In my blog last week I highlighted a study conducted by the Illinois Natural History Survey that found some bass are genetically predisposed to biting while others are impossible to catch. In the study, which lasted nearly two decades, biologists found after three generations of selective breeding they could create two types of bass: high-vulnerability fish and low-vulnerability fish, with vulnerability defined by a bass’ propensity to take a lure.
The fact that catchability is a heritable trait, at least in largemouth bass, is astounding. And what’s even more astounding is that at least one hatchery company, American Sport Fish (www.americansportfish.com) is offering bass that were bred not only for improve catchability, but also for their potential to grow to large sizes.
Of the two main subspecies of largemouth bass, the northern strain is known to be easier to catch than the Florida strain. However, as most anglers now know, the Florida strain can grow to much larger sizes.
The two subspecies have been known to interbreed. In fact, the current, 22-pound, 4 ounce co--world record caught by George Perry in southern Georgia more than 75 years ago was thought to be a northern/Florida hybrid.
For years American Sport Fish, who supply fish for private pond owners throughout the South, bred Florida-strain bass for their clients, and even though they grew to large sizes, pond owners weren’t always thrilled because the fish were so tough (at times, seemingly impossible) to catch. So owners Barry Smith and Don Keller began a selective breeding program designed to improve catchability of fish. For 12 years they selectively bred two strains of bass, one a super-aggressive strain of northern bass that they now call the Gorilla bass. The other was a cross between the Gorilla bass and pure Florida Strain bass from females that grew to 13 pounds or more. They call this F! hybrid a Tiger bass.
Per the company, the Tiger bass has incredible growth potential (15 as young as 8 years old have reached 15 pounds), and tend to be highly catchable.
-- Steve Pennaz, NAFC Executive Director