IMMOKALEE, FL. -- During a recent fishing tournament, John Stewart, 54, of Alva caught, documented and released an 8-pound, 2-ounce Florida largemouth bass on Immokalee's Lake Trafford.
Over the past several years, Lake Trafford has been the focus of a major multi-agency restoration project. Restoration efforts included the dredging of over 6 million cubic yards of muck from the lake and re-establishing native vegatation. In the past, the muck triggered algal blooms and fish kills.
Largemouth bass had been the sport fish species most impacted by the degraded habitat conditions over the past 20 years.Excessive amounts of muck lead to low oxygen levels that nearly eliminated the largemouth bass population from the lake. The lake’s poor condition also impacted bluegill, crappie and redear sunfish, but to a lesser extent. After dredging, the FWC stocked about 500,000 largemouth bass fingerlings to supplement the native Lake Trafford community and jump-start the recovery of the fishery.
“Almost four years ago to the day, I had the privilege of participating in the honorary ‘first cast’ into the freshly dredged Lake Trafford at the celebration of our collective restoration efforts,” said FWC Commissioner Ron Bergeron. “This is exactly the kind of success I envision for all the fish and wildlife of south Florida, including the Everglades, when I speak about our need to work together for the benefit of the environment.”
The FWC continues to contribute to restoration and habitat enhancement at Lake Trafford, and across Florida, through its Aquatic Habitat and Conservation Section.
How are other anglers doing on Lake Trafford?
“A week after the tournament where John Stewart caught his fish, Gary Stenic caught an 8-and-3-quarter pounder,” said Lake Trafford Marina owner Ski Olesky, “We’re seeing real improvement in the size and quality of bass being caught.”
For making the first approved TrophyCatch submission from Lake Trafford, Stewart qualifies for a special set of prizes including a U.S. Reel casting reel, a Glen Lau DVD and a gift certificate from Alligators and Airboats at Lake Trafford Marina, as well as the standard TrophyCatch incentives.