PHOENIX — For the first time since the 1980s, Florida-strain largemouth bass have been stocked in Arizona’s Roosevelt Lake.
“We hope that within the next five to 10 years, anglers can enjoy higher numbers of trophy bass and memories that come out of Roosevelt Lake,” said Chris Cantrell, fisheries chief for the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD).
“This effort also should have a positive economic impact on local economies,” added Cantrell. “The state of Texas has had huge success with stocking Florida-strain largemouth bass, and we expect the same.”
Volunteers from the Arizona B.A.S.S. Nation helped AZGFD stock 275,000 fry on April 8, according to Don McDowell, conservation director for the Arizona B.A.S.S. Nation. Another 225,000 were added later in the week to the 13,000-acre impoundment on the Salt River.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission donated fry for the stocking, sending them via FedEx in coolers.
“My task now is to contact the organized tournament groups and initiate ‘conservation options’ to provide dollars to purchase more Florida-strain bass to stock,” said McDowell, who praised Cantrell for his support in rebuilding the Roosevelt bass fishery.
“None of this would have been possible without the consent and support of our commission and the persistence of fisheries branch chief Cantrell.”
AZGFD decided to act after electrofishing surveys revealed that gizzard shad make up about 30 percent of the fish in the lake, while largemouth bass catch rates have declined 80 percent. Additionally, meetings are ongoing with the Arizona B.A.S.S. Nation and other angling groups to develop strategies for adding habitat.
“We have $80,000 worth of grant requests in for lake-bottom mapping for habitat placement and building concrete reef ball structures, and additional dollars for more Florida-strain bass,” McDowell said.