RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) — Virginia wildlife officials are warning of an invasive species that has been discovered in several lakes in the state.
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) says the Alabama Bass is an invasive black bass species native to Alabama and parts of Georgia that threatens both Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass through competition and hybridization.
The species has been detected at Claytor Lake, Philpott Lake, Martinsville Reservoir, and Lake Gaston.
The DGIF says further spread of the species may jeopardize bass fisheries, including South Holston Reservoir.
Alabama Bass look identical to Spotted Bass, which is native to Southwest Virginia.
“Although Alabama Bass can grow somewhat larger than Spotted Bass, they have a tendency to become stunted, ultimately creating a fishery dominated by small bass,” the DGIF said in a news release.
The jaw of Alabama Bass lines up with the middle rear of the eye, while Largemouth Bass jaws extend past the eye. Alabama Bass have a dark, blotchy lateral band from head to tail, and have spots below this band. Largemouth Bass have a more continuous lateral band. Alabama Bass also typically have a tooth patch on their tongue, which is rare in Largemouth Bass. Alabama and Spotted Bass are differentiated by differences in lateral line scale counts or genetic analysis.Virginia DGIF
Anglers who believe they have captured an Alabama Bass are encouraged to take a photo of the fish, clip off a thumbnail-sized portion of one of the pelvic fins, and store the fin clip dry in an envelope. The pelvic fins are located on the bottom of the fish, just under the head. They should then either contact DGIF at email@example.com or at 804 367-1293.