Houston County Lake - 2004 Survey Report
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Prepared by Jeff Henson and Mark Webb
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-E, Bryan, 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.
Houston County Lake was surveyed during the period June 2004 to May 2005 using electrofishing, trap netting, gill netting, a littoral zone habitat survey, an aquatic vegetation survey, and an angler access and facilities survey. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Houston County Lake is a 1,523 acre reservoir located on Little Elkhart Creek in the Trinity River basin near Crockett, Houston County, Texas. The reservoir lies within the Piney Woods Vegetational Area. Soil types are Freestone-Kenny and Kaufman-Trinity Associations. The Houston County Water District (controlling agency) constructed Houston County Lake in 1966 to provide water for municipal and industrial purposes. Houston County Lake has a drainage area of approximately 44 square miles and a shoreline length of 25 miles. Rainfall in the watershed averages 33 inches per year. Flooded timber and residential development surround the lakeshore.
- Prey species: Dominant prey fishes in Houston County Lake are threadfin shad, gizzard shad, bluegill, and redear sunfish. Other prey species include warmouth, longear sunfish, bullhead minnow, pugnose minnow, and blacktail shiner. Electrofishing catch rate of threadfin shad in 2004 was 150.0 fish/hour, similar to the previous two survey years (174.0 fish/hour in 1999 and 148.0 fish/hour in 2000). The fall 2004 electrofishing catch rate of gizzard shad (40 fish/hour) is similar to the previous two samples; however, there were fewer fish in the 2 to 5 inch category. Relative abundance of sub-stock sized gizzard shad was lower than it was in 2000 suggesting fewer gizzard shad available as forage. Bluegill continue to be the dominant sunfish species in Houston County Lake; however, the electrofishing catch rate in the 2004 sample (538.0 fish/hour) was about half that in 2002 (1,105.0 fish/hour). A large decrease in the number of sub-stock sized bluegill accounts for the drop in overall CPUE. The electrofishing catch rate of redear sunfish decreased from 361.0 fish/hour in 2002 to 237.0 fish/hour in 2004. PSD dropped from 25 in 2002 to 11 in 2004, and RSD-P dropped to zero in 2004 from 2 in 2002. Redear sunfish reach 4 inches in their second growing season and 7 inches in the third growing season. The 2002 spring creel survey indicates a low directed effort for sunfishes (0.5 hours/acre). Angler catch and harvest rates of sunfishes (species combined) were very high (15.3 and 2.2 fish/angler-hour, respectively). Sunfish to 9 inches were observed in the creel survey.
- Catfishes: Gill net catch rates of channel catfish have always been low at Houston County Lake. No anglers reported seeking catfish during the March-May 2002 creel survey.
- White bass: Only two white bass were captured in the 2005 sample. No anglers targeting white bass were noted in the March-May 2002 creel survey.
- Black bass: The electrofishing catch rate of largemouth bass in the fall of 2004 (82.0 fish/hour) was up from the 2003 sample (43.0 fish/hour) and similar to the 2002 sample (88.0 fish/hour). The PSD of bass decreased from 56 in 2003 to 29 in 2004 due to an increase in the sample relative abundance of bass 8 to12 inches from a strong year class in 2003. The lake was stocked with Florida largemouth bass in 2003 and 2004, and the genetic influence of Florida largemouth bass in the lake is still quite strong. Electrophoretic examination indicated that Florida largemouth bass alleles represented 67.4% of the total alleles in the sample (N=47), and 23.4% of the individuals in the sample were pure Florida genotype. The largemouth bass fishery is the most popular fishery at Houston County Lake. During the March-May 2002 creel survey, anglers reported spending 4.7 hours/acre seeking largemouth bass, representing >50% of the total effort. The angler catch rate of largemouth bass was 0.2 fish/angler-hour.
- Crappie: White and black crappie have not been well represented in trap net samples on Houston County Lake. Five white crappie and one black crappie were captured in fall 2000. Only six white crappie were captured in 2004 and no black crappie. However, results of the 2002 creel indicate a popular fishery for crappie. During the March-May 2002 creel survey, anglers reported spending 3.2 hours/acre seeking crappie (38% of total effort). The angler catch rate was 2.5 fish/angler-hour, and harvest was 1.5 fish/angler-hour with fish between 10 and 14 inches being harvested.
The largemouth bass fishery in Houston County Lake is providing marginal sport fishing opportunities. The number of slot-sized largemouth bass was lower in the 2004 sample than it was in the 2002 and 2003 samples with no fish above 15 inches captured. We will continue monitoring the bass population annually. No regulation changes are recommended at this time. The crappie population in Houston County Lake appears to be small and widely scattered. However, information obtained in the spring 2002 creel survey indicates a significant crappie fishery. TPWD will conduct a spring creel survey in 2006 to monitor the crappie population.
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