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The Texas Study

Editor's Note: Barry Smith of Montgomery, Alabama, a longtime fisheries biologist, co-owns American Sport Fish in Pike Road, Alabama, one of the largest private hatcheries in the Southeast, with his partner Don Keller. Smith and Keller have developed several breeds of fish that landowners enjoy stocking in their ponds that may find their way to public waters one day.

To keep the readers of Strike King's Webpage updated on the newest information and the future of bass fishing, Strike King talked with Smith about the two, new strains of super bass that have been developed and now are being stocked into farm ponds, the Tiger Bass and the Gorilla Bass.

Question: What has been proven in the state of Texas about aggression in bass?

Answer: Some studies in Texas have proved one of the same things that we knew all along -- that the characteristic of aggressiveness in bass is hereditary. In other words, you can breed aggressiveness into a bass population by selecting those aggressive individuals and breeding them. The biologists conducting the Texas study marked each bass that they caught while fishing. Then they took all the bass that had more than one mark and began breeding them.

Question: What percentage of bass in that angler study were never caught?

Answer: Thirty to 40 percent of the bass never bit a lure. The biologists also bred those fish that they couldn't catch. They discovered that the fish that were easier to catch made babies that were easier to catch, and those that were harder to catch made babies that were harder to catch. That substantiated the fact that this link was hereditary in bass.

Question: How many generations of bass have you bred to get the Gorilla Bass?

Answer: We've been selectively breeding for this Gorilla Bass for about 12 years. This process is long and drawn-out. We go through and separate the males and females of the Florida strain largemouth and the aggressive northern strain we've developed -- the Tiger Bass. Then we pair these fish. We usually spawn a female Florida bass with a male Tiger Bass. After we spawn them, we separate them again.

Question: These fish will take pelleted food, won't they?

Answer: Yes, the F1 Gorillas will have a tendency to take pelleted food. That tendency comes from the northern strain influence in the Gorilla.

Question: How fast do the Gorilla Bass that feed on pellets grow?

Answer: They grow fairly rapidly. We expect them to gain a pound a year. Once, we found a year-old Gorilla that weighed 4 pounds.

For more information about American Sport Fish, write P.O. Box 20050, Montgomery, AL 36120, or call (334) 281-7703.