Archive for the 'Fishing' Category

Creel Surveys

Friday, July 28th, 2017
Creel Survey on Lake Conroe

Creel Survey on Lake Conroe

This is Passport to Texas

If you’re fishing on one of Texas many lakes, don’t be surprised if some friendly Texas Parks and Wildlife fisheries technicians greet you on the water.

Hi, I’m Mike, and this is Carl, and today we’re going to be doing a creel survey. [boat motor]

Mike Gore and Carl Vignali conduct creel surveys on Texas lakes. During a recent survey on Lake Conroe, they checked in with anglers regarding the length of time they’d been on the water, the fish they were targeting, as well as the number of fish they had caught.

[Mike] We’re just conducting an angler survey. [Carl] We’re with Parks and Wildlife. We’re doing some angler surveys. You mind answering some questions? [Mike] Our creels are four hours each. The sections of the lake and the time that the creels are done, are generated at random. We either go clockwise, or counter-clockwise that day. We do a flip of a coin to see which way we’re going to go—and that’s the way we go.

Mike and Carl continue going clockwise or counter clockwise per the coin flip decision for the remainder of the creel survey.

With all that data that we compile, we can come up with a management plan for the lake.

Including harvest regulations, size limits, and obtaining funding for boat ramps.

The sport fish restoration program supports our series, and provides funding for boat ramps in Texas.

That’s our show for today… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

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.

A New Way to Think About Trophy Fish

Thursday, June 15th, 2017
Female flathead, Photo by  Matt Williams

Female flathead, Photo by Matt Williams

This is Passport to Texas

The prevailing wisdom regarding trophy fish has been:

If we want to have trophy fish [in the future] we have to protect the trophy fish [in the present].

Fisheries biologist Kris Bodine says, as a rule, trophies aren’t easy to find, let alone catch.

And that’s the thing. They’re hard to come by. They’re hard to find, because they’re just rare in the population.

Someone tell that to hand fishers. They can consistently find (or catch) trophy-sized catfish. Concerned about the effect removing trophy fish might have on the population, researchers conducted a study of flathead cats on Lake Palestine, which revealed something unexpected.

It’s not the trophy animals that need protecting. It’s the animals that are going to produce the trophies. So, the young adults.

Bodine says we should protect these younger fish because not only are they more abundant than their big sisters and brothers, they also have more life left in them.

These big trophy fish—they’re old. More of them are dying of old age than are being caught by anglers. And I don’t care what fishing method we’re talking about. I mean, throwing them [trophies] back probably isn’t going to create more big fish. But throwing back the young adults would help your cause.

Find the rules of hand fishing on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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.

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.