FWC Unveils New Tool for Hauling, Stocking Largemouth
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recently unveiled a new state-of-the-art aluminum haul box that will deliver largemouth bass and other freshwater fishes from the Florida Bass Conservation Center to public waters around the state. BASS/ESPN Outdoors funded the new tank and its beautiful Glen Lau-inspired wrap.
The Florida Bass Conservation Center, which reopened its doors in Sumter County in 2007, has the capacity to produce up to a million advanced fingerling bass. Advanced fingerlings, also known as Phase II bass, are reared to a larger size (3 to 4 inches) with innovative technology developed by FWC biologists. Part of the new science applied at the center incorporates a special bass diet developed in conjunction with the University of Florida. The bass center’s innovations led to its receiving the 2009 Wallop-Breaux Outstanding Project of the Year award from the American Fisheries Society in the Sport Fishery Development and Management Facilities category.
The new haul box has two 400-gallon compartments and is set up to use both an oxygen-injection system and aerators to help keep the fish healthy. Hatchery manager Rick Stout said they can now safely transport up to 20,000 advanced fingerlings at a time, or more than 200,000 traditional fingerling bass (1 to 1.5 inches).
“The key, however, is that we should be able to stock advanced fingerlings into healthy habitats when they are big enough to grow and survive much better than smaller fingerlings would – not to mention avoiding getting eaten by some of the predators that enjoy the smaller, 1-inch bass,” Stout said.
Ann Marie Tavares, a graphic artist with the FWC, designed the wrapping on the haul boxes, using award-winning images by master cinematographer and bass expert Glen Lau. Lau has also allowed his images to adorn the Florida Bass Conservation Center facility and the interpretive area that is open to the public during normal work hours. In fact, Lau allows art-quality prints of his photographs and DVDs of his world-renowned videos, including “Bigmouth” and “Bigmouth Forever,” to be sold at shop.wildlifeflorida.org, with the profits going to support the Florida Bass Conservation Center.
“We can all be proud of the state-of-the-art research and tremendous cooperation between all the partners that made this happen,” said Tom Champeau, director of the FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management.
As the FWC’s new haul box travels the roads of Florida, bringing fingerling bass and other sport fishes to state waters, it will help confirm Florida’s role as the Fishing Capital of the World.
For more information about the Florida Bass Conservation Center and the long-term Black Bass Management Plan, go toMyFWC.com/Fishing.
Bob Wattendorf, 850-488-0331