From the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Freshwater Fisheries is stocking 1 million Florida largemouth bass into Lake Apopka that were spawned at the Richloam Fish Hatchery. This major stocking effort applies a new technique of spawning largemouth bass in September for a late fall stocking, which hopes to increase the survival rate.
The process is scheduled to begin tomorrow morning at 10AM with the release of thousands of largemouth bass into Lake Apopka at the Pump House off Lust Road.
The FWC’s Richloam Fish Hatchery staff spawned the genetically pure Florida largemouth bass at two separate times a year, instead of just once, specifically for Lake Apopka. Pure Florida largemouth bass tend to grow bigger than other species found in other parts of the country. Stocking the lake earlier than usual ensures that larger bass are going into the lake, which allows them a better chance of survival, as there is a more abundant food source available.
Lake Apopka is a 31,000-acre water body in central Florida that was historically known as one of the best bass fisheries in the United States. The lake has been significantly degraded by 40 years of municipal and agricultural effluent that was compounded by water stabilization. The lake presently has a large organic sediment layer and dense algae concentrations, which limit aquatic plant growth that is needed for quality fish and wildlife habitat.
Significant strides have been made to return the lake to a healthy water body. Municipal effluent has been eliminated, former muck farms built on original lake marshes have been purchased and restoration projects begun, a marsh flow-way system has been constructed to improve water quality, and a commercial gizzard shad harvest program has been implemented to limit re-suspension of phosphorus from bottom sediments.
These projects will be the initial steps to restoring the fishery and providing Floridians and visitors another high-quality fishing resource for their enjoyment. In the interim, the FWC continues to stock the lake with non-reproducing sunshine bass to provide an exciting fishery to utilize some of the abundant forage fish the lake produces.
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