LAKE AUSTIN WAS ONCE considered to be one of the top trophy bass fishing destinations in the nation. Unfortunately, it has undergone a decline in natural fish habitat in recent years because of efforts to control nuisance aquatic vegetation.
Without plentiful habitat it can be a challenge for anglers to target sport fish that seek cover in vegetation, such as largemouth bass.
An effort to restore balance to the reservoir and provide the habitat that sport fish need to thrive began on September 25. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) fisheries biologists and volunteers from the Texas Tournament Zone Friends of Reservoirs (FOR) chapter began to supplement fish habitat with artificial fish attractors.
“Until natural aquatic vegetation becomes established again in Lake Austin, these fish habitat structures will provide target areas for anglers to improve their chances of catching fish,” said Marcos De Jesus, TPWD Inland Fisheries District Supervisor for San Marcos-Austin.
The fish habitat structures sunk at 13 sites on Tuesday include artificial Mossback trophy trees, which were secured by custom heavy anchors and marked with buoys and GPS coordinates. These long-lasting, environmentally friendly structures are made from PVC and composite materials. They attract concentrations of sport fish by providing cover and food for prey fish in the small spaces between the branches.
|174||3/12/94||Jon Pfluger||Austin, TX||13.67||26.25|
|205||2/27/95||Gaylon Aylieff||Austin, TX||14.35||27|
|314||3/24/00||Ronny Maynard||Georgetown, TX||13.27||26.5|
|332||3/15/02||Gary L. Phipps||Austin, TX||14.06||28|
|350||3/19/03||James Swoda||Jarrell, TX||13.29||26.5|
|382||3/12/05||Dwayne Kinley||Austin, TX||13.07||26.25|
|428||2/18/07||David Reinarz||Austin, TX||13.00||25.75|
|481||2/27/10||Carl Adkins||San Marcos, TX||13.10||25|
|501||4/11/10||Jim McDaniel||Cedar Park, TX||13.01||26.5|
|508||1/27/11||T. J. Nissen||Austin, TX||16.03||28.25|
|514||2/25/11||Billy Weems||Liberty Hill, TX||13.21||25.75|
|515||2/26/11||Cody Erin Smith||New Braunfels, TX||14.28||26.5|
|526||1/29/12||Brett Ketchum||Austin, TX||13.00||25.75|
|527||2/11/12||Wesley Hayden||Round Rock, TX||13.22||26|
|528||2/14/12||Landon Glass||Jarrell, TX||13.03||25.75|
|533||3/21/12||Corey Johnson||Cedar Park, TX||13.18||26.5|
|534||3/21/12||Charles Whited||San Marcos, TX||13.59||26.13|
|537||10/16/12||Bennett Cowan||San Marcos, TX||14.28||27.25|
|548||3/27/13||Colin Pack||Round Rock, TX||13.29||26.75|
|555||2/21/14||Robert Whitehead||Austin, TX||13.19||27.28|
This habitat complements a project conducted by TPWD fisheries biologists and partners in April, which included the sinking of 50 concrete pillars near the dam at Lake Austin. The heavy five by three-foot pillars, originally used as Camp Swift barrack foundations, create an artificial reef environment that will withstand currents during flood events.
“Habitat structures need heavy anchoring to withstand strong water current during flood pulses in this riverine system,” De Jesus said. “The heavy concrete pillars and the anchored artificial fish attractors that we placed this year should provide anglers with high quality fishing opportunities for many years to come. Anglers who want to target these locations can find GPS coordinates on our Locations of Fish Attractors webpage.”
The artificial fish structure project was funded in part by a $20,000 grant from the Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership/FOR and matching dollars from Bass Pro Shops in Round Rock and proceeds from sales of TPWD’s Largemouth Bass Conservation License Plate.
Lake Austin, considered the eighth most popular trophy bass destination in the nation by B.A.S.S. in 2014, is also home to the 24th largest bass ever caught in Texas on the statewide list of Top 50 largemouth bass. Additionally, the lake is home to good quality bluegill, redbreast, and redear fishing, and has low-density populations of flathead and blue catfish.
Lake Austin is classified as infested with zebra mussels. Anglers are reminded to clean, drain and dry boats, trailers, livewells/bait buckets, and other gear before traveling to another water body. Draining water is required by law and possession and transport of zebra mussels is illegal.
—TFG Staff Report
TF&G Editor In Chief Chester Moore’s Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center® is partnering with Hurricane Pro Wrestling for a special event Sat. Dec. 22 at the Beaumont Civic Center.
“We have started a program called World Wildlife Champions where kids in our Wild Wishes program and other parts of our ministry are gathering change to help endangered wildlife. We have issued them a challenge to raise $1,000 by Dec. 22 to give to the Amos Research Keep (ARK) that does sea turtle rescue and rehab in Port Aransas and the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo’s raptor work in Israel,” Moore said.
“If they meet this goal they will be presented a special World Wildlife Champions belt by wrestlers in the ring that they can then take to events and raise awareness and funds for wildlife conservation.”
In addition a portion of proceeds from the event will go to benefit Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center’s programs.
“I’m a huge wrestling fan and Hurricane Pro Wrestling is awesome. We can’t wait for the kids to rise to the challenge and do great things for wildlife and get recognized in the ring,” Moore said.
In addition all kids who participate in the program will get a digital subscription to Texas Fish & Game.
For more info on the event go to hurricanepro.info.
—TFG Staff Report