Lake Fork - 2011 Survey Report
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Prepared by Kevin W. Storey
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-B, Tyler, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 36-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Fish populations in Lake Fork Reservoir were surveyed in 2011 and 2012 using electrofishing. Anglers were surveyed with an access point creel survey. Vegetation and habitat surveys were not conducted during the review period because of record-low reservoir water elevations. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Lake Fork Reservoir is a 27,264-acre impoundment located on Lake Fork Creek, a tributary of the Sabine River, approximately five miles northwest of Quitman, Texas and approximately 70 miles east of Dallas, Texas.
Important sport fishes include largemouth bass, crappie (white and black), and channel catfish. The management plan from the 2010 survey report included continued stocking of Florida largemouth bass (FLMB). The 16- to 24-inch slot-length limit continues to be evaluated through annual electrofishing surveys, an access creel survey, and the Lake Fork Trophy Bass Survey. Water hyacinth abundance and distribution has been monitored in the past through annual vegetation surveys although low reservoir water elevations in 2011 made this impractical.
- Prey species: Abundant shad (threadfin and gizzard) and moderate sunfish populations provided the basis for prey populations for largemouth bass and crappie. The majority of shad species were available as prey for adult largemouth bass. The majority of bluegill collected in 2011 were less than five inches in length, a suitable prey size for most size classes of largemouth bass.
- Catfishes: Catfish accounted for 4- 5% of total angler effort. Channel catfish were the only species encountered in sampling although flathead catfish, blue catfish, and yellow bullheads are also present. Total catch per hour in the creel survey was consistent from 2010-2011 (1.91/h) to 2011-2012 (1.98/h) and harvest rate increased from 0.79/h to 1.36/h during the two most recent survey years. The majority of channel catfish collected in gill nets were greater than 12 inches in length.
- Temperate basses: White bass, yellow bass, white x yellow bass hybrids, and palmetto bass were all present in the reservoir. According to anglers, the white bass population has become more abundant. Creel and gill net surveys also indicated evidence of increased abundance. Harvest of yellow bass was also observed during creel surveys.
- Largemouth bass: Largemouth bass are the most popular game fish in Lake Fork, accounting for between 73% and 81% of total angler effort in the last two survey years. Relative proportions of size groups remained consistent in fall and spring samples. Angler catch rate in 2010-2011 (0.91/h) was highest of any year in the review, declined in the following year (0.59/h) but remained higher than the range of 0.40-0.45/h observed in most years.
- Crappie:Directed angler effort for crappie was second in importance and accounted for between 11% and 18% of total directed effort in the last two survey years. Black crappie accounted for an average of 80% of all harvested crappie observed between June 2010 and May 2012.
Annual actions include: stocking FLMB, spring and fall electrofishing for largemouth bass population assessment, an access point creel survey to monitor angler effort, and angler catch and harvest rates, annual vegetation surveys of water hyacinth and distribution, and promotion of the Lake Fork Trophy Bass Survey. In addition, the water hyacinth management plan will be used to guide treatment activities.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-221-M-2 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program