The AGFC recently stocked nearly 48,000 smallmouth bass fingerlings in Lake Catherine near Hot Springs. It marked the third consecutive year that the Fisheries Division and the Andrew Hulsey Fish Hatchery at Hot Springs produced fingerlings for stocking in Lake Catherine as part of the AGFC’s introductory effort of smallmouth bass in the lake. Most fingerlings were distributed in areas of good nursery cover (re: aquatic vegetation). The fingerlings were stocked between the Twin Creeks area (north side of the channel across from Diamondhead) downstream to the east end of the Lake Catherine State Park. Most of the fingerlings were about 1¾ inches, while about 10 percent of the stockers were from earlier spawn and were nearly 3 inches in length. This effort was assisted by Chuck Emrick, a Lake Catherine shoreline resident and avid angler.
The adult broodstock smallmouth bass were originally collected via electrofishing from the upper Ouachita River in February and March. Following the harvest of fingerlings from ponds at the hatchery, the broodstock smallmouth were returned to the upper Ouachita River to locations near where they were collected; in addition to the fingerlings stocked into the lake, the hatchery also stocked just over 8,000 fingerling smallmouth bass from hatchery ponds back into the upper Ouachita River.
Fisheries Division biologists will continue to evaluate the success of the effort with biennial electrofishing surveys. The next planned Lake Catherine electrofishing will take place in the fall of 2022 to evaluate the black bass population size structure and density. Staff plan to collect adult smallmouth bass for spawning to produce fingerlings for Lake Catherine again in 2022.