PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona wildlife officials are stocking Roosevelt Lake with some help from their Florida counterparts.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department announced Wednesday that the agency will receive up to 500,000 fry of largemouth bass through a partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The agency says it will receive the fry through April for the 13,000-acre lake, located in the Tonto National Forest.
Officials say the Florida-strain bass can grow to up to 20 pounds.
The Florida commission is delivering the donated fry via FedEx.
Game and Fish biologists so far have dumped a first shipment of 275,000 fry.
"We hope that within the next 5-10 years anglers can enjoy higher numbers of trophy bass and memories that come out of Roosevelt Lake," said AZGFD Fisheries Branch Chief Chris Cantrell. "This effort also should have a positive economic impact on local communities. The state of Texas has had huge success with stocking Florida-strain largemouth bass, and we expect the same."
They anticipate one to two more weekly stockings.
The department has not stocked Roosevelt Lake with Florida-strain largemouth bass since the 1980s. Since 2011 surveys, there has been an 80-percent reduction in largemouth bass catch rates. Still, in 2013, Roosevelt Lake was the most fished water in the state.
Florida-strain largemouth bass is the same species as the northern strain that dominates Arizona's warm-water fisheries. But unlike northern strain, adult Florida strain in the 10- to 15-pound range is relatively common. An additional benefit of the Florida strain is its potential to feed on Roosevelt Lake's nonnative gizzard shad.
The department expects at least a few thousand Florida strain to survive to adulthood. It will likely take at least two years before the bass grow to a catchable size of 10-12 inches.
A United States Forest Service Tonto Pass is required to fish Roosevelt Lake.
This is a one-time stocking effort. Future stockings of Florida-strain largemouth bass efforts are possible, but would rely on public donations. To contribute to a thriving Roosevelt Lake fishery, visit http://www.azgfd.gov/bassDonations.
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