Amon G. Carter Reservoir - 2004 Survey Report
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Prepared by Bruce Hysmith and John H. Moczygemba
Inland Fisheries Division
District 2-A, Pottsboro, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 31-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Amon G. Carter Reservoir was surveyed with creel surveys in 2002 and 2003, in 2004 using trap nets and electrofisher, and in 2005 using gill nets. This report summarizes the results of these surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir.
Amon G. Carter Reservoir, a 1,540-acre impoundment on Big Sandy Creek, was constructed in 1956 by the City of Bowie and is located 8 miles southwest of Bowie. In 1985 the reservoir was enlarged to 1,848 acres by adding a 308-acre portion downstream of the existing dam. The reservoir has a drainage area of approximately 111 square miles, a shoreline length of 22.5 miles, and a shoreline development index of 4.9. Principal tributaries are Trail, Briar, Cowskin, and Kiel Creeks and McFall Branch. Water depth less than 15 feet accounts for approximately 55% of the reservoir. Average annual rainfall is 30 inches. The reservoir is used as a water supply for the City of Bowie.
There are two public boat ramps with boat boarding piers. A fishing pier is located at Selma Park, the only public park on the reservoir. The pier at Selma Park and shoreline areas at both public areas, while not designed for physically challenged persons, are accessible to the physically challenged. Fish habitat consists of flooded boulders/rocks/stumps, emergent aquatic vegetation, and flooded standing timber. There was < 0.1 acre of hydrilla located near the Big Sandy Camp boat ramp.
- Prey species: Electrofishing catch rates of gizzard shad (709.0/hour) and bluegill (537.0/hour) rebounded in 2004 from low estimates in 2000 (111.0/hour and 172.0/hour). Catch rates for both prey species are the highest on record since 1998 and higher than the historic averages (355.5/hour for gizzard shad and 252.3/hour for bluegill). Historic averages were based on five surveys from 1992 through 2004. Increases in numbers occurred mostly in 3- and 4-inch classes, which provide excellent forage for predator species. The Index of Vulnerability (IOV) for gizzard shad was 88, an increase from 50 in 2000. The catch rate of other prey species also increased from 2000; threadfin shad increased from 125.0/hour to 219.0/hour; green sunfish increased from 31.0/hour to 102.0/hour; and longear sunfish increased from 44.0/hour to 242.0/hour.
- Channel catfish: The gill net catch rate of channel catfish in 2005 was 2.8/net night, up from 2.2/net night in 1998, but below the historic average of 6.5/net for this reservoir. The historic average for gill netting was based on five surveys from 1992 through 2005. The average relative weight was 90. An estimated 36% of the channel catfish sample population was > 12 inches total length. According to creel survey results, there was an estimated 16,129 angler-hours fished the fall (2002) quarter and 26,235 angler-hours fished the spring (2003) quarter. Directed effort for channel catfish in the fall was 9.1% and 10.8% in the spring. Angler catch rate in the fall was 0.6 catfish/angling-hour and 0.2 catfish/angling-hour in the spring.
- White bass: The gill net catch rate of white bass was 5.6/net night, higher than 0.0/net night 2001 and higher than the historic average of 2.0/net night. White bass were not found in this reservoir until sometime between 1992 and 1995 when they were introduced by an angler. Although present in low numbers and discounting their absence in the 2001 survey, there have been white bass > 10 inches in this reservoir since 1995. The average relative weight was 85. Creel survey results showed 1.4% directed angler effort for white bass in the fall of 2002 and none in the spring of 2003. The angler catch rate in the fall of 2002 was 0.6 white bass/angler-hour. Directed angling effort and non-directed angling effort accounted for white bass harvest in both quarters. Apparently white bass have established in the reservoir and they were providing angling recreation.
- Largemouth bass: The total electrofishing catch rate of largemouth bass (149.0/hour) in 2004 showed much improvement over the 2000 and 2002 surveys (36.0/hour and 54.0/hour) and exceeded the historic average of 111.0/hour. Historic averages were based on six surveys from 1992 through 2004. However, there remains a paucity of big largemouth bass (> 18 inches). For example, the highest CPUE on record (184.0/hour) occurred in 1995 and was accompanied by a stock CPUE of 142.7/hour indicating 78% of the sample population was > 8 inches. The 1995 sampling indicated 17% of the sample population was > 14 inches and included largemouth bass in inch groups 14 through 24. In 2004, electrofishing indicated a stock CPUE of 46.0/hour and only 5% of the sample population was > 14 inches. Between 1995 and 2004, the reservoir was sampled three times; in 1998, 2000, and 2002. The largemouth bass population showed a continued decline in numbers and quality through 2002, but largemouth bass > 20 inches were collected. An increase in abundance was noted in 2004, but mostly in fish < 14 inches. Largemouth bass appeared healthy with an average relative weight of 89. There was concern the current population was dominated by sub-legal largemouth bass with very little recruitment into larger inch classes, a condition that started developing in 1998. In 2000 the entire largemouth bass population appeared suppressed and remained suppressed through 2002. According to creel survey results largemouth bass was the most sought-after species by anglers during the fall of 2002 and spring of 2003. There was 55.0% directed angling effort for largemouth bass in the fall and 40.0% directed effort in the spring with similar catch rates of 0.6 and 0.5 largemouth bass/angling-hour. In the spring of 2003, 36% of the parties interviewed were fishing in a tournament. The angler harvest rate was 0.03 in the fall and 0.12 in the spring and despite the apparent scarcity of largemouth bass > 14 inches in samples since 1998, anglers harvested an estimated 1,011 largemouth bass between 14 and 24 inches in the spring of 2003. This amounted to 70% of the total number of legal-size largemouth bass caught in the spring of 2003. A total of 4,562 largemouth bass were caught during this same time period. Of this total, 1,454 were > 14 inches. During the 9-day spring creel survey, creel clerks observed 76 of the 80 largemouth bass harvested by directed anglers were caught by live-release tournament anglers. This high tournament-caught bass:harvest ratio (19:1) suggests overharvest may be a major cause of the decline in largemouth bass > 14 inches in this reservoir. Allen et al. (2004) developed an age-structure simulation model which predicted when the tournament-catch:harvest ratio exceeds 3.0, tournament–associated mortality rates of 20-30% could cause 5-12% declines in the abundance of largemouth bass greater than 12 inches. Based on electrophoretic analysis of liver tissue from 30 age-0 largemouth bass collected in the fall of 2004, the sample population is now represented genetically by 56.7% Florida largemouth bass alleles and 10.0% pure Florida largemouth bass. The reservoir record largemouth bass was 14.44 pounds and 26.5 inches.
- Crappies: The trap net catch rate of white crappie was 14.4/net night, double the 7.0/net night in 2000, and above the historic average of 10.2/net night for this reservoir. The average relative weight was 94. An estimated 44% of the white crappie sample population was > 10 inches. The reservoir record white crappie was 2.06 pounds and 14.25 inches. Black crappie were also found in the reservoir, but trap net catch rates have been low. They were first collected in 1995 (0.5/net night). The greatest abundance was recorded in 2000 (2.8/net night). Creel survey results indicated crappies were the second-most sought after species. Directed angler effort during the fall of 2002 was 13.5% with a catch rate of 6.5 crappie/angler-hour. Directed angler effort during the spring of 2003 was 28.5% with a catch rate of 1.6 crappie/angler-hour. Harvest rate was similar; 0.52 crappie/angling-hour in the fall and 0.41 crappie/angling-hour in the spring.
Based on current information, the largemouth bass fishery should be protected with a more restrictive regulation, but we have insufficient information to justify a new regulation. We have demonstrated poor recruitment to > 14 inches, but age and growth is based on historic data. It would also be beneficial to have results from a current creel survey with ad hoc question(s) regarding various regulation options. Basic attitudes and opinions could be obtained with a scoping meeting held in Bowie. Once we have acceptable age and growth data, angler catch and harvest rates, and angler input, an appropriate harvest regulation can be identified. Other species continue to produce good angling opportunities and should be managed with existing regulations.
Florida largemouth bass have established above the standard criteria and have persisted with minimal supplemental stocking over the past 19 years. Therefore, no stocking of Florida largemouth bass is recommended. Electrofishing in 2002 confirmed results of our 2000 electrofishing survey which indicated declining largemouth bass > 14 inches. Hydrilla, first discovered in the reservoir in 1995 was confined to the area around the Big Sandy Camp boat ramp off SH1125, but spread of this aquatic vegetation should be monitored. Finally, we recommend updating the (lake) page on the TPWD web site with appropriate information as needed.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-30-R-30 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program