ELEPHANT BUTTE – The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish recently stocked over 100,000 fingerling bass in Elephant Butte Lake and put another 80,000 in numerous lakes around the state.
The young bass were obtained from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park’s Miles City Fish Hatchery, said Kevin Gardner, warmwater fisheries supervisor for the department.
Some of the largemouth bass were stocked in Alto Lake near Ruidoso, where it is expected they will grow to prey upon an unwanted population of discarded goldfish living there. They also will provide anglers with improved fishing opportunities in the area, Gardner said.
An estimated 6,200 bass from the same shipment went to Bill Evans Lake, another 20,000 were stocked in Ute Lake and Clayton Lake received about 8,800 of the fingerlings. Maxwell and Springer lakes got about 14,000 fish while Stubblefield Lake received about 30,000 of the young bass.
The stockings should help supplement natural bass reproduction that has been reduced in recent years due to drought-related low water levels at those lakes, Gardner said.
The fingerlings stocked at Elephant Butte Lake will find new homes amid habitat improvement projects recently installed by department staff and local volunteers. Those improvements include recycled and submerged Christmas trees and sunken “spider blocks” made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe and concrete. Also installed were floating islands with young trees that can be inverted to provide habitat for fish among the branches and leaves.
A group of concerned bass anglers from the area brought their boats and gathered at sunrise to assist in the stocking at Elephant Butte Lake State Park. Park staff also were on hand to oversee and participate.
“All of this would not have been possible without the help of partnering states and the volunteers,” Gardner said. “It’s always great to see our partners turn out to take part in something they value and enjoy.”