South Florida?s Lake Trafford gets boost of bass finglerlings

Lake Trafford, Collier County, Florida--Lake Trafford, the largest lake south of Lake Okeechobee got 50,000 largemouth bass fingerlings from the state hatchery in Richloam this week. The 1,500 acre Lake Trafford is northeast of Naples, Florida and has been undergoing a drawdown and muck cleaning project as part of a multi-agency restoration project. Now that the bottom has been cleaned, the lake is being restocked with Florida strain largemouth bass.The fingerlings are from the Florida Bass Conservation Center in Richloam, where New and enhanced technology in nutrition and disease control have resulted in these fish being approximately 4 inches long, as opposed to the previous standard of 1-1½ inches long.By stocking larger fish, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) hopes more will survive to harvestable size. Already, water clarity, native vegetation and the number of small fish have improved. Largemouth bass fingerlings stocked last year are growing well. Anglers seeking crappie are catching and releasing the bass."We are working to re-establish a self-sustaining, healthy fish population in the lake," said FWC freshwater fisheries administrator Barron Moody. "We anticipate that our past and present stocking efforts will bring about the return of largemouth bass fishing to the lake."To protect the fish from premature harvest, a special regulation on Lake Trafford prohibits the harvest of any largemouth bass shorter than 18 inches. Complete Florida freshwater fishing regulations can be found online at MyFWC.com/Fishing.The FWC has always considered largemouth bass a premier draw for local anglers and tourists and worked to ensure safe and sustainable quality bass fishing opportunities. This past year, the FWC enhanced its efforts to reach out to the public, to work with stakeholders involved in the fishing industry, and to review all aspects of its bass fishery management efforts. The result is an evolving, long-term Florida Black Bass Management Plan to make Florida the undisputed bass fishing capital of the world.  Recreational freshwater fishing is a significant economic engine in Florida bringing more than $2.5 billion annually to the state's economy.

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