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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2011-01-24                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than three years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov ] [LH]
Jan. 24, 2011
Possible State Record Spotted Bass Reported from Lake Alan Henry
ATHENS--Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) geneticist Dijar Lutz-Carrillo is conducting DNA analysis on a 5.62-pound bass caught from Lake Alan Henry January 15 to determine if it is a spotted bass.
If the tests are positive, the fish will become the new state record spotted bass, eclipsing the previous record of 5.56 pounds caught from Lake O' the Pines in 1966.
The fish was caught by Erik Atkins of Lubbock in a tournament and measured 22.75 inches in length and 15 inches in girth.
"I was fishing in three to five feet of water with a shaky-head worm, looking for a fish coming up to feed on the rocks," Atkins said. "I turned the reel two cranks and she took it."
TPWD stocked 150 adult spotted bass from Alabama in Lake Alan Henry in 1996. "These bass are native to the Mobile Bay drainage in Alabama and were stocked experimentally in Texas since their growth rate is similar to largemouth bass and they live longer than the spotted bass known as Kentucky bass (Micropterus punctulatus) native to the Ohio and central and lower Mississippi River valleys," said Charlie Munger, TPWD Inland Fisheries biologist for Lake Alan Henry. "Alan Henry has the only population of Alabama spotted bass (Micropterus henshalli) in the state."
Kentucky spotted bass are commonly found in East Texas streams. "Since there is no way for anglers to visually differentiate between the species of spotted bass, they are both considered to be simply spotted bass for record purposes," Munger said.
The lateral line on spotted bass is broken, and spots on their lower sides form rows of spots. The closed mouth of a spotted bass does not extend beyond the back margin of the eye. An identification guide can be found at http://archive.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/bkbass_diagrams.phtml.
Munger says a study of the spotted bass in Lake Alan Henry shows that there has been no hybridization of spotted bass with largemouth bass. "We detected no hybridization at all," he said.
Following a quarantine period the fish will be placed on display at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.
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[ Note: This item is more than three years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov ] [LH]
Jan. 24, 2011
Splash Returns to Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center
New display features former world record blue catfish
ATHENS--It's often said that fame is fleeting, but that does not apply to Splash, the former world record blue catfish caught from Lake Texoma January 16, 2004, by Cody Mullennix of Howe.
This week the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) unveiled a new Splash display featuring a full-size fiberglass replica of the fish and her complete skeleton, which was assembled and prepared for display by personnel at the University of Texas at Austin's Texas Natural History Collections at the J.J. Pickle Research Center.
Mullennix donated Splash to TFFC, where she remained on display and starred in the daily dive show until her untimely death in December 2005. Part of the display documents the cause of her death, an old injury, which was discovered during the reconstruction of her skeleton.
After her death, microscopic examination of the growth rings in her otoliths (ear bones) revealed that Splash was about 25 years old when she died.
At 121.5 pounds, she was the largest blue catfish ever caught to that time and held that record until a 124-pound fish was caught from the Mississippi River in 2005. Splash is still the Texas state record blue catfish.
Jessica Rosales, ichthyology collection manager at the Texas Natural History Collections, is proof of the old adage "Be careful what you wish for--you might get it."
"Having assisted in putting together a fish skeleton for another exhibit, I was itching to take on one of my own. And for some reason that I cannot now remember or fathom, I thought bigger would be better," Rosales said. "Enter Splash. Huge catfish = very excited ichthyology collection manager!"
Rosales and coworkers spent many hours preparing Splash for display. The first step was removing as much flesh as possible by use of scalpels and knives. Next the skeleton was placed in a closed container populated by 10,000 dermestid beetles, a kind of insect that is very good at removing all traces of flesh from bones.
Altogether, Rosales estimates, she spent 100 hours working on the project over a period of about a year as other duties permitted. "Once I got her skeleton back, some bones were still really greasy, and some still had flesh that the beetles didn't eat," she said. "I spent a few hours running the bones through ammonium hydroxide baths and attempting to remove the remaining flesh with forceps. After the bones were as clean as I could get them, it was time to put her back together."
After many painstaking hours with a hot glue gun and photos of Splash taken before the work began, Rosales had a skeleton ready for display. Only a few very small bones and fins are missing. The results of her remarkable skill and patience can now be seen in the new Splash exhibit at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.
During her brief residence at TFFC Splash increased visitation by 43 percent and attracted thousands of adoring fans who delighted in watching her delicately take chicken quarters or fish from the diver's hand during dive shows. More than 700 people attended a birthday party given in her honor on the anniversary of her arrival at TFFC. They enjoyed a life-size birthday cake decorated to resemble Splash, and 133 children brought hand-made birthday cards. "You are my idol," one said. Many others simply said, "I love you."
Splash is survived by thousands of descendants in Lake Texoma.
She is remembered by thousands more.
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is at 5550 F.M. 2495 in Athens, which is 75 miles southeast of Dallas. The center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5.50 for adults, $4.50 for seniors and $3.50 for children ages 4 through 12. For more information and directions call (903) 676-2277 or visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/tffc.
An album of photographs of Splash can be viewed at www.facebook.com/pages/texas-freshwater-fisheries-center/128462433868391.
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