APRIL 29, 2015

Revitalization of Roosevelt Lake continues with Florida-strain bass stockings

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rosyPHOENIX – Anglers who love to fish Roosevelt Lake, the most popular fishing destination in the state, have something to look forward to – a future full of trophy bass.

Last Thursday, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) continued its effort to provide great fishing to anglers who frequent this 13,000-acre lake by stocking 40,000 fingerling-sized Florida-strain largemouth bass (3-6 inches).

Since April, 2014, about 1 million fry (recently hatched) of the Florida-strain bass, which can grow up to 20 pounds, have been stocked into Roosevelt Lake.

Survival rate of last week’s fingerling bass stocking is expected to be 15-20 percent. It will likely take at least 18 months for the fingerlings to attain catchable size.

“We hope that within the next 5-10 years anglers can enjoy higher numbers of trophy bass and memories that come out of Roosevelt Lake,” said AZGFD Fisheries Branch Chief Chris Cantrell. “This effort should also have a positive economic impact on local communities.”

The Department has not stocked Roosevelt Lake with Florida-strain largemouth bass since the 1980s. Since 2011 surveys, there has been an 80-percent reduction in largemouth bass catch rates.

Still, in 2013, Roosevelt Lake was the most fished water in the state with 453,525 angler-use days – 7.55-percent of the state’s total use. The direct economic impact of fishing at Roosevelt Lake that year was $72,284,250.

For the previous three Florida-strain stockings, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission donated the fry, and AZGFD paid only shipping fees.

Although the fingerlings cost around $70,000, their survival rate is exponentially higher than that of fry, which, along with the addition of artificial fish habitats, should help AZGFD continue its Roosevelt Lake revitalization efforts. The fingerlings were paid for by the AZGFD and angler donations.

Florida-strain largemouth bass is the same species as the northern strain that dominates Arizona’s warmwater fisheries. Unlike the northern strain, adult Florida-strain bass in the 10- to 15-pound range are relatively common. Florida-strain also have the potential to feed on the lake’s nonnative gizzard shad.

See a Department video of last year’s initial stocking.

A United States Forest Service Tonto Pass is required to fish Roosevelt Lake.

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