fisheries as they age. Some of these problems are population imbalances due to poor management, the introduction of nuisance or unwanted species, and siltation or other loss of habitat. Most problems can be addressed and remedied by utilizing traditional management practices such as harvest strategies or corrective restocking.
Occasionally, problems become so severe that renovation of the pond is warranted. One of the benefits of managing ponds as compared to large lakes, rivers or reservoirs is that when pond fisheries decline in quality, we have the option to simply start over. Pond renovation can be complete where all the fish are eradicated by draining the pond or by eliminating the fish with the use of rotenone. Rotenone is an EPA approved fish toxicant.
A pond does not have to be invaded by a nuisance species to be considered a candidate for renovation. It is often quicker and less expensive to renovate a fishery that is severely out of balance than to rely on traditional measures such as harvest and supplemental stocking of forage. Once a largemouth bass population becomes severely stunted, there is a good chance that the stunted fish will never reach their full potential. This is often the case in old ponds that have been neglected for years. In such cases, even the best management practices will not improve such a fishery to the level that can be created over the same period of time in a newly renovated pond.
Welcome to American Sport Fish Hatchery, the Southeast’s premier source for fish stocking and pond maintenance services. We have everything you need to maintain your pond or lake, including largemouth bass, coppernose bluegill, grass carp, black crappie, threadfin shad and fathead minnows. And we’re the only place you’ll find Tiger Bass, an aggressive, easy-to-catch largemouth bass created by our scientific team. American Sport Fish also offers a full spectrum of pond management goods and services, such as pond fertilizer, aerators, automatic fish feeders, herbicides, agricultural lime application and electrofishing balance surveys. Our professional staff will help you assess your fish population and make the necessary recommendations to maximize your pond’s productivity. Click on the links above to learn more about our offerings and see why we are one of the most respected sport fish hatcheries in the country, with a client list that includes pro bass fishermen, NFL players, entertainers and two former U.S. presidents.
A Word From Our Founders...
Watch A Video of Spawning Bass
Man-eating Tiger Bass
Threadfin Shad Winter Kills
Threadfin shad are great supplemental forage for both bass and crappie in fertilized ponds. They spawn multiple times during the spring and summer and the adult shad are always in the size range that bass can eat. Adult shad seldom exceed 5 to 6 inches. Threadfins are sexually mature at a size of 2.5 inches and the offspring of a spring spawn will be mature by the end of the summer and often spawn in late summer or early fall. Almost all lakes that are successfully managed for largemouth bass contain threadfin shad as an additional forage species.
The single drawback to threadfin shad is they are susceptible to winter kills. These kills do not typically occur every year in the southeast. The farther from the Gulf Coast, the more likely you will experience a kill in the threadfin population. Ponds and lakes that have a third of the lake with depths greater than 15 feet are more likely to have survival of some shad even in cold winters. Ponds and lakes that ice-over for several consecutive days are likely to experience a shad kill.
Although water temperatures below 38 F will cause mortality, the number of consecutive cold days plays an important part in mortality. Threadfin can be stressed by low temperatures and the fish will swim slowly, becoming easy prey to bass, crappie and larger catfish. Many of these stressed will be eaten by fish and birds, never showing up on the shoreline. Just because you never see dead fish on the shoreline does not mean you did not have threadfin mortality.
This has been a much colder winter than we have experienced for the past four years. It is always a good idea to re-stock threadfin in the spring or early summer to insure you do not miss a year without shad.
Stock Your Pond!
By stocking the right kind of fish and following a well-developed plan of maintenance and fertilization, you can grow trophy-sized fish in your pond. Let American Sport Fish Hatchery help you reach your pond's maximum potential!
Have A Perfect Pond
Perfect Pond Plus is truly a revolutionary tool for maintaining the perfect balance in your pond. It is easy to apply, water soluble, and will not clump.