T exans are blessed when it comes to freshwater angling opportunities.
We’ve got hundreds of public lakes and reservoirs that are second to none for bass, catfish and a host of other species. However, did you know that almost none of those fishing locales would be what they are today without human intervention? In fact, the only natural lake in the Lone Star State is Caddo in East Texas.
That’s correct, all these hot spots were manmade creations, most of them crafted in response to the occasional massive floods that arise from Texas’s normally tranquil rivers as a result of heavy rainfall. The state’s early history is littered with accounts of devastating floods, particularly along the Brazos River and Colorado River. As a result, in the early and middle portions of the 20th Century, state officials and conservation managers began constructing dams along major rivers to create flood control reservoirs that would alleviate floodwater damage and loss of life.
Thanks to that effort, we today have plenty of great fishing holes not far from major urban centers. In addition, those bodies of water have been greatly impacted by another manmade addition—regular fish stockings of multiple species.
The crown jewel of the hatchery and stocking efforts is the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s largemouth bass program, designed to enhance opportunities in both quantity and quality for our state’s number one freshwater angling target.
Texas’s bass fishing success rests almost solely on the efforts of fisheries biologists, who in the early 1970s began producing and stocking Florida largemouth fingerlings. Those fledgling efforts have amped up into mass production and TPWD annually stocks roughly 40 million fry and fingerlings of a variety of species across the state. That figure includes millions of Florida largemouths as the big bass craze has only continued to expand.
TPWD also has previously stocked ShareLunker offspring that were developed through the selective breeding program at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Those fish are the direct descendants of fish weighing 13 pounds or more, helping to spread good genetics that biologists ultimately hope will lead to the next state record.
The new record fish would need to eclipse the previous standard of 18.18 pounds set in 1992. That fish was caught on a live minnow by a crappie angler during the month of January.
Another great bass option deployed by TPWD are stripers and hybrid stripers, both of which do exceptionally well in many bodies of water that also hold white bass. Stripers and hybrids—a cross between a striper and a white bass—can be caught using a variety of lure and live bait techniques. Theywill school up during peak fishing times, making them a great target for youth anglers.
Among the other highlights of the annual stocking efforts by TPWD is the addition of rainbow trout in the winter and channel catfish in the spring to Neighborhood Fishing Lakes. These are bodies of water near urban areas set up as a great introduction to young anglers.
Texas’s hatchery program is supported by the Sport Fish Restoration Program, which is a partnership among anglers, boaters, the fishing and boating industry, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and TPWD. The program is supported by taxes on fishing equipment, electric motors, sonar and boat fuel. As a result, direct spending on the pursuit goes directly back into habitat restoration and conservation protections.
Next time you head to your local fishing hole, just remember that your angling efforts help support the thriving economy that is freshwater fishing in Texas.
Email Will Leschper at
Ducks Unlimited and Phillips 66 join forces for coastal restoration
• Phillips 66 and Ducks Unlimited are working together to restore coastal wetlands in Texas.
• With their latest gift of $75,000, Phillips 66 continues an annual commitment to conservation they started in 2013.
• Phillips 66 understands the same coastal wetlands that millions of migratory birds depend on each year, also provide protection for the energy industry’s infrastructure.
Ducks Unlimited and energy manufacturing and logistics company Phillips 66 reviewed the fruits of their combined coastal restoration efforts during a recent project tour. Phillips 66 also presented DU with $75,000 to continue restoring wetlands on public lands along the Texas Gulf Coast.
“Phillips 66 is truly committed to corporate responsibility,” DU Director of Development Matt Bunn said. “They have supported our restoration efforts in Texas for several years, providing important habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife and outdoor recreational opportunities for their employees and millions of others who visit these areas.”
Members of DU’s development and conservation staffs, along with Phillips 66 Director of Philanthropy and Community Engagement Claudia Kreisle and Supervisor of Philanthropy and Community Relations Ed Thayer, toured the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, examined shoreline protecting rock breakwaters and discussed potential projects for future restoration efforts.
“At Phillips 66, we understand the same coastal wetlands millions of migratory birds depend on each year provide protection for the energy industry’s infrastructure, produce much of the nation’s seafood and give people from all over the opportunity to enjoy some time outdoors with their families and friends,” Kreisle said.
The Gulf Coast wetlands of Texas and Louisiana comprise the continent’s most significant waterfowl wintering grounds and are a level one priority for Ducks Unlimited’s wetland conservation work. Through their support of the Gulf Coast Initiative, Phillips 66 is helping DU ensure that up to 15 million waterfowl will find a place to stay each winter.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13.6 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.
—by Andi Cooper