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.
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.
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. Some of the pond’s largemouth bass were washed downstream in 2013 when water was released in preparation for Hurricane Sandy.
source: Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife