Should I Monitor Bass Genetics?
Trophy bass are no different from winners of the Kentucky Derby, world-class hunting dog competitions, or livestock shows. They are not random breeds. They descend from ancestors with genetic qualities that make them exceptional leaders.
When hatcheries assemble brood stock to produce bass, they seek best of the best females with exceptional growth rates. They rotate new male and female brooders from year to year so genetic qualities remain vibrant and don’t become diluted. Record, world-class fish resemble star athletes in your favorite hall of fame. They possess special characteristics that help them excel. It may be an aggressive nature that makes them feisty feeders and more catchable. It may be certain genes that produce exceptional size.
The F-1 bass is a great example of achievements in genetic management. Two innovative Alabama biologists received calls from lake owners with Northern bass. Northern owners related good catch rates, but frustration from not seeing Northerns reach 10+-pounds. At the same time, the biologists were hearing from owners who stocked pure Florida bass because of their genetic propensity to grow larger than their Northern cousin. Florida’s easily proved trophy size potential, but after achieving the coveted class, they became difficult to catch. What’s a guy to do when he successfully grows a trophy bass–but can’t catch it?
The biologists not only managed bass lakes, they owned a fish hatchery. After careful analysis, they devised a plan to cross a Northern with a pure Florida and create a hybrid bass with best of both genetic traits. Some of you know this trend-setting fish by its trademarked name Tiger Bass. Little could the biologists imagine it would become one of the most popular bass species stocked today. Genetics alone do not make the fish. The primary factor limiting a bass from reaching its potential is the food chain. Without abundant forage, even this famous fish won’t grow. Most successful testimonials resulted from initially stocking a forage base of 30 bluegill per bass, supplemental threadfin shad in future years, and fertilization. Professionally managed lakes following these steps recorded annual growth rates averaging 2-pounds.
Carefully select pedigree of stocker fish and maintain strong food chains. It can mean the difference between your lake record or induction into the Texas Share-A-Lunker program.