From Staff Reports
ATHENS — Widespread rains in May and June did more than end the drought and raise lakes to levels not seen in years.
Also, many lakes that had been scheduled for stocking, contingent on significant spring rains, could be stocked to take advantage of improved habitat.
Fortunately, TPWD freshwater fish hatcheries had a better-than-expected production year for such popular species as Florida largemouth bass, blue catfish, striped bass and palmetto bass (hybrid striped bass), making more fish available.
TPWD has five inland fish hatcheries, with one currently closed because of water supply problems caused by drought. In 2015, TPWD hatcheries produced and stocked almost 500,000 channel catfish fingerlings; 800,000 blue catfish fingerlings; 4.8 million striped bass and hybrid striped bass fingerlings and 4.7 million fry; 157,000 Guadalupe bass fingerlings; 55,000 smallmouth bass fingerlings; 129,000 bluegill fingerlings and 7.5 million largemouth bass fingerlings.
The good news doesn’t stop there. Spring rains brought many reservoirs to levels not seen in several years, so the hatchery fish were stocked into great habitat. When reservoir levels go down for several years, vegetation grows up in the dry lake bottom. When levels rise, the flooded vegetation gives little fish a place to hide from predators and, as it decays, releases nutrients into the water that jumpstart the food chain.
Water level rises came to many lakes in time for spawns from resident fish to enjoy good habitat conditions, adding to the bounty. Those rises benefit all species of fish, which means that fishing should see significant improvement in the next several years, and predator species like bass, striped bass and hybrid striped bass will have plenty to eat and grow quickly.
Information on where and how many fish were stocked can be found athttp://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/management/stocking/.
If you have questions about a particular lake, contact information for biologists in charge of each public reservoir managed by TPWD can be found at http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/management/biologist/.