Archive for the 'Freshwater' Category

Is Hand Fishing Bad for Fisheries?

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017
Big Blue Cat, Lake Tawakoni. Image: Capt. Michael Littlejohn.

Big blue cat caught conventionally in Lake Tawakoni. Image: Capt. Michael Littlejohn.

This is Passport to Texas

Hand fishers locate catfish nesting sites along river banks, reach in until a fish latches onto their arm, and then remove both arm and fish from the water.

This is historically a controversial fishing method. First off, we’re taking fish off of active nests, and some people don’t like that. And, historically it’s been illegal.

Legal in Texas since 2011, hand fishers only make up about one percent of all anglers. Fisheries biologist, Kris Bodine says hand fishers regularly harvest trophy fish. The belief has been that their harvest of trophy fish is detrimental to the population.

And if we want to have trophy fish, we have to protect the trophy fish [by catch and release], and since hand fishers are catching [harvesting] trophy fish, everybody viewed them as a problem.

Thus prompting a study at Lake Palestine. After analyzing results from the study, it turns out harvest was low; very low.

For flatheads, which hand fishers tend to target, we were looking at around 3-4% [harvest rate]. And we were finding that the populations [in Lake Palestine] could withstand two or three maybe four times that, before any kind of problem started existing.

This was a revelation. So if trophy cats don’t need our protection, which ones do? That’s tomorrow.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

Noodling: Hands on Fishing

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017
Catching big cats by hand. Image: http://archive.gosanangelo.com/

Catching big cats by hand. Image: http://archive.gosanangelo.com/

This is Passport to Texas

Hand fishing, commonly called noodling, became legal in Texas in 2011.

What they do is they find holes that are typically on the bank, or in structure timber, what have you. And, fishermen will search around in the water blindly, feeling in holes until they find these fish, and then they’ll pull them out with their hands.

Fisheries biologist Kris Bodine says far from being a fringe activity, this technique is quite old.

Before we had fishing poles, it was a way folks fished. They were just grabbing fish for food.

Hand fishers are more efficient at catching trophy-sized fish using this technique.

Big fish of any species—I don’t care whether it’s catfish, or bass or what have you—they’re hard to find. And, so, this particular technique has offered folks a chance to catch more big fish than they would at any other time, because they’re really concentrated in these areas.

What impact does removing so many big fish have on the overall catfish population?

There’s a perception among anglers and among fisheries biologists that high harvest of trophy fish is majorly detrimental to the catfish population.

Researchers conducted a study of hand fishers, with eye-opening results. Details tomorrow.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series and is funded by your purchase of fishing equipment and motorboat fuel.

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

The Lives and Loves of Frogs

Monday, June 5th, 2017
Houston Toad singing a song for the ladies.

Houston Toad singing a song for the ladies.

This is Passport to Texas

Amphibians are a remarkably unique life form.

Texas State University Biologist Dr. Mike Forstner says in case you ever wondered how amphibians, romance one another, he can help.

Amphibian or amphibios is a two-stage life. Those dual lives reflect water and land. When we think about the mating process or the management of the toad we have to take both in account the water and the land. All frogs and toads call. They make a unique advertisement call.

You have probably heard male leopard frogs and bullfrogs advertising their interest in meeting members of the opposite sex without even realizing it. And if you were to find yourself in Central Texas, traveling through Bastrop…

… further into the forest in Bastrop, we begin to hear a high-pitched trills that lasts a long time, up to 15 seconds for the Houston toad.

Those calls allow the females to recognize the correct male for their species, and since the fire, we are beginning to hear a few more of these calls.

And the females will hop toward the male call that they think is the most attractive. So there is female choice- not very different from what happened in the human world.

Find more information about amphibians 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.

2017 Free Fishing Day in Texas

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017
Fishing is fun for the entire family.

Fishing is fun for the entire family.


This is Passport to Texas

During National Fishing and Boating Week, most states offer free fishing days. These are days where anglers are allowed to fish on public bodies of water without a fishing license. Anyone who wishes to cast a line in fresh or saltwater may do so…freely.

This year free fishing day in Texas is June 3rd.

Every day is Free Fishing Day at Texas state parks that have fishing opportunities. Once you pay the park entrance fee, you and yours can fish to your heart’s content—while following bag limits and other regulations.

If you’re not currently an angler, but want to give it a try, some parks have tackle loaner programs. Borrow the tackle to use at the park, but bring your own bait. For very little investment, you can sample a sport that gets you outdoors and has the potential of putting food on the table.

On June 3rd in East Texas, the Texas freshwater Fisheries Center offers a day of free fishing, hot dogs, soft drinks and games. Other parks throughout the state offer Go Fish events and Kids fishing derbies on June 3rd, for a day of outdoor fun with family and friends.

Log onto the calendar page of the Texas Parks and Wildlife website for more angling opportunities.

We receive support for our program from the Sport Fish restoration Program… reminding you that Saturday June 3rd is Free Fishing Day in Texas.

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

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.