F1 bass, private donations, federal matching funds
The NCWRC is stocking F1 bass in three North Carolina lakes, and for the first time ever, the agency is accepting private funds to help. And those private funds are being multiplied by the federal government.
North Carolina native Marty Stone, who spent years fishing on the Bassmaster Elite Series and Major League Fishing circuits, called this the perfect storm for anglers looking to help improve the state’s largemouth bass fishery.
An F1 bass is a first-generation cross between a Florida-strain largemouth and a northern-strain largemouth. The result is a fast-growing fish that is aggressive and has a tolerance for extreme weather. The largemouth bass currently distributed throughout the state are northern-strain largemouth, and in certain lakes, they have taken a beating from spotted bass, which are non-native, nuisance species.
The spotted bass, sometimes called Alabama bass, Alabama spots or Alabama spotted bass, are aggressive fish that are notorious for multiplying quickly, not growing very big, and spreading their seed among the beds of spawning largemouth bass, further diluting the gene pool.
The stocking program, which is set to take place in lakes Jordan, Gaston and Norman, could have a huge impact on the quality of fish produced at those lakes in the not-too-distant future, said Stone. The NCWRC agrees.
“These three lakes were selected to help monitor the program by nutrient fertility levels. Jordan is enormously fertile, Gaston is so-so and Norman has a low fertility value. Knowing these factors will show fisheries biologists just how effective these F1 stockings are in those lakes, and can provide a roadmap for stocking other lakes in the future,” said Stone.
The results are proven
Similar stockings have taken place in Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, with great results.
“What really makes this a perfect storm is that for the first time, the NCWRC is accepting funds from the private sector, plus the federal government is going to match those funds at a 3-to-1 ratio. That’s huge. So for every dollar a private citizen donates, the federal government will donate three dollars,” said Stone.
Currently, F1 fingerlings cost 50 cents each. So while a dollar would equal two F1 bass, thanks to the matching funds, every dollar donated will equal eight F1 bass.
“That’s huge. For every dollar a private citizen gives, that’s eight bass instead of two. This is an opportunity for us as anglers to make a huge impact on our fishery. It’s truly the chance of a lifetime for us to play a part in something we care about, something we love, and something that we – as well as future generations of anglers – will directly benefit from,” said Stone. “Everything is in place.
“Depending on how involved in this program we get, we’ll look back in 10 years and either be proud of what we’ve accomplished, or we’ll look back and kick ourselves for not taking advantage of a situation that has all the ingredients needed to turn our lakes into world class fisheries.”
It’s not a quick fix, but NCWRC Assistant Chief of Inland Fisheries and Stone agree that it’s something, if done properly, will show results in 5 to 7 years, and even bigger results if stockings continue for a decade or more.
Let’s do our part
Stone, along with Chuck Murray, president of the NC B.A.S.S. Nation and Keith Joyce, an avid angler who regularly competes in tournaments, started NCF1Bass.org, to help educate the public on the program, and to funnel private sector funds to the NCWRC. The three will not make a dime from the program.
“One hundred percent of the money raised will go to the NCWRC for this purpose. And those funds will be matched 3-to-1 by the federal government,” said Stone.
Stone encourages anglers to give what they can afford, and said this isn’t about a few anglers putting up a lot of money, but a lot of anglers donating a little bit of money.
“If you can give $5, that’s great. If you can give $10, even better. We’d love to see 3000 anglers donate at least $100 annually. That equals $300,000 in a year, which becomes more than $1.2 million with matching funding,” he said. “Doing that over several years will make our lakes into something that will be a model for other states.”