Freshwater fisheries biologists and managers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) successfully released 7,800 hatchery-raised shoal bass fingerlings (young fish) into the Chipola River on May 12. This is the second consecutive year shoal bass were raised at the Blackwater Fisheries Research and Development Center and then released into the Chipola River to enhance the wild population. In 2018, Hurricane Michael depleted more than 90% of the shoal bass population in the Chipola River. Currently, harvest and possession of shoal bass in the Chipola River and its tributaries remains prohibited.
Shoal bass are one of four of Florida’s native black bass species and this effort marks the second time genetically pure shoal bass have been successfully raised at an FWC fish hatchery. Shoal bass are also a Florida Species of Greatest Conservation Need, which refers to native animals whose populations are of concern and are at risk or declining. The goal of raising and releasing these fish is to enhance the wild population to help maintain genetic purity and aid in the long-term conservation of this unique species of Florida black bass.
The Chipola River originates just north of Marianna, flowing south for 95 miles through Jackson, Calhoun and Gulf counties where it joins the Apalachicola River. Currently, a Catch-and-Release-Only regulation is in effect for shoal bass on the Chipola River and its tributaries. Any shoal bass that are caught must be released alive immediately and possession is prohibited.
To learn more about FWC’s freshwater fisheries conservation work, visit MyFWC/Freshwater.