John's Journal... Entry 166, Day 1
THE TIGER BASS AND THE GORILLA BASS
The Birth of the Super Bass
EDITOR'S NOTE: Barry Smith of Montgomery, Alabama, a longtime fisheries biologist, co-owns American Sport Fish in Pike Road, Alabama, one of the largest private hatcheries in the Southeast, with his partner Don Keller. Smith and Keller have developed several breeds of fish that landowners enjoy stocking in their ponds that may find their way to public waters one day. To keep avid fishermen updated on the newest information and the future of bass fishing, we talked with Smith about the two new strains of super bass that have been developed and now are being stocked into farm ponds, the Tiger Bass and the Gorilla Bass.
QUESTION: Tell me about these super strains of bass that
you and your partner, Don Keller, at American Sport Fish have developed.
How did they evolve? Why are they super bass? Why are they called the
Gorilla and the Tiger?
We started out stocking the Florida strain of black bass when we got in the stocking business because we knew the Florida bass had good growth rates, especially after year three, and they lived a long time. However, we also knew from the beginning that Florida bass were hard to catch. But we tried to push that thought back in our minds because we really wanted to grow big fish. Seven or 8 years after we stocked the bass, lake owners said they wanted to drain their lakes because they hadn't caught a bass for 2 or 3 years. They thought all of the bass were gone. When we took our electrofishing boat with the monitor out onto the lake, we saw huge quantities of 6- to 10-pound bass. The pond owners were amazed, but they just couldn't catch those bass.
Once Florida bass get bigger and older, they don't want to bite a lure. We knew this was a little bit of a problem, but we didn't realize the scale of the problem. If you want to catch Florida bass, your best bait is live bait and even then catching the older, bigger bass is difficult. When they get older, they're reluctant to bite artificial baits. One thing we tried to determine was how we could grow large bass quickly that would be easier to catch.
To solve this problem, we've been breeding two strains of largemouth bass for 12 years. We call the super-aggressive northern strain the Tiger Bass, and the hybrid, which is a cross between the Tiger Bass and the Florida strain of black bass, the Gorilla Bass. These bass both are subspecies, meaning they are genetically different from the northern strain. The Tiger Bass are much more aggressive feeders and are easier to catch than the Florida bass. You actually can selectively breed these fish to be more aggressive over a period of time.
How did you discover that?
QUESTION: How long have y'all been doing this selective
QUESTION: So exactly what is the difference between a
Tiger Bass and a Gorilla Bass?
QUESTION: How long does an F1 (the Gorilla Bass) take
to reach 8 pounds?
For more information about American Sport Fish, write P.O. Box 20050, Montgomery, AL 36120, or call (334) 281-7703.
TOMORROW: THE TEXAS STUDY