Lake Houston - 2006 Survey Report
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Prepared by Mark Webb and Jeff Henson
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-E, Bryan, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 28-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Fish populations in Lake Houston were surveyed in 2006 using electrofishing and in 2007 using gill nets. Anglers were surveyed from June 2005 to May 2006 with a roving creel survey. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Lake Houston is a 12,240-acre reservoir constructed on the San Jacinto River by the City of Houston in 1954 to provide water for municipal and industrial purposes. Its location within the Houston metropolitan area results in heavy recreational use.
All sport fisheries at Lake Houston are regulated under statewide length and bag limits. For a number of years palmetto bass were stocked annually, but it became evident that those stockings were ineffective at establishing a fishery, and the stockings were discontinued in 1999. Poor quality shallow-water habitat has impeded the expansion of many sport fish species, particularly largemouth bass. A combination of shoreline bulkhead construction and silt loading from improper sand and gravel mining techniques in the West Fork San Jacinto River have contributed to shallow-water habitat losses. Efforts to mitigate these losses have been unsuccessful to date.
- Prey species: Gizzard and threadfin shad, bluegill, and longear sunfish are the predominant prey species in Lake Houston. Other less numerous prey fishes include bullhead minnow, blacktail shiner, inland silverside, warmouth, and redear sunfish.
- Catfishes: Blue and channel catfish both occur in Lake Houston, but blue catfish are the dominant species. Catfish angling is an important segment of the Lake Houston fishery with 15% of all angling effort directed at catfish.
- White bass: Gill net catches of white bass have declined in the past several years, but creel data indicates a significant level of white bass angler catch and harvest, despite a low level of directed angling pressure.
- Largemouth bass: Electrofishing catch rates of largemouth bass have historically been low at Lake Houston. Degraded habitat due to silt loading and shoreline bulkheads limit the amount of available habitat for spawning and survival of juvenile bass. In spite of this, anglers seeking largemouth bass make up over 28% of all directed effort, and angler catches of largemouth bass account for approximately 7% of the total angler catch.
- Crappie: Though both black and white crappie occur in Lake Houston, white crappie far outnumber black crappie, and crappie are the most sought after species in the fishery. No trap net survey was conducted in 2006, but previous surveys in 1998 and 2002 produced catches in excess of five fish/nn. Angler catch and harvest of crappie is very high at Lake Houston.
- Statewide length and bag limits will continue to be used to regulate sport fish harvest.
- Cooperative efforts with the City of Houston will continue to address water quality and habitat issues.
- Exotic vegetation will continue to be monitored and treated as needed.
- Efforts to address the sand and gravel dredging operations in the West Fork San Jacinto River will also continue with help from the City of Houston and other private interests.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-30-R-32 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program