Archive for the 'Fishing' Category

Taking Texas Rivers on the Road

Friday, May 26th, 2017
Texas Rivers conservation license plate.

Texas Rivers conservation license plate.

This is Passport to Texas

If you’ve fished, paddled or even picnicked along a Texas river, you know how special they are. Take that appreciation on the road with a new Texas Rivers conservation license plate.

It’s a really beautiful view of a Hill Country river with a kayaker and a fly angler off in the distance. It’s just a really scenic landscape that points to the values that we all have for Texas rivers and rivers in general.

Tim Birdsong is a rivers biologist.

There are all these different aesthetic, and ecological and recreational and economic values tied to rivers, whether it’s water supply, or flood abatement, or bank, wade or kayak fishing. Tubing. You name it. There are reasons we value rivers. And Parks and Wildlife works to conserve Texas rivers.

Fish and wildlife conservation, habitat restoration, and bank access for recreational use. The new Texas Rivers conservation plate helps to support it all.

The sale of the license plate will generate $22 for the department for every plate sold. And, that’s non-federal funding that’s really important in matching federal grants that we’ve been able to tap to support these programs. So, if you love Texas rivers, you can show your support, and support of Parks and Wildlife’s river conservation programs by purchasing a plate.

Find the Texas Rivers conservation plate and how the money’s spent at conservationplate.org.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Texas River Access

Thursday, May 25th, 2017
Tom Birdsong enjoying river access.

Tom Birdsong enjoying river access.

This is Passport to Texas

Legal access to Texas Rivers can be challenging.

Texas is a private land state. Over 95% of the land in the state is privately owned, and that’s reflected in ownership of banks along rivers.

Tim Birdsong is a rivers biologist. Texas Parks and Wildlife’s paddling trails program works with communities to create access to some of the 191,000 miles of Texas Rivers. Currently, we have 70 trails in the system.

Seventy trails, 191,000 miles of rivers—that’s a drop in the bucket. There are lots of high quality river segments that aren’t accessible because of this preponderance of private lands ownership. So, we look for opportunities to bring landowners into the mix, and provide a win-win scenario where we can provide a cost share arrangement; provide payments to landowners to lease private lands for public access to rivers. And this is real similar to our public hunting program that we’ve had in place for years.

This partnership with local landowners allows Texans to more fully enjoy the natural beauty that our rivers have to offer.

We began leasing these private lands for access to bank, wade and kayak fishing in 2012. And now, we’re up to 19 different lease-access sites statewide on 10 different rivers.

Texas Parks and Wildlife seeks landowners with riverfront property strategically positioned to expand current Texas Padding Trails, connect to parks, or provide connections to other public river access areas. Find program details on the TPW website.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Bass Lakes in Texas

Monday, May 22nd, 2017
Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake, a great place to fish for largemouth bass.

Thus is Passport to Texas

Texas offers some of the finest bass fishing lakes around.

To the east, Sam Rayburn Reservoir is easily this state’s most popular bass tournament destination. Sam Rayburn may be the most consistent bass lake in Texas, and just finished hosting the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest.

Caddo Lake, on the border of Texas and Louisiana is a bass angler’s dream. It’s the state’s only natural occurring lake. Caddo is shallow, so, if you like shallow water fishing—this lake’s for you. Plenty of lunkers have come from Caddo, including one this past March that weighed in at a whopping 15.7 pounds.

Toledo Bend Reservoir is another lake we share with Louisiana, and it makes both states proud. It’s been number one on Bassmasters top 100 bass lakes for two years. Over the past few years anglers have reeled in more than 100 10 pound bass from the water annually.

Down south, Falcon International Reservoir, which Texas shares with Mexico, has fish numbers that fluctuate along with the water level. Even so, Falcon’s a favorite among many bass anglers because fishermen know that their next cast could produce a 10-pounder.

Find more Texas Bass lakes on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show…Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Caring for Tournament Caught Bass

Friday, May 19th, 2017
Todd Driscoll with a big bass

Todd Driscoll with a big bass

This is Passport to Texas

During the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest Tournament each professional angler has a judge onboard to weigh and immediately release their catch.

During a typical tournament, you know, anglers are allowed to keep five legal fish per person in a live well in the boat.

Inland fisheries district biologist, Todd Driscoll says immediately releasing them back into the lake reduces stress to the bass and the risk of livewell-related mortality.

Study after study have shown that you can pretty much average that at about five percent. So, during one of these tournaments, if there’s a hundred bass that are caught, weighed and immediately released, ninety-five of those bass are going to be plum fine and in great shape. Whereas, with a traditional tournament—bass held in live wells and taken to the scales—around 25 percent die. So, it’s five percent versus twenty five percent. And that’s what makes the catch, weigh and immediate release format so much better.

Texas Parks and Wildlife perfected the format over 10 years of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic, where it was first implemented in a large, professional-level tournament—with only minor hesitation from pro anglers.

When you implement that catch, weigh and immediate release format, the entire tournament results are predicated on what that judge does. So, they’re highly trained; they absolutely know what they’re doing. And after one event, nearly all the tournament anglers were behind that process.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Texas’ Top Bass Lakes

Thursday, May 18th, 2017
Todd Driscoll doing field work.

Todd Driscoll doing field work.

This is Passport to Texas

District fisheries biologists like Todd Driscoll monitor fish populations in public bodies of water.

There are 15 other people like me in the state of Texas. And we primarily monitor the fish populations in public reservoirs, recommend fish stockings, habitat improvements, set length limits and bag limits relative to harvest…

Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend are two east Texas reservoirs under Driscoll’s care. Both are nationally recognized bass lakes.

It’s all about the habitat. You know, over here in East Texas, we’re blessed with fairly ample rainfall during a normal year, and that means we have fairly normal water levels in both of those manmade reservoirs. And normal water levels equal pretty good habitat. And good habitat leads to very consistent fish reproduction and consistent numbers of adult fish for anglers to catch.

Twice now, Toledo Bend Reservoir claimed the number one spot on Bassmaster’s list of 100 best bass lakes in the nation. And it’s no accident.

Inland fisheries at Texas Parks and Wildlife—we hire good people. And we tend to be on the cutting edge of the science. Our Heart of the Hills Research Center in Kerrville helps a lot with that. And, no doubt, that along with good productive watersheds and reservoirs in Texas all lead to good fishing.

Discover Texas’ diverse fishing opportunities across the state when you log onto the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.