Archive for the 'Fishing' Category

Aquaponics: Using Fish to Grow Food

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Aquaponic system

Aquaponic system

This is Passport to Texas

I predict the next big trend in food production – at least for small farm/commercial operations and backyard gardening enthusiasts – will be aquaponics.

05— Simply – aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics.

Monica McGarrity is an aquatic invasive species biologist and coordinates permits for exotic species. The basic premise of aquaponics is simple.

07—Waste created from the fish is used to feed the plants; and it’s typically a completely closed recirculating system.

Of course, in practice aquaponics is more involved, and there are rules, permits and fees to consider. Oh, and fish.

34—Some folks do use species that are native to Texas, including catfish and sunfish; the department does not regulate those as long as the brood fish come from an aquaculture source, not from the wild population. But when it comes to these harmful or potentially harmful species [such as tilapia], an exotic species permit may be required. The key distinction is going to be whether they’re engaging in personal aquaponics or commercial aquaponics. If they’re not selling the fish, and the fish are Mozambique tilapia, then a permit is not required.

Monica McGarrity returns tomorrow to tell us more about aquaponics in Texas.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series and funds diverse conservation projects in Texas.

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

Fishing: Saltwater Fishing Forecast

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Saltwater Fishing

Saltwater Fishing

This is Passport to Texas

Saltwater anglers have a lot to look forward to in 2014.

08— 2014 looks great! We’ve got trout populations that are doing well. Flounder are showing signs of rebounding since the November gigging ban has been put in place.

And that’s just the beginning, says Art Morris, fisheries outreach specialist with coastal fisheries.

20—Red drum are holding their own. Black drum are everywhere. Our trout numbers have risen recently in the last couple of years from a point where we had concerns – especially in the mid-coast. We’re still watching those trends closely, and have recently proposed reducing the bag limit to five up the coast, as we currently have in the Lower Laguna Madre. Nevertheless, we should see some big trout coming in this year. Overall the number of fish are good on the coast.

Recent rains mean better environmental conditions. And when it’s good for the fish, it’s good for the fisherman.

20—Those seeking redfish are probably going to want to hit the mid-coast. We’ve got other species that are basically tropical in nature, like gray snapper –they’re abundant. Hopefully, we’ll have some tarpon this year; snook have been making the rounds up the coast in recent years due to the warmer winters. We’ve got a good variety and good numbers of fish. I think we’ll have a good year in 2014.

Art Morris says coastal fishing is like the proverbial box of chocolates.

03— You never know what you’re going to get. Nevertheless, one thing is certain: it’s all going to be good.

Read more of Art Morris’ thoughts on the 2014 saltwater fishing forecast in TPW Magazine’s February Digital Fishing issue. For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Fishing: Drought and the White Bass Run

Friday, March 21st, 2014

A stringer of White Bass at Colorado Bend State Park

A stringer of White Bass at Colorado Bend State Park

This is Passport to Texas

The springtime white bass run is among the most anticipated freshwater angling events in the state.

14—Generations after generations seek these fish during this time, and it’s a good way to get kids involved in fishing. So there are a lot of traditional values to this fishery. And, there’s also a big economic impact by this fishery. It’s very important to our economy.

Marcos De Jesus is a fisheries biologist. Water levels in reservoirs are at historic lows, and river flows are also down due to severe drought, and that spells trouble for spring’s white bass run.

23—Because the water is so low, the connectivity between the lakes and the rivers are being lost. So, without the flows that the fish need, they’re not running up river [to spawn]. So, our concern is the fishery is not there for our anglers, and number two, these fish are not reproducing properly. And that starts to concern us because these fish are short lived, and we need them to reproduce within the second or third year.

De Jesus says east Texas isn’t experiencing flow issues like the Hill Country; so, there will be fish runs available in the state.

12—Anglers need to understand that these drought cycles occur, and that the fish still can be caught in the main reservoirs. It’s just that they may not be able to catch them in those typical areas upriver where people traditionally catch them.

Find the fishing forecast on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

Fishing: White Bass Run

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

White Bass

White Bass

This is Passport to Texas

In December and January, while we’re busy with the holidays and staying warm indoors, white bass begin to congregate where rivers and reservoirs meet.

06—And those fish are getting ready for those environmental cues to happen so they can actually all start migrating and running up river.

Environmental cues like changes in temperature and water flows. Marcos De Jesus is a fisheries biologist. When the time is right, white bass move up river to spawn, which is something anglers eagerly anticipate each year.

10—Some of them go up pretty far – as far as they can swim to complete their spawning run. So, they become congregated and create excitement for the anglers, because once they’re congregated they’re really fun to catch.

East and Central Texas offer many white bass fishing opportunities. De Jesus says while they’re active year round, springtime runs practically set up anglers for success.

27—As we get into the springtime, they congregate towards the mouth of the river waiting for those cues. Right when they’re at the mouth of the river, they’re easy to catch. But, the easiest time to catch them is when they’re running up river spawning in those shallow waters, because you can actually catch them from the bank.

Do these fish give you a good fight?

Definitely. They’re very great fighters. They become aggressive, and they take on many types of lures and live bait. Once they hook on – they’ll fight pretty hard.

How will the lingering drought affect this year’s white bass run? That’s tomorrow.

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

Conservation: Creating Flow for Paddlefish

Thursday, March 6th, 2014



This is Passport to Texas

With a huge mouth and long paddle-shaped snout, the prehistoric paddlefish is a threatened species in Texas. In water systems like Big Cypress Bayou, their decline followed river modifications and dam construction [for Lake O’ the Pines reservoir] which altered in-stream flows necessary for their survival.

18—The in-stream flows that are released from the Lake O’ the Pines reservoir are critical for maintaining habitat within the river, as well as for initiating spawning conditions paddlefish need to reproduce.

Kevin Mayes, an aquatic biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, says after years of study and restoring key features of the Big Cypress system, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Caddo Lake Institute, TPW and others, are returning this “big river” species to the ecosystem.

16—Part of that [work] was identifying that paddlefish require spring spawning pulses to support their reproduction So, we integrated those pulses into a flow regime that we call “in-stream flow building blocks” for the Big Cypress Creek.

This spring, researchers plan to release up to 50 radio-tagged paddlefish into the newly restored system, monitoring their movements, and making adjustments to flows based on the data.

The Wildlife and Sport fish Restoration Program supports our series. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.