Lake Athens - 2009 Survey Report
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Prepared by Dan Bennett and Richard A. Ott, Jr.
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-C, Tyler, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 21-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
The Lake Athens fish community was surveyed from June 2009 through May 2010 using electrofishing and gill netting. A vegetation survey was conducted in July 2009. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Lake Athens is a 1,799-acre reservoir on Flat Creek, a tributary of the Neches River, Texas, built to provide water for municipal and industrial purposes. Boat access is adequate, but public bank angling access is limited to the marina area, and parking at bridge crossings is limited. There are no handicap-specific facilities but the convenience pier at the marina allows limited wheelchair use. The reservoir contains a diverse aquatic plant community.
Important sport fish include sunfishes, largemouth bass, white bass, channel catfish, and black crappie. The length limit for largemouth bass was changed in 1996 from the statewide 14-inch minimum length to a 14- to 21-inch slot-length limit. Monitoring of the largemouth bass growth rate has continued. Boat access and angling access are available and improvements have been recommended, but not implemented. Invasive aquatic plant species, hydrilla, water hyacinth, and alligatorweed are present in the system and are under management by the controlling authority.
- Prey species: Threadfin shad continue to be present in the reservoir. Electrofishing catch rate of gizzard shad remained low, and few gizzard shad were available as prey to most sport fish. Despite low shad catch rates, sunfish (≤4 inches) catch rates were adequate to provide forage for sport fishes.
- Catfishes: Channel catfish gill net catch rates were lower than in previous surveys. A declining trend in catch rates may indicate limited production in recent years.
- Temperate basses: White bass were present in the reservoir, although gill net catch rates have declined.
- Largemouth bass: Size distribution of largemouth bass indicates a balanced population, and size structure has improved over previous surveys. Growth rates of fish within the protected slot-limit are still slow. The percentage of Florida largemouth bass alleles has increased since 2003, yet no pure Florida Bass were collected.
- Crappie:White crappie and black crappie have been collected in the reservoir in the past. Sampling for these species was not conducted in 2009 due to historically low sampling efficiency.
Largemouth bass are of high importance in this system, therefore, additional monitoring of their growth rates and size distribution will be conducted in fall of 2011. The sampling will also provide fish for microsatellite DNA analysis. Channel catfish recruitment and population structure will continue to be monitored in 2014.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-30-R-35 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program