Commission to stock lake with 40,000 Tiger Bass Decision on drawdown on hold until LDWF vegetation report in May

By Luke Britt
The Lake D’Arbonne Watershed Commission intends to stock the lake with 40,000 Tiger Bass later this year, an investment that commissioners said should result in a steady increase over the years in the average size of largemouth bass pulled from the lake.
Tiger bass are a hybrid cross between a strain of aggressive Northern largemouth and a “pure strain” of Florida Bass, according to American Sport Fish, the company that developed the Tiger Bass subspecies. The result, the company says, is a fish with a high survivability, a growth rate well above average and one that is easier to catch.
The average weight gain of largemouth bass is about two pounds during a fish’s first year of life and about a half-pound per year after that. According to American Sport Fish breeders, Tiger Bass will continue that first-year growth rate, or something close to it, for several years.
More importantly, crossbreeding among largemouth bass subspecies is common, so the presence of the aggressive, fast-growing Tiger Bass should, over time, cause an increase in the average size of all bass in Lake D’Arbonne.
The stocking effort will cost about $20,000, commission member Richard Royal said, the funds for which were generated by boat launch fees collected by the commission and donations from the fishing community.
Each year the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries stocks the lake with 250,000 fry fish, but the survival rate of the small fish is extremely low, prompting the commission to undertake its own stocking program.
“We appreciate what (LDWF) does, but when you put 250,000 fry into Lake D’Arbonne you just made a lot of adult white perch very happy,” Commissioner Steve Cagle said when the topic of stocking the lake came up last year.
Already nationally known as a top-tier crappie lake, the LDWF stocking program and the introduction of Tiger Bass together could boost Lake D’Arbonne’s reputation among bass anglers.
Drawdown Discussion
Some in attendance at Tuesday’s commission meeting expected to hear discussion about the drawdown scheduled to take place this fall, but that discussion could not occur because the LDWF in the midst of a vegetation survey that could determine if the drawdown occurs on schedule or is put off for another year. LDWF biologist Ryan Daniels is expected to present the survey results to the commission at its May meeting.
Depending on that report, Royal said, the drawdown may or may not occur.
The level of Lake D’Arbonne is scheduled to be drawn down every four years to allow the LDWF to remove invasive vegetation that negatively impacts the diets and spawning habits of fish. If the vegetation in the lake is not harming the fish habitat, a drawdown may not be necessary.
Following last year’s vegetation survey, Daniel told the commission that the lake is in such “great condition” that the drawdown scheduled for this fall may not be necessary. One indicator, he said, is that the largemouth bass coming out of the lake are the largest ever recorded in Lake D’Arbonne since his department began surveying the lake.
Daniel told the commission last year, “We’re seeing the right vegetation in all the right places and depths, and we’re not seeing a problem with the giant salvinia. If next year’s survey looks this good, we might consider postponing the drawdown.”
July 4 celebrations
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the commission approved the use of Ramp Road for the annual Independence Day fireworks show. The show will take place Saturday, July 6.

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