Virginia DGIF warns of invasive bass species detected in lakes across southwest Virginia

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(Photo: Courtesy of the iNaturalist Angling for Black Bass Conservation Project via the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries)

(Photo: Courtesy of the iNaturalist Angling for Black Bass Conservation Project via the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries)

(WFXR) — Wildlife officials are warning Virginians of an invasive species of fish that has already been discovered in several lakes in the southwestern region of the Commonwealth.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) says the Alabama Bass — an invasive black bass species native to Alabama and parts of Georgia — threatens both Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass through competition and hybridization.

Officials say the species has already been detected at Claytor Lake, Philpott Lake, Martinsville Reservoir, and Lake Gaston. According to the DGIF, further spread of the species may jeopardize bass fisheries, including Smith Mountain Lake and Lake Moomaw

Wildlife officials say Alabama Bass look identical to Spotted Bass, which is native to southwest Virginia. However, there are a few differences between this invasive species and other native fish:

“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 Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
(Photos: Courtesy of the iNaturalist Angling for Black Bass Conservation Project via the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries)

Anglers who believe they have captured an Alabama Bass are encouraged to take a photo of the fish; cut off a thumbnail-sized portion of one of the pelvic fins, which are located on the bottom of the fish, just under the head; store the fin clip dry in an envelope; and contact DGIF at (804) 367-1293 or at fisheries@dgif.virginia.gov.

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