For the fourth straight year, Barnett Reservoir officials, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and reservoir bass anglers joined to stock Florida bass fingerlings in the popular lake near Jackson.

“This year, we had about 100,000 fish to distribute,” said Ryan Jones, the central region fisheries biologist for the MDWFP. “We feel it’s important to keep the Florida gene in the population at Barnett, and that’s more the goal than just adding numbers of fish.

“When we’re restocking with that kind of number, it’s important that we get them to the proper habitat — vegetation — where they can immediately find cover. It enhances their chance for survival.”

About 15 fishermen in their bass boats assisted in the delivery, thanking the agency and the reservoir for the opportunity.

“This is a great thing that you do,” said Mike Norsworthy of Brandon, who brought his two fishing-crazy sons to assist. “I want my boys to be a part of this, because they are the ones who will benefit from this program as the years pass.

“Who knows, maybe one of them will catch a few of these fish years from today in a tournament, and it helps them put some prize money in their pockets. Hey, maybe I will.”

The program has put about one million Florida bass into the 33,000-acre lake over four years. It may be coincidence, but surveys show the bass population on the increase over the past three years including fish moving into the preferred catch range (over the 14-inch minimum).

“Whatever it takes to improve it, I’m all about it,” said another local angler, Shannon Denson. “This lake gets a lot of pressure so every little bit we can do helps.”