Renovated Lake Monticello sees first batch of Florida Bass
June 14, 2023
MONTICELLO — Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists stocked nearly 1,000 extra-large pure Florida largemouth bass fingerlings into Lake Monticello during May to lay the foundation for trophy-sized bass potential in this southeast Arkansas reservoir.
Lake Monticello underwent an extensive renovation from 2019-2021 as a result of repairs needing to be completed at the dam by the lake’s owners, the city of Monticello. The construction required the lake to be drained, which offered an opportunity for the AGFC to remove undesirable species, bolster habitat and nutrients and start fresh with game fish that were both desired by anglers and showed a history of exceptional growth in the lake’s first 22 years.
AGFC Regional Fisheries Supervisor Kris Nault said Lake Montiicello took five years to reach full pool during its original construction and boat ramps were usable within four years. “There were two drought years within that time period that slowed the rate at which the lake filled,” Nault said of the original construction.
The lake has filled a bit quicker since the renovation, with roughly 1,008 acres of its total 1,510-acre capacity reached since the dam was closed in November 2021.
“The water level is still too low to launch a boat on the lake,” Nault said. “At the Hunger Run access last week, the water level was up to within 8 feet of the end of the boat ramp.”
Of the Florida largemouth bass stocked, 589 were 9-11 inches long and 400 were 6-8 inches long. AGFC staff also stocked 52,000 2- to 3-inch bluegill in May to provide future panfishing opportunities as well as additional forage for larger species of fish.
“The water was high enough for us to stock directly into the lake from the hatchery trucks this spring,” Nault said. “We had to use ATVs last November to haul fish 220 yards to the water from the trucks. That was our first stocking of forage since the renovation.”
Approximately 180,000 fathead minnows, 111,900 golden shiners, 78,840 bluegill, and 82,056 redear sunfish were stocked in November to build the forage base before introduction of predatory game fish.
Lake Monticello will receive an additional stocking of Florida largemouth bass fingerlings this summer. This fall, the lake is scheduled to be stocked with bluegill, redear sunfish, fathead minnows, golden shiners, threadfin shad and black crappie.
Visit https://www.agfc.com/en/news/tag/lake-monticello/ for more information about the Lake Monticello renovation.
The water level at Monticello was high enough to allow stocking of Florida bass directly from the hatchery truck in May.
Florida largemouth fingerlings stocked in Monticello during May were larger than most bass stocked in the U.S. to give them a head start on competition.
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