- Associated Press - Monday, July 21, 2014

ZAPATA, Texas (AP) - Texas wildlife officials trying to spawn bigger largemouth bass and lure more anglers have turned to an oral surgeon’s private lake to experiment with fish genetics, environment and nutrition.

Dr. Gary Schwarz has a 15-year contract with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, allowing the agency to use the new lake on his ranch near Zapata, about 45 miles southeast of Laredo, the San Antonio Express-News (https://bit.ly/1kM9uXQ ) reported Monday.

The TPWD’s ShareLunker program encourages anglers to lend or donate largemouth bass weighing more than 13 pounds for spawning purposes.

Schwarz’s acquired expertise and research on another one of his projects, La Perla Ranch, helped to raise bass in a way he thought would produce best results.

“Those bass went into a place prepared for them with forage out the wazoo and no other bass,” Schwarz said. “I believe that the reason for that has to do with habitat and nutrition.”

Schwarz convinced Allen Forshage, director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Freshwater Fishing Center, that his new site could help.

“It was chock full of nutritious things to eat because of the diversity in water depths and edge effect I had created in the main lakes where the bass lived,” Schwarz said.

Schwarz, who says he is footing most of the project’s bill, was able to create the forage ponds because he bought Rio Grande irrigation rights with the property.

“All of our contract lakes where we’re monitoring the max size are for 15 years because that’s how long it takes for them to get at least that size,” Forshage said. “They can get there in as short as eight years, but the average lunker is 11 years old. We designed the length of the study to go beyond that.”

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Information from: San Antonio Express-News, https://www.mysanantonio.com

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