Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) geneticist Dijar Lutz-Carrillo is conducting DNA analysis on a 5.62-pound bass caught from Lake Alan Henry January 15 to determine if it is a spotted bass.
If the tests are positive, the fish will become the new state record spotted bass, eclipsing the previous record of 5.56 pounds caught from Lake O’ the Pines in 1966.
The fish was caught by Erik Atkins of Lubbock in a tournament and measured 22.75 inches in length and 15 inches in girth.
“I was fishing in three to five feet of water with a shaky-head worm, looking for a fish coming up to feed on the rocks,” Atkins said. “I turned the reel two cranks and she took it.”
TPWD stocked 150 adult spotted bass from Alabama in Lake Alan Henry in 1996. “These bass are native to the Mobile Bay drainage in Alabama and were stocked experimentally in Texas since their growth rate is similar to largemouth bass and they live longer than the spotted bass known as Kentucky bass (Micropterus punctulatus) native to the Ohio and central and lower Mississippi River valleys,” said Charlie Munger, TPWD Inland Fisheries biologist for Lake Alan Henry. “Alan Henry has the only population of Alabama spotted bass (Micropterus henshalli) in the state.”
Kentucky spotted bass are commonly found in East Texas streams. “Since there is no way for anglers to visually differentiate between the species of spotted bass, they are both considered to be simply spotted bass for record purposes,” Munger said.
The lateral line on spotted bass is broken, and spots on their lower sides form rows of spots. The closed mouth of a spotted bass does not extend beyond the back margin of the eye. An identification guide can be found at http://archive.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/bkbass_diagrams.phtml.
Munger says a study of the spotted bass in Lake Alan Henry shows that there has been no hybridization of spotted bass with largemouth bass. “We detected no hybridization at all,” he said.
Following a quarantine period the fish will be placed on display at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.