"What good does it do to grow big fish if you can't catch them?" asks a Texas AgriLife Extension Service fisheries expert.
The answer is "no good at all" if you're a landowner managing a pond or lake for bigmouth bass, said Dr. Billy Higginbotham, AgriLife Extension wildlife and fisheries expert.
Higginbotham is one of the organizers of the upcoming two-day event, "The Largemouth Bass: Better Fishing Through Private Water Management," set March 28-29.
The event will feature some of the best known bass experts from the South.
"To my knowledge, there is no other event on managing for the largemouth bass that is as comprehensive as this one in any of the Southern states," Higginbotham said.
The event will be held at the Edwin L. Cox, Jr., Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Situated on 107 acres, the center has more than 300,000 gallons of indoor and outdoor aquariums, educational facilities and a visitor center.
The program has been designed primarily for landowners who manage their own water impoundments for bass fishing, Higginbotham said. Program topics will include basic bass pond management info - water quality, controlling aquatic weeds, bass diseases and parasites, fertilization and feeding, and fish-stocking strategies.
But there will also sessions on cutting edge bass management, such as current efforts by Barry Smith to breed the largest "catch-able" bass possible, Higginbotham said.
Smith, who is one of the founders of the American Sport Fish Hatchery in Alabama, has been crossing northern and Florida strains of bass, then selecting for size and catch-ability. It is generally accepted, Higginbotham said, that though Florida bass can grow larger than northern bass strains, the Florida lines are much harder to catch.
For example, the Texas record largemouth bass weighed 13 pounds in 1980, when northern bass genetics were dominant. The current world record bass weighed more than 22 pounds, and the current state record, now that Texas bass are heavily influenced by Florida genetics, is more than 18 pounds, Higginbotham said.
"This should be a must-see for anyone wanting to raise really big bass in their ponds that they can actually catch," he said.
Other parts of the program, will be about the science behind modern bass research, he said.
Participants will be treated to a presentation on how to determine the age of a bass by examining its ear bones. Another tour will give a behind-the-scenes view of the center's bass spawning facility.
Registration for the event is $60 per person before March 15 and $90 per person from March 15 - 28.
For more information and register online at http://agrilifevents.tamu.edu or call 979-845-2604.
Alternately, participants may mail a check to Texas AgriLife Extension Conference Services, 2139 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-2139. Make the check payable to "Account 07-254100-60001."
Additional info can be obtained by contacting Higginbotham at 903-834-6191, [email protected] or Michael Masser, 979-845-7370, [email protected].
The event is sponsored by AgriLife Extension, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Henderson County Wildlife Committee.