Colton Dennis Black Bass Coordinator
The Black Bass Program was established by the AGFC in 2001 to direct specific attention to Arkansas’s most sought-after game fish - largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass. The primary purpose of the program is to assist AGFC Fisheries Division district biologists with intensive management of black bass species statewide, while serving the tournament and non-tournament bass angling public.
The program enhances bass fishing opportunities for anglers through:
Research – assessing impacts of the Largemouth Bass Virus in Arkansas, evaluating our Florida-strain largemouth bass genetics program, evaluating our Trophy Bass Management program, determining post-stocking success of black bass in Arkansas waters, and conducting age, growth and health assessments on bass populations statewide.
Assisting other Fisheries Biologists – assisting with various sampling techniques to evaluate and monitor our bass populations, assisting with collection of brood stock and distribution of fingerlings, conducting data analysis and computer simulations to predict impacts of size and harvest restrictions on bass populations, and using various graphic models to assist with evaluating harvest restrictions following implementation.
Habitat Improvement – coordinating projects that establish native aquatic vegetation in reservoirs for black bass nursery cover and assisting with natural and artificial fish shelter/habitat construction and placement.
Tournament Assistance Program – providing technical assistance and support at live-release tournaments, providing fish-hauling trucks to large tournaments for proper fish handling, care and release after tournaments, and working cooperatively with tournament directors and anglers to refine weigh-in procedures and reduce mortality, displacement and access conflicts.
Administering the Arkansas Tournament Information Program – collecting, analyzing, and documenting volunteer tournament data into a report based on the success of tournaments around the state. This report provides valuable information for tournament anglers and biologists to use in tracking trends in bass angling success and catch rates over time.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission developed its first comprehensive largemouth bass management plan in 1990. The plan later was revised and approved in 2002. The third, and latest, version of the plan focuses not only on largemouth bass, but also spotted bass and smallmouth bass in Arkansas's reservoirs and lakes.
The AGFC strongly supports Arkansas junior high, high school and college fishing teams. Through a new program, that AGFC's Black Bass Program is offering habitat enhancement grants of $500 to $1,000 to school fishing teams engaged in building brush piles and other habitat enhancements to offset the costs of improving our state's fisheries. Contact one of the program's staff listed below to learn how to get involved in fisheries conservation in The Natural State.