Archive for the 'Freshwater' Category

Preventing the Spread of Zebra Mussels

Thursday, July 6th, 2017
Places where invasive zebra mussels hitch a ride.

Places where invasive zebra mussels hitch a ride.

This is Passport to Texas

Last month we discovered zebra mussels in Canyon Lake.

Every time you get a new infestation it’s discouraging – it just really is. It just gets you down. And it’s frustrating, because you know that if boaters and people who we know care about the lakes and rivers in this state, if they would just take some time, and be a little careful and make sure that they just clean, drain and dry their boat before they leave the lake every single time, that will go a long time towards preventing their spread.

Fisheries biologist Brian Van Zee says zebra mussels can clog public water intakes, and damage boats and motors left in infested waters.

You know, if boats are stored on the water in the marina, those are the ones where we’re going to have colonies of adult zebra mussels attached to them. Those are the ones that boat owners need to take the time to have that boat fully cleaned and decontaminated; have it inspected by Parks and Wildlife before you go ahead and move it to a different lake.

Once in a river basin, zebra mussels are there to stay.

But, what we can do is we can prevent them from being spread to a new river basin. If we can get the word out to these boat owners and public and transporters in the state, and let them know we’re trying to stop this spread, and prevent new infestations within new river basins – then we have a chance.

Find procedures to clean, drain and dry your boat on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

Nonnative Zebra Mussels Found in Canyon Lake

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017
Zebra mussels can clog water pipes, cooling intakes on boat motors, and almost anything else left in the water in infested lakes. Image by Larry D. Hodge

Zebra mussels can clog water pipes, cooling intakes on boat motors, and almost anything else left in the water in infested lakes. Image by Larry D. Hodge

This is Passport to Texas

Zebra mussels have high reproductive capabilities.

And then they also have the capability of attaching themselves to pretty much any hard substrate or surface found within the waterbodies.

Nonnative zebra mussels can have serious economic, environmental and recreational impacts. Biologist Brian Van Zee says 10 Texas Lakes are fully infested and another five are positive.

The ones that are listed ‘infested’ mean that they actually have a viable breeding population within the lakes. The lakes that are ‘positive’ are lakes where we have documented zebra mussels or their larvae on more than one occasion. So, we know they’re present, but we may not have been able to fully verify whether or not they’re reproducing.

Zebra mussels can clog public water intakes, and damage boats and motors left in infested waters. In June, they were discovered in Canyon Lake.

We know that the zebra mussels in canyon lake are a result of a contaminated boat that was brought and launched on the lake at some point in time. The other way the zebra mussels will spread and move in Texas is simply through their downstream movement of larvae. If you get a lake or a reservoir that’s on the upper portion of a river basin that becomes infested then, as water flows from those lakes and moves downstream, they will carry the larvae with them.

We can prevent the spread of zebra mussels when we clean, drain and dry our boats before leaving infested waters. More on that tomorrow.

The Wildlife and sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

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.