Nearly a quarter-million largemouth bass now swim in Lake Allatoona as part of a newly begun three-year study by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. This study, which will help assess the effectiveness of stocking largemouth on this lake, involves stocking bass fingerlings (1-2 inches) each year through 2015.
Largemouth bass are a common native bass species found throughout Georgia’s lakes, ponds and rivers and anglers in the state spend more days fishing for bass than any other freshwater species. Largemouth bass are found in Lake Allatoona, but are far less common than their cousin, the spotted bass. Both species are native to the water body, but the population balance has shifted towards spotted bass.
“Largemouth bass currently make up only 10-20 percent of the black bass population on Lake Allatoona,” said Jim Hakala, fisheries biologist. “They were much more abundant decades ago than they are today.”
Over the last decade there has been a growing call from bass anglers on this lake to enhance fishing quality by improving largemouth abundance.
Largemouth bass typically attain larger adult size than spotted bass, a trait favored by many bass anglers. If this multi-year stocking experiment works, then largemouth bass may eventually comprise a larger proportion of the black bass population in the lake.
In addition to the fingerling bass stockings, several thousand larger bass (5-8 inches) will be stocked each fall. This will allow biologists to evaluate the stocking success between two different size classes of largemouth as they grow into adults.
Research indicates that fingerling largemouth do not travel far from their stocking location. Therefore, most fingerlings will be stocked from boats in shallow backwater habitats throughout the lake to give a better chance at survival.
In recent years, largemouth fingerlings were stocked into Lake Nottely in north Georgia to reverse declining largemouth bass abundance. The early results of that study have shown promise for increasing largemouth numbers in a spotted bass-dominated lake.
“These findings suggest there may be a chance to improve largemouth abundance in Allatoona through stocking,” said Hakala.
While the stocking phase of the Allatoona study is set to last through 2015, fisheries staff will monitor largemouth bass abundance through 2018, as they grow to adult size. This will help biologists assess the contribution of stocked fish to the Allatoona largemouth bass population through time, and guide future management decisions.
For further information or questions about this study, contact fisheries biologist Jim Hakala at the fisheries management office in Calhoun, GA at (706) 624-1161.