The number one goal of many pond owners is to grow trophy bass. Because of this, largemouth bass genetics has become an interesting subject among anglers and pond owners alike. By now, most anglers have heard of the Florida strain largemouth bass thanks to their trophy potential. Florida strain largemouth bass exhibit a growth potential far beyond that of our native northern strain largemouth bass; however, there is a reason they are called Florida strain, they don’t do well in cold water. If only there was a way to get Florida largemouth bass growth potential in cooler climates. Now, there may be.
Many states have been stocking Florida strain largemouth bass where they don’t naturally exist since the early 1970s. The goal of these stockings is not to increase the number of bass in the population, but to increase trophy potential by introducing Florida strain genetics into the system. When a Florida strain largemouth bass spawns with a northern strain largemouth bass, a cross is produced. The resulting fish is most commonly called an F1 (first generation FLMB X NLMB), and carries traits from each of the parent species.
The desired F1 bass has the trophy potential of a Florida strain largemouth bass and the thermal tolerance of a northern strain largemouth bass. Although climate still has a major effect on growth rates, the potential for larger maximum sizes is increased. It became apparent pretty quickly that these Florida strain largemouth bass stockings were successful, as states like Oklahoma boasted many new state record largemouth bass throughout the 1990s and 2000s. However, it only worked as far north as juvenile, or fingerling Florida strain largemouth bass could survive. This created the need for a commercially available F1 largemouth bass. Multiple commercial hatcheries across the south began propagating and selling F1s under many names, the most recognized being Tiger Bass®, a trademarked fish produced by American Sportfish Hatchery. According to the American Sportfish Hatchery website, Tiger Bass® are bred for aggression and fast growth . Whether or not the Tiger Bass® is superior to other F1 largemouth bass available on the market, I can’t say, but a lot of science has gone into these fish. One thing I can say for sure, the hype on Florida strain largemouth bass/northern strain largemouth bass crosses is justified, as Oklahoma’s current state record largemouth bass is a cross of some degree.
So, if you are interested in boosting the trophy potential of largemouth bass in your pond and truly growing giants, you may want to look into stocking F1s of some sort. Just remember, the work doesn’t stop at stocking. Growing trophy bass requires ample forage, good habitat, and proper management. Get more tips and advice from our pond management page, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your local fisheries biologist.