Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife stocks
more than 15,500 largemouth bass in Delaware waters|
Stocking supplements tidal river and helps restore Records Pond bass populations
DOVER (Oct. 15, 2013) – As part of the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife’s ongoing Largemouth Bass Conservation Program, the Division’s Fisheries Section stocked 15,518 largemouth bass fingerlings in three water bodies this year, DNREC announced today.
Between July 30 and Aug. 31, approximately 8,813 advanced fingerlings measuring 3 to 5 inches long were stocked in the Nanticoke River/Broad Creek near Laurel, and 2,005 were stocked in the Broadkill River near Milton. The fingerlings were the result of local brood stock collected this past spring from the Nanticoke River and taken to Eastern Shore Fisheries, an aquaculture facility in Maryland. After spawning naturally, the adults were returned to the river and the fry were monitored until they reached a length of 3 inches, a size which increases their survival in the wild.
These stockings are part of a long-term effort initiated in 1995 in the Nanticoke River/Broad Creek and in 1996 in the Broadkill River to enhance Delaware’s tidal bass populations and maintain a stable fishery. Since stocking began, nearly 125,000 advanced fingerlings have been stocked in the Nanticoke/Broad Creek system, and nearly 30,000 have been stocked in the Broadkill River, including the 2013 numbers.
“Largemouth bass must cope with challenging environmental conditions in tidal waters, such as high predation, water level extremes and tidal currents, resulting in limited spawning success, and variable survival and growth of young to catchable size,” said Freshwater Fisheries Program Manager Michael Stangl. “Given the popularity of these water bodies with anglers, fishing pressure is also high, which is why catch-and-release fishing practiced by most bass anglers is also important.”
The impact of stocking in the Broadkill River is currently being evaluated through the use of 1/16” coded-wire tags with a unique code inserted into the fingerlings prior to stocking. “Bass captured during our research sampling efforts will be scanned with a specially designed metal detector that identifies the tag and detects stocked fish versus those that do not have a tag and are the result of natural reproduction,” said Fisheries Biologist Edna Stetzar.
Past evaluations of the Broadkill River bass population have shown that the stocked fish contribute 11 to 18 percent overall to the population. A 10-year evaluation of the Nanticoke River/Broad Creek stocking program revealed that stocked fish contributed 20 to 25 percent to the population.
In addition to tidal river stockings, 4,700 fingerlings were stocked in Records Pond near Laurel to restore the pond’s largemouth bass population since many bass were washed downstream when the water level was lowered to protect the pond dam in preparation for Hurricane Sandy last fall. Spring surveys revealed that the number of bass in the pond was low, so the Division of Fish and Wildlife is requesting that anglers practice catch-and-release through 2014 to allow the population time to re-establish. Bluegill and golden shiners were stocked last fall in an effort to boost the pond’s fish community and provide forage for predatory fish such as bass and crappie.
Vol. 43, No. 401