Introducing Florida strain bass into Delta

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Jim Wilson
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Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 10:29 am
Location: Brentwood, CA

Introducing Florida strain bass into Delta

Postby Jim Wilson » Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:48 pm

Interesting article I found while researching differences between Florida strain and Northern strain largemouth.




The story behind the Delta’s rise to prominence
By Peter Ottesen
Posted May 2, 2007 at 12:01 AM

Serious anglers everywhere believe the 1,000 miles of Delta waterways is one of, if not the best, black bass fisheries in the world. That’s why the BASS Elite Series, made up of the 200 top professionals, competed here in March.
Consider these facts:
» Elite pro Mark Tyler caught his record 14-pound, 9-ounce bass in 1999 - the largest caught in BASS competition - from the Delta.
» When the Bassmaster pros fished here in 2003, Robert Lee won the event with a total of 15 fish that weighed more than 86 pounds, nearly a 6-pound average.
How did the Delta rise from obscurity and a fishery with much smaller largemouth to claim such world-wide acclaim? Heck, back in the 1970s, a five-fish limit weighing 12 pounds would have won most fishing tournaments, and an individual fish topping 5 pounds was considered huge.
Just what happened, here?
Three members of the old San Joaquin Bass Rustlers fishing club - Morris Kirst, John Miller and Bill Fry - know the real story. They were part of a group that included Fred Copperdahl, a Department of Fish and Game biologist, who on a grey, rainy February morning back in 1982 carried out a plan to release Florida-strain largemouth in the Delta.
Can you imagine a state agency under today’s environmental laws approving the release of an exotic species into the Delta, even if it would benefit the fishery and turn into an economic gold mine for Stockton and other nearby communities? Not a chance. But, we’re talking 25 years ago, when times were simpler.
“We had all read and heard stories about these fast-growing Florida bass that were so much bigger than the northern largemouth that were found in the Delta,” said Fry, a retired middle school teacher. “Morris got the state to go along with it.”
Kirst admitted making “several” calls to Fish and Game, which had a warm-water fisheries program that had stocked Florida-strain bass in a number of Southern California lakes and into Clear Lake, Hidden Valley Reservoir and Rancho Seco Lake in Northern California.
“We had numerous conversations, and Copperdahl told us Fish and Game had a nearby lake with Florida strain bass in it,” Kirst said. “I told him we pay our license fees like anyone else and would like this strain of bass to be planted in the Delta, much like the state releases trout into Sierra streams.”
Copperdahl, now retired, agreed to supply a tanker truck with about 150 yearling bass from Rancho Seco Lake. He met Kirst, Miller and Fry at B&W Resort on the Mokelumne River. There the 10- to 11-inch Floridas were placed into aerated live wells on bass boats and hauled to various locations and released. The entire operation was pretty hush-hush.
Fry took his consignment to Frank’s Tract, where he released them into one small area, 6 to 10 feet deep, where, he hoped, the bass would spawn that spring. Miller headed for the duck pond off Light 4 and into flooded Mildred Island. Kirst ran to the Mokelumne River south fork, between Tower Park and B&W.
“We wanted to stock bass that were less than the 12-inch minimum size kept by sport fishers,” Fry said. “That coupled with the fact that most bass anglers don’t fish in February gave the Floridas a chance to get acclimated and to spawn a couple months later. The rest is history.”
Another retired Fish and Game biologist, Dennis Lee, said his agency made a second plant of Floridas in 1986.
“We imported fingerlings from the southeastern U.S. and put them into Folsom and New Melones lakes,” Lee said. “We turned up with a surplus, so we put about 20,000 juvenile bass into the Delta in Hog and Beaver sloughs. We knew that in 10 to 12 years these fish would mature and break all the big-fish records.”
Morris said the Floridas crossbred with northern-strain bass and now are spread all over the Delta.
“As we’ve run fishing tournaments over the years you can see the fish getting bigger and bigger,” Miller said. “Personally, I keep very good records. The infusion of these 150 Floridas has helped perpetuate the fishery and created a tremendous place for real big fish. The largest I’ve personally know of was an 18.65-pounder caught by Galen Jensen. There’s great habitat and food for them in the Delta, and the fishery is world-class.”
Miller gives Kirst full credit for the amazing success story.
“Morris kept harping until Fish and Game finally gave in,” Miller said. “We set up the fish planting operation and turned them loose. After 20 years, our plan has worked out wonderfully. The result has been greater than we could have hoped for. We’ve put the Delta at the center of the black bass fishing world.”
Lee said that planting predatory, exotic fish into the state’s rivers couldn’t be done today because of environmental laws. Current Fish and Game policy permits only various strains of black bass and other warm water species to be planted in lakes.
Does Lee believe the Florida strain bass are a threat to endangered species such as winter-run king salmon or Delta smelt?
“Absolutely not,” he said, emphatically. “Will Florida bass eat a smelt or a winter-run king? Yes. Are these fish on the Endangered Species list because of the bass? No.
“In the Delta, it is a habitat issue, not a predatory issue. We’ve altered the system building dams and moving water south in canals. Black bass are capable of adapting and taking advantage of these changes. Other species aren’t.”
Contact outdoors columnist Peter Ottesen at pottesen@recordnet.com.
Jim

BASNFAN
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:54 pm
Location: Davis, Ca

Re: Introducing Florida strain bass into Delta

Postby BASNFAN » Mon Sep 14, 2020 6:26 pm

Very interesting history lesson. I will be trying once again for my first double digit bass on Thursday. If I were to catch one, I would have these gentlemen to thank!
Fish bite twice a day - half hour before I get there and half hour after I leave.

Shooter
Posts: 29
Joined: Sun May 26, 2019 3:59 pm

Re: Introducing Florida strain bass into Delta

Postby Shooter » Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:01 pm

Thanks for sharing this, very interesting information.

monte300
Posts: 516
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:18 pm

Re: Introducing Florida strain bass into Delta

Postby monte300 » Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:22 am

Great read. 35 years ago when I first started fishing the Delta I was catching 13" northerns that weighed around 12 ounces and a weed was hard to find

mark poulson
Posts: 9787
Joined: Sun May 08, 2005 4:16 am
Location: Antioch, CA

Re: Introducing Florida strain bass into Delta

Postby mark poulson » Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:27 am

monte300 wrote:Great read. 35 years ago when I first started fishing the Delta I was catching 13" northerns that weighed around 12 ounces and a weed was hard to find

Wow!
Attitude plus effort equal success
CLEAN AND DRY

monte300
Posts: 516
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:18 pm

Re: Introducing Florida strain bass into Delta

Postby monte300 » Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:08 pm

mark poulson wrote:
monte300 wrote:Great read. 35 years ago when I first started fishing the Delta I was catching 13" northerns that weighed around 12 ounces and a weed was hard to find

Wow!


I could be exaggerating slightly but I'm pretty confident they didn't weigh a pound

sdavis24
Posts: 34
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 7:18 pm

Re: Introducing Florida strain bass into Delta

Postby sdavis24 » Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:20 pm

Great read. Thank you for posting

HappyDogBassFishing
Posts: 37
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2019 5:44 am

Re: Introducing Florida strain bass into Delta

Postby HappyDogBassFishing » Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:08 pm

Thanks for the post! Great read.


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