MUD LAKE - Everyone knows that ducks and geese head south for the winter, but what about largemouth bass? Well bass don't actually migrate south for the winter, but thanks to the joint efforts of IDFG and the Eagle Rock Bassmasters, 500 large bass formerly of Bonner Lake in extreme northern Idaho will now be calling Mud Lake home.
When members of the Eagle Rock Bassmasters heard about the winter-kill that occurred at Mud Lake last winter they contacted IDFG and said they wanted to help out. According to Regional Fisheries Manager Jim Fredericks, "They called and said they would be willing to help out with people and money to get more bass for Mud Lake". Thanks to the fact that Fredericks had formerly worked in the Panhandle Region for IDFG, he just happened to know of a lake in northern Idaho that had largemouth bass that might be available thanks to a shift in management direction.
The distance as the crow flies between Mud Lake and Bonners is about 350 miles, by truck it's closer to 600 miles! On Sunday, October 17, IDFG fishery personnel and members of the Bassmasters made the 9 hour trek to Bonner Lake. Once there they didn't have much time to rest. They spent the better portion of the night collecting the potential transplants. Biologists and volunteers used a boat equipped with a special electrical system that emanates electricity that draws fish towards the boat, just like moths to a flame. Fortunately, the bass are only stunned, not harmed. They were netted and then placed in a specially designed 500 gallon tank in the back of an IDFG and prepped for their nine hour journey to their new home at Mud Lake.
About 500 fish were caught, ranging in size from 6-inch youngsters to 14-inch catchables. According to Jeff Gibson of the Eagle Rock Bassmasters, "We're going to be sure and keep our eyes on these this to make sure they grow and multiply!" Eagle Rock Bassmasters are part of B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society) that was started in 1967 and has over 600,000 members worldwide. Their tournaments emphasize a catch-and-release philosophy.
To learn more about fishing in the Upper Snake Region you can contact the regional office at 208-525-7290. To learn more about the Eagle Rock Bassmasters call Jeff Gibson at 528-9247.