Austin—Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is partnering with Texas Tournament Zone (TTZ) and the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department and Watershed Protection to install fish habitat structures assembled out of brush into Lake Austin on June 7, 2015. Activities will be based out of Emma Long Park starting at 8:30 am.
TTZ, a Friends of Reservoirs chapter member, has led fundraising efforts and volunteer recruitment to help restore fish habitat recently denuded in the lake. Ashe juniper (mountain cedar) tree cuttings will be bundled and sunk at strategic fishing hotspots throughout the lake. TPWD district fisheries supervisor Marcos De Jesús said, “These brushpile structures will serve as fish habitat and will attract cover-seeking game fish like bass where anglers can target them for increased success. “
Lake Austin has been one of the most popular trophy largemouth bass destinations in Texas, listed eighth in the nation by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) in 2014. Recent extreme drought conditions led to the excessive propagation of hydrilla, causing operational concerns at Lake Austin. A more-aggressive aquatic vegetation control response led to the diminishing of aquatic vegetation within the lake.
“Unfortunately the aquatic vegetation community has been impacted beyond our expectations. Right now we are committed to restoring the balance that has made this lake so special over the years,” said De Jesús. “Aquatic vegetation is essential for a healthy bass fishery in Lake Austin.”
TPWD and its partners are working together towards this balance to make sure all stakeholder interests are met. City of Austin Watershed Protection limnologist, Brent Bellinger, Ph.D., said, “Aquatic vegetation plays an important role in water quality, food webs and sediment stabilization. Keeping a balance of aquatic vegetation is a key to a healthy system.”
One of the most popular activities at the lake is recreational fishing, which generates important economic revenue for the area. John Ward of TTZ said, “Bass fishing at Lake Austin attracts anglers from all over the state. Anglers come to Lake Austin looking for the fish of a lifetime, and we want to ensure that the lake sustains the quality fishing opportunities it has offered for years.”
Fish habitat site GPS coordinates will be made publicly available through the TPWD website. Any person or group wanting to participate in these types of reservoir habitat restoration projects on local lakes is encouraged to become a member of Friends of Reservoirs. See www.waterhabitatlife.org for details or contact your local district fisheries management office.
For more information on TPWD fishing programs, visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/.