Blackwater Fisheries Research and Development Center….

This is taken from the Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission web site:  http://myfwc.com/conservation/freshwater/blackwater/.  For the continuing article, see the link.

Blackwater Fisheries Research and Development Center is located in scenic Blackwater River State Forest near Holt, Florida.  Constructed in 1938 and operated by the Commission since 1940, the Center has stocked millions of bass, bream and catfish into Florida waters.  In recent years, production of fish has emphasized striped bass and striped bass hybrids (sunshine bass) and advanced fingerling largemouth bass.   Also produced are black crappie, white bass, and shoal bass.  From the years 2000 to 2011 this faciity has produced over 6.3 million striped bass and striped bass hybrids and over two million largemouth bass, bream and channel catfish for stocking in public waters.  As a result several notable fisheries have developed.

Hatchery produced largemouth bass were stocked into Lake Talquin near Tallahassee for five years beginning in 1999.  These bass averaged three inches in length when stocked in the spring.  By fall hatchery produced largemouth bass were significantly larger than naturally spawned fish in the lake.  October fish samples showed hatchery fish averaging almost nine inches in length compared to just over five inches for naturally produced fish.  In addition, angler surveys showed that hatchery largemouth bass contributed from 26 to 39 percent of the fish caught in largemouth bass tournaments on the lake from 2004 to 2006.

Hybrid striped bass, something called sunshine bass, produced at this facility have been stocked in many rivers and lakes in Florida to supplement existing fresh water sport fisheries.  As a result of these stockings significant seasonal hybrid fisheries have developed in the Escambia, Choctawhatchee, and Apalachicola rivers and Bear Lake in Santa Rose County.

Reestablishment of a reproducing population of native striped bass in the Blackwater and Yellow rivers is a joint effort by the FWC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Earlier this century striped bass virtually disapppeared from both rivers, probably due to pollution of the Pensacola Bay estuary.   Releases of young striped bass each year in the Blackwater River since 1987 and in the Yellow River since 1990 have this trophy fish on the road to recovery, with catches of stripers in the 30 pound class reported by anglers.  In 1995 the Institute collected the first mature female striped bass weighing 20 pounds from the Blackwater River.  Since then over 200 mature striped bass have been collected from the Blackwater and Yellow rivers.  Some of these brood fish were brought to this facility and spawned.  To date brood fish from these two systems have produced over 7.5 million fry.  These fish have been used to enhance or reestablish striped bass populations not only in these systems but in the Apalachicola, Ochlocknee, and Choctawhachee rivers and Lake Seminole and Lake Talquin in Florida as well as other river systems in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

For more information see above web site.

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