Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

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Collecting Broodstock An Important Tool For Fisheries Management

Today, we feature a story from the Kentucky Department of Fish
and Wildlife Resources, about an interesting technique for
capturing local broodstock for fish rearing and stocking. As the
story says, adult fish spawned for hatchery programs have to come
from somewhere, and the feeling is that local genetics are

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The phone calls started in the late afternoon
along with posts on fishing related web sites. Some anglers
recently witnessed the Fisheries Division of the Kentucky
Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources collect smallmouth bass
broodstock from Dale Hollow Lake and grew concerned something funny
just occurred.

Nothing unusual was afoot. It was part of the fishery management
process that occurs every spring in rivers and reservoirs across

“Without broodstock, we cannot stock fish,” said Ron Brooks,
director of fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and
Wildlife Resources. “We obtain broodstock from public waters. We
also don’t keep a lot of broodstock on hand at the hatchery because
of feeding costs. We only take broodfish from waters that can
handle it and we try and return all of them.”

Fisheries staff at Minor Clark Fish Hatchery in Morehead will
spawn the smallmouth bass taken from Dale Hollow Lake and stock the
offspring in Paintsville Lake. Smallmouth bass broodstock borrowed
from Dale Hollow Lake produced the fish stocked in Laurel River
Lake in the mid 1980s. Laurel River Lake is now one of the better
trophy smallmouth bass lakes in the upper South and it produced a
former 8.46-pound Kentucky state record.

“The Dale Hollow strain reproduces well in reservoirs,” said
Gerry Buynak, assistant director of fisheries for Kentucky Fish and
Wildlife. “Plus, Dale Hollow smallmouth bass broodstock are proven
to work and have the best genetics.”

The waters of Dale Hollow Lake birthed the three biggest
smallmouth bass ever recorded: the 11-pound, 15-ounce Kentucky
state and all tackle world record taken by David Hayes in 1955, a
10.875 pounder caught in 1969 and a 10.5 pounder taken in 1986. The
lake produced six of the top 10 entries on ESPNs Top 25 smallmouth
bass of all time.

Fisheries personnel will stock between 20,000 and 30,000 2-inch
smallmouth bass in Paintsville Lake in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Any
extra hatchery production goes back into Dale Hollow Lake.

“We will return the broodfish in three years. We are holding
them for three years because we don’t want to go back every spring
and shock people’s fishing holes,” Brooks said. “The broodfish be
well fed and will go back into the lake in better shape than we got

Kentuckians would not enjoy the quality muskellunge fishing
found in Cave Run Lake, Buckhorn Lake, Green River Lake or our
native muskellunge streams without the broodstock gathering

“We go to the Licking River every spring and get fresh
muskellunge broodstock for the hatchery,” Buynak said. “Without
stocking, the muskellunge fishery in Kentucky would be very limited
and unsustainable.”

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife obtains sauger from the Cumberland
River below Wolf Creek Dam and Kentucky River, native walleye from
Rockcastle River and Lake Erie strain walleye from several
reservoirs for hatchery broodstock.

“Spring is the best time to collect broodfish,” Buynak
explained. “We replenish our broodstock at the hatchery, spawn them
and release the bigger ones back into where we got them and keep
some of the small to medium-sized ones at the hatchery in case we
need them.”

Buying eggs produced from outside Kentucky for rearing in our
hatcheries isn’t practical, except for the trout.

“Every state gets their broodstock from somewhere,” Buynak said.
“If the process is working, why buy them from someone? We also want
to spawn native fish from our waters to keep our native genetics
going when we stock.”

If you see a noisy, odd-looking boat with steel tentacles
hanging in the water in front of it and a fish stocking truck at
the ramp, you are not witnessing funny business. Kentucky Fish and
Wildlife fisheries personnel are in the process of making better
fishing in the future for all Kentuckians to enjoy.


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