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Florida’s Shoal Bass & Suwannee Bass – Just Where Did These “Smallmouth” Come From?

Florida’s Shoal Bass & Suwannee Bass – Just Where Did These “Smallmouth” Come From?

Author: “Ocklawahaman” Paul Nosca with the assistance of Captain Erika Ritter….

A LONG FORGOTTEN FACT! In 1930 the Chipola and Suwannee rivers of Florida were stocked with “government bass” by our ancient “Department of Game and Fresh Water Fish”. These “government bass” were obtained from a Federal hatchery. In 1992 “Ocklawahaman” found an account of this long-ago fish stocking while examining the State of Florida library archives in Tallahassee for interesting outdoors stuff–and photocopied it. More about these “government bass” later on and you will be able to read the report published in 1931 by the then named “Florida Department of Game and Fresh Water Fish”.

I will present FACTS in this article ONLY–without any of my own opinions about the possible origins of Florida’s SHOAL BASS and SUWANNEE BASS. You are free to reach your own conclusions or maybe pursue this subject further, if it interests you, with fisheries biologists in your home state.

BLACK BASS SPECIES DATA AND STREAMS WHERE I HAVE CAUGHT THEM:

LARGEMOUTH BASS (Micropterus salmoides) was first described as a species in 1802. “Northern largemouth” and “Florida largemouth” are the two recognized subspecies along with a HYBRID intergrade of the two. I have caught largemouth bass from these Florida river basins: St. Marys, St. Johns, Ocklawaha, Wekiva, Econlockhatchee, Suwannee, Santa Fe, Wacissa, Aucilla, St. Marks, Wakulla, Ochlockonee, Apalachicola, and Chipola. I have also caught largemouth bass from the Chestatee River of Georgia plus these 3 Oklahoma streams: Blue River, Medicine Creek and West Cache Creek.

SMALLMOUTH BASS (Micropterus dolomieu) was first described as a species in 1802. “Northern smallmouth” and “Neosho smallmouth” are the two recognized subspecies. I have caught smallmouth bass from the Blue River of Oklahoma.

SPOTTED BASS (Micropterus punctulatus) was first described as a species in 1819. “Northern spotted”, “Alabama spotted” and “Wichita spotted” (which may be extinct) are the three recognized subspecies. I have caught spotted bass from the Apalachicola River of Florida, the Chestatee River of Georgia, plus the Blue River and Medicine Creek of Oklahoma.

GUADALUPE BASS (Micropterus treculii) was first described as a species in 1883. I have never caught a Guadalupe bass which are only found in Texas.

REDEYE BASS (Micropterus coosae) was first described as a species in 1940. I have caught redeye bass from the Conasauga River in the Cohutta Wilderness of Georgia. I don’t remember taking any pictures of these redeye bass.

SUWANNEE BASS (Micropterus notius) was first described as a species in 1949. I have caught Suwannee bass from the Ochlockonee and Suwannee rivers of Florida.

SHOAL BASS (Micropterus cataractae) was first described as a species in 1999. I have caught shoal bass from the Chipola River of Florida and the Chestatee River of Georgia.

BLACK BASS CAN INTERBREED TO PRODUCE HYBRID INTERGRADES–SOME EXCERPTS FROM ONLINE REPORTS:

http://fishing.about.com/od/bassfishing/a/bass_species.htm
“..All are of the genus ‘Micropterus’ and can interbreed, producing hybrids of the two species…”

http://www.fishin.com/articles/meanmouth.htm
“…A hybrid occurs when one fish species spawns with a different, but closely related species. Hybrids can occur naturally or can also be intentionally produced in a hatchery… Hybrids of black bass species have been documented in the United States for some time. Early research dealt with hatchery production of a largemouth bass / smallmouth bass hybrid. This was the original ‘mean-mouth’ bass. The largemouth / smallmouth bass hybrid is not common in nature due to differences in both habitat preferences and spawning times. However, smallmouth bass and spotted bass can overlap in habitat use and spawning times. Generally, there are subtle behavioral differences associated with spawning that prevent or minimize hybridization. Although the smallmouth bass / spotted bass hybrid is not the original ‘mean-mouth’ bass, it has acquired this name over time…”

http://www.riverbassin.com/site/spotted-bass/
“…The most notably detrimental stockings are that of the Apalachicola basin where they compete and interbreed with the native shoal bass (creating ‘spoal bass’ hybrids), and in the reservoirs of the upper Tennessee River, where they compete and interbreed with the native smallmouth population (creating ‘meanmouth bass’ hybrids)…”

http://myfwc.com/BassPlan_survey/BBMP-WorkingDraft-30August.pdf
“…Further hybridization with spotted bass, which was documented in 2009 by FWC biologists (Porak et al. 2009), could lead to extirpation of “pure” shoal bass.

“…It is well documented that centrarchid species will often hybridize. Of all the black bass species, spotted bass appear to be the most opportunistic and hybridization has occurred between redeye X spotted bass (Barwick et al. 2006), largemouth X spotted bass (Godbout et al. 2009) and smallmouth X spotted bass (Pierce and Van Den Avyle 1997; Koppelman 1994). Recently in Florida, shoal bass X spotted bass hybrids were discovered in the Chipola River (Porak and Tringali 2009)…”

http://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/2010/hetke_dust/classification.htm
“…Genetically, the spotted bass is more closely related to the smallmouth than any other black bass; oddly, its green coloration makes it look more like a largemouth. Coexisting populations of smallmouth and spotted bass have been known to interbreed to give hybrid offspring, bringing the biological definition of these black bass species into question…”

1973 REPORT ENTITLED “REDEYE BASS”:

The following excerpts are from the article entitled “Redeye Bass” by Gene Smith in the June 1973 edition of “FLORIDA WILDLIFE” magazine published by the then “Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission”.

“Of the many fresh water game fishes of Florida, the most unique has to be the redeye bass, Micropterus coosae, a variety of black bass that, in our state, has been found just in the Chipola River, in Jackson County.

“The redeye was somewhat of a mystery fish for many years. Sport fishermen had been battling them for generations, along with plenty of largemouths, before fishery scientists became genuinely interested and collected a sufficient number of specimens to confirm the species identification, in 1956-57. Locals knew these scrappers as ‘shoal bass’ and ‘Chipola bass,’ and still call them that most of the time…”
1931 REPORT ENTITLED “SMALL-MOUTH BLACK BASS IN FLORIDA”:

The following are excerpted selections from “Small-Mouth Black Bass in Florida” an article in the Spring 1931 issue of “FLORIDA WOODS AND WATERS” which was the official magazine of the then “Florida Department of Game and Fresh Water Fish”.

“SMALL-MOUTH black bass in Florida waters? ‘As you probably know, ninety-nine people out of one hundred would be willing to bet that there are none of those fish in your State, but only the large-mouth species.’ It was Seth Briggs, Fishing Editor of Field and Stream, who wrote the foregoing to I. N. Kennedy, District Game Commissioner, who twenty-three years ago (“Ocklawahaman” calculation is 1908?) help plant this species of fish…By many the announcement of the taking of a small-mouth bass from Florida waters of greater size than ‘the biggest on record’ was greeted by the classic remark of the farmer, who looking on a giraffe in a circus menagerie said ‘thar ain’t no sech animal…”

“…In the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers they are frequently captured…Back of these findings lies some story–almost forgotten–of the planting of ‘government bass’ as they are often called.

“That it is possible to have them in other waters of the state seems an assured fact. During the summer of 1930 the Department of Game and Fresh Water Fish planted in the Chipola river, the Wakulla, the Wacissa and the Suwannee, fingerlings of small-mouth and rock bass, obtained from a Federal hatchery…”

To view the entire “FLORIDA WOODS AND WATERS” Spring 1931 “Small-Mouth Black Bass in Florida” 2-page article, click-on the two scanned photos which should make them large enough to read.

FLORIDA’S SHOAL BASS AND SUWANNEE BASS–JUST WHERE DID THESE “SMALLMOUTH” COME FROM? Simple question but the answer may be “as clear as mud”!

END.

9 Responses to “Florida’s Shoal Bass & Suwannee Bass – Just Where Did These “Smallmouth” Come From?”

  1. ocklawahaman says:

    JUST THE FACTS!

    It is a FACT that some of Florida’s Panhandle streams were stocked in the early 1900’s with “government bass” by our then named “Florida Department of Game and Fresh Water Fish”. These “government bass”, obtained from Federal fish hatcheries, consisted of some variety of smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui) plus rock bass (Ambloplites rupestris aka Ambloplites constellatus).

    It is a FACT that these Florida Panhandle rivers, from the Suwannee north and west (which receive much of their source water from Alabama and Georgia), would have been already populated prior to the 1930’s by these native fish species: intergrade largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides salmoides x Micropterus salmoides floridanus) and warmouth (Lepomis gulosus aka Chaenobryttus gulosus)–along with possibly shadow bass (Ambloplites ariommus) plus some form of northern spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus punctulatus) or Alabama spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus henshalli).

    It is a FACT that some of these same streams contain shoal bass (Micropterus cataractae–first identified as a separate species in 1999) or Suwannee bass (Micropterus notius–first recognized as a separate species in 1949). In the case of the shoal bass, at least as far back as the 1950’s, it was thought to be a form of the redeye bass (Micropterus coosae–first named in 1940 as a separate species).

    It is a FACT that the Suwannee/Santa Fe River Basin has escaped all “fish-migration-stopping” dam building lest the 1960 “Suwannee Sill” across its Okefenokee Swamp extreme Georgia headwater.

    It is a FACT that the Apalachicola/Chipola River Basin, which connects to the Chattahoochee/Flint River Basin of Alabama and Georgia, had no “fish-migration-stopping” dam building in Florida until 1957.

    It is a FACT that various black bass Micropterus species occasionally hybridize with other black bass Micropterus species or even other sunfish Centrarchidae family species. Searching online will reveal MANY reports about this “fishy” interbreeding.

    Here are several more excerpts from sites reporting about hybridization involving various black bass species:

    http://www.cnr.vt.edu/efish/families/smallmouth.html
    “…Naturally hybridizes with spotted bass…Crossed with largemouth bass, forms ‘meanmouth’…Smallmouth and bluegill naturally hybridized in a Hawaiian reservoir…”

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/b3310e/B3310E10.htm
    “…The warmouth, Chaenobryttus gulosus, and the largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, have been successfully hybridized both ways…”

    http://www.jstor.org/pss/1445895
    “Natural Hybridization between Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus)”

    http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactS…?speciesID=396
    A third hybrid resulting from stocking smallmouth bass is the smallmouth/largemouth hybrid. Introduced smallmouth bass hybridize with native largemouth bass in Squaw Reservoir in northcentral Texas (Whitmore and Hellier 1988)…”

    http://www.bio.txstate.edu/~tbonner/…20dolomieu.htm
    “…M. dolomieu X M. treculii (Guadalupe bass) hybrids reported (Edwards 1979; Whitmore and Butler 1982). Littrell et al. (2007) reported collection of M. dolomieu X M. salmoides, M. dolomieu X M. treculii, and M.dolomieu X M. treculii X M. salmoides hybrids from Texas waters; natural hybridization between M. dolomieu and M. salmoides also reported by Whitmore and Hellier (1988). Morizot et al. (1991) reported a three species hybrid which was a combination of M. dolomieu, M. salmoides (largemouth bass), and M. trecilii(Guadalupe bass) parents (most likely M. dolomieu mating with a M. salmoides X M. treculii Fı hybrid).

    http://southeastaquatics.net/uploads…iative.doc.pdf
    “A Business Plan for the Conservation of Native Black Bass Species in the Southeastern US: A Ten Year Plan…February 2010”
    “…Black bass commonly hybridize with each other when one or more of the species is introduced (Whitmore 1983; Koppelman 1994; Pierce and Van Den Avyle 1997; Pipas and Bulow1998; Barwick et al. 2006), and therefore the likelihood of genetic introgression of introduced black bass species and native shoal bass appears to be high…”
    “…Genetic threats to shoal bass are present throughout their native range, as anglers continue to stock non-native species of black bass all over the southeastern U.S. However, specific areas that are of special concern are:
    - Chattahoochee River, Atlanta, Georgia area (smallmouth and Alabama bass)
    - Chattahoochee River from West Point Dam downstream to headwaters of Eufaula
    Reservoir (spotted bass)
    - Major tributaries to the Chattahoochee River from West Point Dam downstream to
    headwaters of Eufaula Reservoir (Alabama bass and spotted bass)
    - Chipola River, Florida (Alabama bass and spotted bass)
    - Flint River, Georgia (spotted bass)…”
    “…Introgressive hybridization with other species is a significant problem for endemic shoal bass populations…”

    http://afsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.15…urnalCode=fitr
    “…Hybridization between Redeye Bass and Smallmouth Bass in Tennessee Streams…These hybridizing populations illustrate the consequences of introducing nonindigenous redeye bass into streams containing indigenous smallmouth bass…”

    http://www.jstor.org/pss/1444331
    “…The introduction of smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui) into the range of the endemic Guadalupe bass (M. treculi) on the Edwards Plateau in south-central Texas has resulted in hybridization between these species…”

    http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/facts…?SpeciesID=397
    “…This species was formerly composed of three subspecies: the northern spotted bass – M. p. punctulatus, the Alabama spotted bass – M. p. henshalli and the Wichita spotted bass – M. p. wichitae. Cofer (1995) determined the Wichita subspecies was actually a hybrid with M. dolomieu and is therefore invalid…”

    http://www.in-fisherman.com/content/spotted-bass
    “…A third putative subspecies, the Wichita spotted bass, is now considered a hybrid between the spotted and the smallmouth bass…”

    ONLINE SEARCHES WILL REVEAL MANY MORE REPORTS!

  2. ocklawahaman says:

    Check-out the FORUM for many interesting comments about this article!
    ENJOY,
    “Ocklawahaman”

    • Paul Nosca says:

      Here is some more historical data related to my article, “Florida’s Shoal Bass & Suwannee Bass – Just Where Did These ‘Smallmouth’ Come From?”

      Any and all “river bassers” that are interested in the substance of any of my articles should have reasonably easy access to any source documents that I quote or report about–so that they can view them also. I strive to provide clickable-links-to or scanned-copies-of source documents that I mention in my articles or forum postings!

      It is a FACT that I am able to examine the following published learned report written long ago by a well-known black bass fishing expert of the time.

      http://books.google.com/books?id=sO8…page&q&f=false

      The following excerpts are from the immortal treatise Book Of The Black Bass by James Alexander Henshall (1904 with the last printing that I can find is 1917):

      “…But in 1874, Professor G. Brown Goode, while collecting in Florida, found this species exceedingly abundant, and the only species of the Black Bass represented in that State; consequently, in 1876, he restored the name bestowed on this species, from the same locality, by Le Sueur, in 1822 (Cichla floridana) , and in accordance with the law of priority, called it Micropterus floridanus (Le Sueur) Goode…” “Ocklawahaman” Note: This excerpt was discussing “large-mouth” bass.

      “…The Black Bass is wholly unknown in the Old World, except where recently introduced, and exists, naturally, only in America. The original habitat of the species is remarkable for its extent, for, with the exception of the New England States and the Atlantic seaboard of the Middle States, it comprises the whole of the United States east of the Eocky Mountains, Ontario (Canada), and East Mexico. So far, but one species, the large-mouthed Bass, is known to inhabit Florida, but it is my opinion that the small-mouthed species will also be found in some of the streams in the western part of that State…”

      “…The character of waters has but little influence upon the distribution of the species, less upon the large-mouth bass than upon his small-mouth congener. If the water is reasonably pure, both species will thrive in it; but, as has just been intimated, the small-mouth bass naturally seeks cooler and clearer waters. Thus, while he is found in the headwaters of certain rivers flowing into the Atlantic (notably those of the Alleghany region of the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama), the large-mouth bass only occurs in the lower portions of the streams. There are several rivers in Hernando County, on the Gulf coast of Florida, that burst out from the base of a sandy ridge running parallel with the coast, and some twelve miles from it, whose sources are large springs, fifty or sixty feet deep, and of half an acre in extent. Their waters are remarkably clear and cool, with a strong current until tide-water is reached; and I have no doubt but the small-mouth bass would thrive wonderfully well in the upper portions of the streams if introduced into them, as the conditions all seem favorable, and the large-mouth bass is abundant in them…”

      I’ll have some more data about Florida’s Shoal Bass and Suwannee Bass in the future!
      ENJOY,
      “Ocklawahaman” Paul Nosca

  3. "Ocklawahaman" Paul Nosca says:

    Here is some of my own “creel survey” data about the SHOAL BASS of the Chipola River, Florida and the SUWANNEE BASS of the Ochlockonee River, Florida from my computerized (since 1991) database…

    From the Chipola River of Florida since 1991:
    I have caught 1 shoal bass for every 2.5 largemouth bass that I’ve caught.
    60% of the largemouth bass were 12 inches or longer in total length.
    50% of the shoal bass were 12 inches or longer in total length.
    37% of the shoal bass were 14 inches or longer in total length (longest was 18 inches).
    I only kept ONE shoal bass for eating as a test–all other shoal bass have been released.
    I have never caught a spotted bass from the Chipola River but I’ve not “bassed” the Chipola since 2000.
    The only 2 black bass species that I’ve ever caught from the Chipola are largemouth and shoal.

    From the Ochlockonee River of Florida since 1991:
    I have caught 1 Suwannee bass for every 7.4 largemouth bass that I’ve caught.
    61% of the largemouth bass were 12 inches or longer in total length.
    81% of the Suwannee bass were 12 inches or longer in total length.
    31% of the Suwannee bass were 14 inches or longer in total length (longest was 16 inches).
    I only kept ONE Suwannee bass for eating as a test–all other Suwannee bass have been released.
    The only 2 black bass species that I’ve ever caught from the Ochlockonee are largemouth and Suwanneel.

    I have caught SHOAL BASS from the Chipola River of Florida and the Chestatee River of Georgia plus SUWANNEE BASS from the Suwannee River, Florida (also the Santa Fe and Ichetucknee rivers of the Suwannee Basin) prior to 1991–so I have no computerized records of those catches!

    I have NEVER caught a shoal bass from the Apalachicola River of Florida.

    I have NEVER caught a Suwannee bass from the St. Marks, Wakulla, Aucilla, or Wacissa rivers of Florida.

    Maybe some of y’all have kept some records and can compare?

    ENJOY,
    “Ocklawahaman”

  4. "Ocklawahaman" Paul Nosca says:

    SMALLMOUTH BASS & WICHITA SPOTTED BASS
    My article, “Florida’s Shoal Bass & Suwannee Bass – Just Where Did These “Smallmouth” Come From?” included the following paragraph regarding smallmouth bass and my experience with them:
    SMALLMOUTH BASS (Micropterus dolomieu) was first described as a species in 1802. “Northern smallmouth” and “Neosho smallmouth” are the two recognized subspecies. I have caught smallmouth bass from the Blue River of Oklahoma.

    I strive to provide the most accurate and honest fishery data in all my writings–even if the information that I’m quoting or reporting from was originally published in the 1800’s! Therefore I feel that I need to include some additional details to that paragraph about SMALLMOUTH BASS.

    It appears now that SMALLMOUTH BASS may include (and I stress the word “may”) at least 3 varieties now (I am not sure if “subspecies” or “clade” may be a better term to describe them–it’s confusing). The three are: Northern smallmouth (Micropterus dolomieu dolomieu), Neosho smallmouth (Micropterus dolomieu velox), and Ouachita smallmouth (Micropterus dolomieu ?). The State of Oklahoma seems to have all 3 of these varieties, thanks (or no thanks) to stocking.

    Excerpted from http://afsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1577/1548-8659(1998)127%3C0393:GSASOS%3E2.0.CO%3B2

    “…We conducted an allozyme survey of genetic variation at 33 gene loci in smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu from 57 localities encompassing most of the range of the species, but with an emphasis (51 samples) on the Interior Highlands (Ozark and Ouachita uplands). Samples exhibited a moderate amount of total genic diversity (HT = 0.068), but high genetic heterogenity (FST = 0.383). Phylogenetic analyses supported recognition of three clades from the Interior Highlands: (1) the previously recognized Neosho smallmouth bass in Ozark tributaries of the middle Arkansas River; (2) the Ouachita smallmouth bass in the Little and Ouachita river drainages of the Ouachita Highlands; and (3) a clade that included populations from the White, Black, Missouri, and other streams in the northern and eastern Ozarks. This third clade was very similar to populations from the Ohio and upper Mississippi river basins, and, on the basis of allele frequency parsimony, more closely related to them than to the Neosho and Ouachita smallmouth basses. To preserve genetic diversity and the options that divergent native stocks represent for future management, stock transfers of smallmouth bass should take into account potential effects on native forms of the species…”

    As to my own experience catching smallmouth bass, I now remember that I have also caught some smallmouth bass from the Cowpasture River in Virginia. The Cowpasture is a tributary of the James River. I caught a mixed-bag from the Cowpasture River on small spinners, over a couple of days “back then”, consisting of: rainbow trout, fallfish, rock bass, and smallmouth bass.

    That’s it for my SMALLMOUTH update.

    On another subject, I plan to do an article soon called “OK Memories Of My Quest For The Wichita Spotted Bass” about my expeditions on West Cache Creek in Oklahoma attempting to find any extant specimens of that spotted bass subspecies.

    Enjoy,
    “Ocklawahaman”

  5. "Ocklawahaman" Paul nosca says:

    More about SMALLMOUTH BASS in Oklahoma

    YES, “Ocklawahaman” was a proud “Okie” with an Oklahoma resident fishing license for a couple of years “back then” (even though I had a Florida driver license) all thanks to the “Be All That You Can Be” U.S. Army. There were some scenic, productive Oklahoma waters that ranked with some of the finest bass or cold-water trout streams that I have ever experienced in Florida or the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia.

    Excerpted from my copy of “Outdoor Oklahoma” (MARCH/APRIL 1993 edition) official magazine of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation:
    “…In an effort to learn more about smallmouth bass, angler use, and economic importance, the Department is funding a study through the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Oklahoma State University. One study being conducted will survey populations in Ozark streams to determine if a pure population of Neosho strain smallmouth still exists. Biologists suspect this strain occurs in the northeast due to the fact that Ozark smallmouth populations often consist of small, slower growing fish, which is characteristic of the Neosho strain. Ouachita stream smallmouth tend to be fewer in number than northeastern populations, but are larger-growing. If a pure population of the Neosho smallmouth does exist, fisheries biologists want to avoid contaminating the gene pool. No one is quite sure of its importance yet, however, introducing a new subspecies in the northeast could disrupt the food web in this delicate ecosystem. Biologists hope the study will shed some light on this subspecies as well as help them determine suitable management techniques. Yet another subspecies of smallmouth–a reservoir strain originating from the Cumberland River system in Tennessee–is being stocked into Oklahoma lakes and creeks without existing smallmouth populations… ”

    I haven’t had a chance to read if the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has updated the preceding smallmouth bass data since 1993–so I am quite willing to believe that ODWC may have issued some newer information about the status of the Neosho, Ouachita, Northern?, and whatever? other forms of smallmouth bass there are that reside inside the State of Oklahoma.

    Sincerely,
    “Ocklawahaman”

  6. "Ocklawahaman" Paul Nosca says:

    More about “WICHITA SPOTTED BASS”
    Back on December 21, 2010 I posted the following excerpts as additional information related to my article “Florida’s Shoal Bass & Suwannee Bass—Just Where Did They Come from?”

    http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=397
    “…This species was formerly composed of three subspecies: the northern spotted bass – M. p. punctulatus, the Alabama spotted bass – M. p. henshalli and the Wichita spotted bass – M. p. wichitae. Cofer (1995) determined the Wichita subspecies was actually a hybrid with M. dolomieu and is therefore invalid…”

    http://www.in-fisherman.com/content/spotted-bass
    “…A third putative subspecies, the Wichita spotted bass, is now considered a hybrid between the spotted and the smallmouth bass…”

    NOW let me add more to my WICHITA SPOTTED BASS information…

    Excerpted from “FISH POPULATION STUDY OF WEST CACHE CREEK WITH EMPHASIS ON SEARCH FOR THE WICHITA SPOTTED BASS, MICROPTERUS PUNCTULATUS WICHITAE” (1979) by Kenneth D. Cook, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Southwest Regional Fisheries, Star Route, Box 66E, Lawton, Oklahoma 73501.
    http://digital.library.okstate.edu/oas/oas_pdf/v59/p1_3.pdf
    “…The Wichita spotted bass, Micropterus punctulatus wichitae Hubbs and Baily, was first reported as M. pseudaplites by Hubbs and Ortenburger (1) in 1929 from collections made by A. I. Ortenburger from West Cache Creek and its tributary Blue Beaver Creek in 1923, 1927, and 1928. A total of 442 specimens are preserved in the National Museum and the University of Oklahoma Museum of Zoology. One specimen collected by W. D. Dean in 1906 is preserved at the National Museum at the University of Michigan. These specimens were examined by Hubbs and Baily in 1940 and reclassified as M. punctulatus wichitae (1). The last collection (2 specimens) determined to be M. p. wichitae was made in 1928 by the Oklahoma Biological Survey from Blue Beaver Creek, a tributary of West Cache Creek…”

    ———————————————————————

    For more than 7 decades during the 20th Century the “WICHITA SPOTTED BASS” was arguably the rarest known form of black bass (family Centrarchidae, genus Micropterus species) in the world. 445 specimens had been collected between 1906 and 1928 from their “native” West Cache Creek, Oklahoma stream basin–but none since that later year. Dams had been built across that creek in several areas since then for lake recreation and to ensure drinking water sources for a federal wildlife refuge’s hoofed animal population. Was an “endemic” riverine bass extirpated because too much of its free-flowing stream environment was converted into a lacustrine one that restricted its ability to migrate for survival during southwest Oklahoma’s severe droughts? “Ocklawahaman”, obeying orders from “Uncle Sam”, was in the “right place” to conduct an independent investigation “back then” of the status of the “WICHITA SPOTTED BASS”. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (Lawton office) provided information “back then” about the most promising segments to search for specimens–along with their belief “that the Wichita spotted bass no longer exists in West Cache Creek”. They would have wanted to know if I was able to collect any specimens “back then” of this presumed extinct black bass variety called the “WICHITA SPOTTED BASS”.

    “BACK THEN”, many years prior to the Cofer 1995 report but several years after the Cook 1979 ODWC paper is when “Ocklawahaman” performed his own independent in-the-field research to attempt to locate any possible extant WICHITA SPOTTED BASS!

    I find it interesting that Bailey and Hubbs identified all three of these black bass forms: Wichita spotted bass, Redeye bass, and Suwannee bass. Maybe male and female black bass of different varities can’t be trusted to live together in the same stream systems? Ha! Ha! Sometimes they cross-breed!

    Enjoy,
    “Ocklawahaman”

  7. "Ocklawahaman" Paul Nosca says:

    More FLORIDA information about shoal and Suwannee bass
    Back on 12/27/2010 I posted historical information from the immortal treatise “Book Of The Black Bass” by James Alexander Henshall (last printing that I could find was 1917).

    One excerpt that I posted was “…There are several rivers in Hernando County, on the Gulf coast of Florida, that burst out from the base of a sandy ridge running parallel with the coast, and some twelve miles from it, whose sources are large springs, fifty or sixty feet deep, and of half an acre in extent. Their waters are remarkably clear and cool, with a strong current until tide-water is reached; and I have no doubt but the small-mouth bass would thrive wonderfully well in the upper portions of the streams if introduced into them, as the conditions all seem favorable, and the large-mouth bass is abundant in them…”

    The Hernando County mention bothered me a little because only the Weeki Wachee River is presently in Hernando County, Florida. Henshall described “several rivers” which to me would also maybe include these Citrus County, Florida SPRING rivers: Chassahowitzka, Homosassa (with the Halls), Crystal, and even possibly on its north border the Withlacoochee (South) fed by Rainbow Springs before the useless dam was placed across it (blocking upstream fish migration from tidewater parts). So I investigated Florida history and found that Citrus County was formed out of part of Hernando County in 1887 after Henshall started writing his book. All 5 or 6 of those rivers were located in or along Hernando County prior to 1887!

    ———————————————————————

    Excerpted from the “FLORIDA ALMANAC 1988-89″ (1988) edited by Del Marth and Martha J. Marth:
    “…Florida’s Black Bass are the largest in the world. Four varieties are recognized: largemouth, Suwannee, spotted and smallmouth. Average weight of the largemouth bass is four pounds, although catches of 12 to 14 pounds are not rare…Despite repeated stocking, Florida has never successfully cultivated the smallmouth bass. In North America the average weight is two pounds. Florida’s unofficial record of 14 pounds exceeds the official records established in smallmouth states…”

    “Ocklawahaman” Note: No mention of shoal (or redeye) bass in this almanac.
    ———————————————————————

    “FLORIDA RIVERS ASSESSMENT” (1989) by the “Florida Department of Natural Resources” in its reports of 50 Florida rivers listed that the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission had records of the existence of shoal bass from the Apalachicola River and the Chipola River (no surprise that those two rivers have shoal bass). The “FLORIDA RIVERS ASSESSMENT” (1989) also reads that the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission had records of Suwannee bass from all these rivers: Aucilla, Econfina, Ochlockonee, St. Marks, Santa Fe, Steinhatchee, Suwannee, Waccasassa, Withlacoochee (North), and Withlacoochee (South). The real Suwannee bass listing surprises here are the Econfina, Steinhatchee, Waccasassa, and (South) Withlacoochee rivers. Other lesser mysteries would be that the Aucilla is listed but not its tributary Wacissa River and that the St. Marks is listed but not its tributary Wakulla River. The (North) Withlacoochee and the Santa Fe are both tributaries of the Suwannee River, so no mystery in those two streams that Suwannee bass would be present. Of course, that the Ochlockonee River contains Suwannee bass is no revelation!

    Sincerely,
    “Ocklawahaman”

  8. "Ocklawahaman" Paul Nosca says:

    The latest from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) about Florida’s “Smallmouth” Black Bass including hybridization. All in “QUOTES” is excerpted from these current FWC webpages…

    http://myfwc.com/fishing/freshwater/black-bass/

    http://myfwc.com/fishing/freshwater/black-bass/bass-biology/

    “Described by Bailey and Hubbs (1949), Suwannee bass might be the most geographically and ecologically restricted species of all the black basses (Ramsey 1975; Koppelman and Garret 2002). They are endemic to north Florida and south Georgia. Suwannee bass inhabit the lower and middle reaches of the Suwannee River, its tributaries, and the Withlacoochee River (Bass and Hitt 1973, Bonvechio et al. 2005). Suwannee bass were first reported in the Ochlocknee River in the 1960s and 1970s (Hellier 1967; Keefer and Ober 1977). Suwannee bass have also been collected from the St. Marks and Wacissa rivers since the 1990s (Hoehn 1998). Biologists have speculated that these latter populations may have originated from unauthorized releases (Cailteux et al. 2002). In fall 2009, they were collected by biologists in the Upper Suwannee River and the Alapaha River. There are no known references from Okefenokee Swamp (Pers. Comm. Will Strong, FWC). Due to this limited range, as well as an intolerance of poor water quality, they are considered to be a species requiring special attention.

    “Suwannee bass are the most colorful of the black basses occurring in Florida and may have dark, diamond-shaped blotches along bronze-colored sides; turquoise-blue coloring on the underside of the head and throat; and eyes may be red. Suwannee bass are strictly stream dwellers, and prefer rocky bottoms with moderate to swift flows. They also have an affinity for brush piles that may provide foraging cover and protection. Crayfish are their most important food source, but their diet also includes fish and freshwater shrimp; in tidal areas, they even eat crabs. Despite their small size, “Suwannees” provide excellent sport on light tackle, with periods of low water the best time to fish. The state record and all-tackle world record Suwannee bass weighed 3.89 pounds and was caught in 1985 from the Florida river after which it was named.

    “In Florida, spotted bass inhabit large creeks and river systems in the Panhandle, from the Apalachicola River system west to the Perdido River. Records suggest that spotted bass were stocked into the Flint River in Georgia and later migrated downstream into the Apalachicola River. The FWC has initiated a genetics study to determine whether all of the spotted bass inhabiting Panhandle streams are spotted bass or whether there might be more than one species present in the state. This research has determined that there are two distinct forms of spotted bass in Florida; spotted bass are only present in the Apalachicola River drainage but a second species inhabits the Apalachicola River system and the streams to the west. This appears to be the species of spotted bass that is native to Florida, and it has not yet been described by scientists. Scientists have proposed calling this species the coastal spotted bass (Micropterus sp. cf. punctulatus).

    “Recent surveys by FWC biologists determined that spotted bass have migrated into the Chipola River, a tributary of the Apalachicola River, and raised concern that this invasive species might be hybridizing with native shoal bass. FWC researchers are using genetics to determine whether fish captured in the Chipola River were shoal bass, spotted bass or hybrids of two species. To date, nearly 10 percent of the fish have been found to be hybrids of shoal bass and spotted bass, or shoal bass and largemouth bass. Biologists will continue to collect samples so that the FWC can monitor whether the number of hybrids is increasing, decreasing or staying the same through time.

    “There is very little information on the biology of spotted bass populations in Florida or how many anglers are interested in catching them. It is known that spotted bass prefer a stream environment that has moderate to swift flow, gravel bottoms and both deep pools and areas of cover provided by snags and brush. Like Florida’s other stream-dwelling basses, spotted bass diets include crayfish and fish, but insects are important as well. Spotted bass are not well known to anglers and do not grow as large as largemouth bass. However, they aggressively attack both natural and artificial baits presented along deep stream bends and fallen trees. The State Record spotted bass weighed 3.75 pounds and was landed in the Apalachicola River in 1985. The All Tackle World Record spotted bass was 10.25 pounds.

    “Almost 200 years after the largemouth bass was scientifically described, the shoal bass achieved official status as a separate black bass species in 1999 (Williams and Burgess 1999). Very little information exists on the biology of this newly recognized species. Shoal bass are endemic to the Apalachicola drainage basin, including the Chattahoochee and Flint river systems in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. In Florida, the majority of shoal bass are found in the upper Chipola River. Shoal bass have also been found below the Jim Woodruff Dam in the Apalachicola River (Wheeler and Allen 2003). Shoal bass are thought to be declining in abundance in many localities within their native range (Williams and Burgess 1999; Wheeler and Allen 2003; Boschung and Mayden 2004).

    “Shoal bass are habitat specialists. They are frequently found in shallow, rocky riffles and shoals in medium- to large-size streams and rivers, and shoal bass are intolerant of reservoir conditions (Wheeler and Allen 2003; Boschung and Mayden 2004). This species has been assigned a status of “Special Concern” by the Endangered Species Committee of the American Fisheries Society (Williams et al. 1989), mainly because of habitat loss and associated distributional declines. In Florida, shoal bass are not officially listed, but their need for special attention is well recognized. Further hybridization with spotted bass, which was documented in 2009 by FWC biologists (Porak et al. 2009), could lead to elimination of “pure” shoal bass. The FWC is studying shoal bass in the Chipola River to gain a better understanding of harvest and population dynamics, and the genetic structure of this species. Shoal bass should not be confused with the redeye bass (M. coosae) or the smallmouth bass (M. dolomieu), neither of which reside in Florida. Shoal bass are distinctively marked on their sides with a pattern of vertical bars resembling tiger stripes. Their primary food is crayfish, fish and insects. Fishing over and near rocky shoals with artificial lures that resemble these prey can provide excellent sport. No state record exists in Florida; however, current state and world record “redeye bass” from the Apalachicola River weighing 7.83 and 8.75 pounds, respectively, are likely misidentified shoal bass.”

    http://myfwc.com/fishing/freshwater/black-bass/fish-management-actions/

    “More than half of the recognized black bass species (Micropterus) are present in Florida Panhandle streams, including the two species with the most restricted ranges, i.e., shoal bass (M. cataractae) and Suwannee bass (M. notius). Although habitat degradation is the most serious threat to panhandle bass populations, there is potential for interspecific hybridization to pose a more immediate threat in some cases. In other states, introductions of non-native species have led to introgressive hybridization and genetic swamping of populations of endemic species. Of all the black bass species, spotted bass appear to be the most opportunistic and hybridization has occurred between redeye X spotted bass (Barwick et al. 2006), largemouth X spotted bass (Godbout et al. 2009) and smallmouth X spotted bass (Pierce and Van Den Avyle 1997; Koppelman 1994). Recently in Florida, shoal bass X spotted bass hybrids were discovered in the Chipola River (Porak and Tringali 2009). The FWC has implemented a genetic study to help conserve native black bass species by (1) determining which species are present in panhandle streams and (2) monitoring populations for evidence of hybridization between species. Thus far, these investigations have uncovered two genetically distinct forms of spotted bass (M. punctulatus and M. sp. cf. punctulatus) in panhandle streams, one of which was previously unrecognized and has yet to be described (M. sp. cf. punctulatus). Members of this provisional taxon appear to be more closely related to Guadalupe bass (M. treculi) than northern spotted bass (M. punctulatus) and may be native inhabitants of western panhandle coastal lotic systems. Genetic studies have also documented that Chipola River shoal bass are hybridizing with M. sp. cf. punctulatus, M. punctulatus; and M. salmoides. During the course of three sampling years, nearly 10 percent of the presumptive shoal bass collected from the Chipola River were hybrids. To determine whether the genetic integrity of this important population of shoal bass is threatened by introgression, genetic samples must continue to be collected at regular intervals and additional work needs to be devoted to identifying factors that are responsible for hybridization. This includes gathering information on previously unrecognized forms of spotted bass, M. sp. cf. punctulatus.”

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