Christmas came early for avid bass fisherman Robert Wood, and he could barely contain his excitement.
On May 21, Wood and Dan Wilson, fisheries biologist for the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, transferred 10,000 2-inch F1 tiger bass fingerlings from the Montgomery, Alabama-based American Sport Fish delivery truck onto a boat for stocking in the lake.
“This is going to change the way that fishing is done on Smith Mountain Lake, starting today,” Wood said.
With that, Wood, along with Dewayne Lamb, owner of Captain’s Quarter, Chad Green and Johnny Martin, released nets of tiger bass fingerlings into the lake.
Over the years, Wood said he’s seen the fishing levels decline, especially during tournaments. After meeting with Wilson to discuss ideas, the option that gained momentum was to stock the tiger bass strand of fish in the lake.
“They have traits of northern bass and they grow faster, but they also have southern bass genetics, which grow larger,” Wood said. “You cross the bass over and come up with a true F1 bass that has both northern and southern genetics in it.”
Wood and the other fishermen started a GoFundMe campaign last month to raise money to stock the fingerlings for the next two years, and contributions have continued to come in, Wood said. He is also accepting donations by mail at 5163 Starkey Road, Roanoke, VA 24018 and at SunTrust Bank’s Westlake branch.
“When we have a tournament in three years and the tournament weights go up, that’s going to get out, and that’s going to go all over the country,” Wood said. “It’ll benefit everybody.”
For more information about the SML Bass Restoration project, contact Wood at 529-4955 or email@example.com.