Lake Arrowhead - 2003 Survey Report
For assistance with accessibility on any TPWD documents, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Prepared by Mark Howell and Robert Mauk
Inland Fisheries Division
District 2-E, Wichita Falls, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 27-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Arrowhead Reservoir was surveyed in 2003-04 using an electrofisher, gill and trap nets. A physical habitat and six-month creel surveys were also conducted. All electrofishing and netting surveys were conducted using random sites. The 2003-04 CPUE for species in this summary are compared with the Arrowhead species average CPUE collected during 1996-2000. This report summarizes the most recent surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on their results.
Arrowhead Reservoir is located in Archer and Clay counties on the Little Wichita River, a tributary of the Wichita River. The dam is located in Clay County and the reservoir is owned and operated by the City of Wichita Falls as a municipal and industrial water supply. At spillway level, it covers 14,390 surface acres with a shoreline length of 106 miles and a drainage basin of 832 square miles. Boat access is normally good at the six improved public ramp sites. Public access includes 524-acre Lake Arrowhead State Park, located on the northwest side near the dam. Bank access is adequate, but the only improved handicapped access is at the state park. Some standing timber remains, especially in the upper end and backs of coves. Water transparency has increased from previous years as a result of low rainfall with little storm water runoff. During January 2004 the state park boat ramps became unusable and were closed when the reservoir elevation dropped to 10 feet below spillway level and they remain closed at the present time. The only open boat ramp as of July 2004 is at West Arrowhead Park.
- Prey species: Gizzard shad and bluegill 2003 electrofishing CPUE rates were 468.0 and 36.0 per hour, respectively. These rates were nearly double the previous survey in 1999. The rate for gizzard shad was well above the reservoir average for the period 1996-2000. No threadfin shad were sampled by electrofishing. However, three individuals were sampled while trap netting indicating their continued presence. The catch rate for bluegill in 2003 was below the historical average of 74.8 per hour. However, the abundance and size ranges of the prey species sampled are still considered excellent for maintaining current sportfish populations. The index of vulnerability (IOV) from DiCenzo et al. (1996) remained high in 2003 for gizzard shad at 99 on a scale of 100. Gizzard shad are the most important prey species.
- Catfishes: The 2004 blue catfish gill net catch rate of 8.9/net night was nearly double the previous 1999 survey of 4.4/net night and remained well above the historical average of 3.1/net night. Size structure has continued to develop resulting in increased numbers of larger fish for anglers. The creel survey data show a dramatic increase in blue catfish harvest from 10 in December 1998 – May 99 to 75 observed over the same period in 2003-04. Most of these were larger fish from 17-22 inches compared to 12-16 inches during the previous creel period. The current reservoir record for blue catfish is 38.0 pounds. The channel catfish gill net CPUE rate in 2004 was only 0.3/net night. This was well below the reservoir average for the previous four surveys of 1.5/net night. The channel catfish population has appeared to decline as the blue catfish population has increased. The number harvested by anglers declined by nearly half from the previous creel survey. Channel catfish have decreased from numerically being the second most harvested species at Arrowhead to the fourth most harvested behind white crappie, white bass and blue catfish, respectively based on angler harvest observed during the 2003-04 creel survey.
- White bass: The 2004 white bass gill net CPUE rate increased to 17.9/net night compared to 10.1/net night in 1999 and the previous four year survey average of 12.9/net night. The Arrowhead catch rate was nearly triple the district average of 6.2/net night. Natural reproduction remained more than adequate to maintain this population with good year classes produced in both 2002 and 2003. The reservoir has developed a well deserved reputation for excellent white bass fishing during the last several years. Based on the 2003-2004 creel survey results, white bass became numerically the second most harvested species with most exceeding 12 inches in length.
- Largemouth bass: The largemouth bass electrofishing catch rate of 16.5/hour in 2003 represented a continued decline from the previous 1999 survey of 25.0/hour, 57.5/hour in 1998 and the previous four survey average of 40.5/hour. Much of the drop in catch rate can be attributed to poor spawning conditions in both 2002 and 2003, with few individuals from these year classes in the sample. The poor spawns can be attributed to a loss of littoral spawning and nursery habitat because of greatly decreased water levels (Appendix D). The reservoir remained low in 2004 and a supplemental stocking of largemouth bass fingerlings should be considered in 2005 if reservoir levels rise significantly and inundate terrestrial vegetation. A Florida bass stocking occurred in 2001, with this year class numerically exceeding the 2002 year class in the 2003 sample indicating at least some success. There was also a relatively high proportion (52.3%) of Florida bass genetics in the 2003 sample.
- White crappie: The white crappie fishery at Arrowhead continued to be a good one in terms of legal size fish and angler harvest. The white crappie growth rate remained at or above the ecological region average. Directed angler effort for crappie decreased by about half for the December 2003 – May 2004 creel survey compared to the same period in 1998 - 99. Correspondingly, the number harvested decreased by slightly less than half, but showed improved size structure in the harvest with many more crappie between 12 and 14 inches observed. Much of this decrease in effort can be attributed to limited access during the spawning season. Only one single lane ramp was open during 2004 and it can be inconvenient to use. As a result, crappie anglers did not make as many fishing trips. However, crappie easily remained the most popular species based on the amount of directed angler effort and the number of fish harvested, with 63% of targeted fishing effort being devoted to white crappie.
Based on recent information, this reservoir should continue to be managed with current regulations. Most sport fish populations appeared to have remained stable or improved since the last survey. Efforts to increase angling activity through fish attractor maintenance, news releases, and public fishing events should continue. A 2005 largemouth bass fingerling stocking should be considered if habitat conditions improve.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-30-R-29 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program