To dive into the exciting world of bass genetics, fisheries managers employ a straightforward approach – the fin clip. Collecting a fin clip facilitates the extraction of genetic samples from bass populations without harming the fish. By removing a small section of fin, which will grow back, managers can unveil the fish’s genetic secrets, providing invaluable insights into the population’s genetic diversity. This non-invasive and practical approach is a valuable tool for managers to collect data on successful stockings, improve broodstock quality, evaluate trophy potential, and so much more.

The Black Bass Program employed this technique at the recent Lake Ouachita BASS Open tournament. During the first day of the event, Evan Kung caught a 9-pound 14-ounce bass. The next day, Zach Goutremout topped Evan with a bass weighing 10 pounds 14 ounces. You may have noticed that we didn’t say “Largemouth Bass.” By collecting fin clips from these two fish, we can determine whether these fish were Largemouth Bass, Florida Bass, or a mix of the two (hybrid).

Why is it important to know the genetic makeup of these fish? The AGFC has been stocking Florida Bass into Lake Ouachita since 2007. The genetic data gathered from fin clips, such as the ones mentioned above, will contribute to our understanding of whether Florida bass stocking efforts are producing larger bass in Lake Ouachita. We will provide updates on this initiative and other ongoing efforts in the future as we work to gain a better understanding of our bass genetics in Arkansas.