Kurth Reservoir - 2003 Survey Report
Prepared by Jules Smith and Todd Driscoll
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-D, Jasper, 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.
Kurth Reservoir was surveyed in 2003-2004 with electrofishing (both fall and spring [largemouth bass only]), trap nets, gill nets, a structural habitat/aquatic vegetation survey, and an angler access survey. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and comparisons are made with historical data (1986-2003). Based on this information, a management plan was developed for the reservoir.
Kurth Reservoir is located on a small, unnamed tributary of the Angelina River in the Neches River basin. Abitibi Consolidated is the controlling authority and primary use is water supply for their paper mill. At conservation pool (197.5 ft. msl), Kurth Reservoir is 726 surface acres in size, has a shoreline length of 15 miles, and a mean depth of 15 feet. Water level fluctuations average 3 feet annually. Historically, public access was restricted at the reservoir via a closed period (November 1 to March 14 each year) and an outboard motor horsepower restriction (boats equipped with > 20 horsepower motors were denied access). Based on TPWD recommendations to increase angler access and safety, Abitibi Consolidated removed both the closed period and horsepower restriction and implemented a lake-wide no-wake zone in March of 2003. Current angler and boat access is adequate, but no handicap-specific facilities exist. Habitat in the lake consists of flooded timber and aquatic vegetation (primarily hydrilla). Most of the land around the reservoir is used for timber production.
- Prey species: Gizzard shad, threadfin shad, and bluegill are the primary prey species in Kurth Reservoir. Electrofishing catch rates in 2003 were 73.0/hour, 48.0/hour, and 289.0/hour for these species, respectively. Gizzard shad catch rates were higher than those observed in 1996 (19.0/hour) and 1999 (9.0/hour), and above the historical reservoir average of 20.8/hour. The 2003 sample also included vulnerable gizzard shad (4 to 5-inch fish) absent from 1996 and 1999 surveys. Threadfin shad catch rates were lower than 1996 (554.0/hour), higher than 1999 (8.0/hour), and lower than the historical reservoir average of 112.0/hour. Bluegill catch rates exceed those in 1996 (201.0/hour) and 1999 (213.0/hour) and were higher than the historical reservoir average (189.8/hour). These data, coupled with growth rates and relative weights of sport fish, indicate that the prey base is adequate.
- Catfishes: Historical catch rate averages indicate that both blue catfish (2.9/net-night) (originally stocked in 1995) and channel catfish (1.4/net-night) are present in low numbers. Catch rates for both species in 2004 were below these averages. Catfish recruitment is likely limited by largemouth bass predation.
- Hybrid striped bass: Hybrid striped bass were stocked annually during 1994-1998. Although an abundant population was established, angler interest in the fishery never developed and stocking was discontinued. As expected, gill net catch rates have declined from 10.6 (2000) to 1.0 fish/net night (2004). There are no future plans to stock hybrid striped bass.
- Black bass: 2003 fall electrofishing catch rate for largemouth bass (236.0/hour) increased considerably when compared to 1996 (77.0/hour), 1999 (62.0/hour), and the historical average (110.3/hour). Most of this increase was due to higher catch of 5 to 12-inch fish, reflecting relatively high recruitment rates. Since 1999, increased largemouth bass survival is a likely result of the rise in hydrilla coverage. Spring electrofishing data reflect a more stable population density (range – 52.5 to 114.0/hour) with similar size structure (PSD range – 54 to 69). Largemouth bass growth rates are excellent compared to ecological region averages with fish reaching legal size (> 14 inches) before age 3. Relative weights are also desirable with all values > 90 indicating improvement in condition since 1999. Recent stockings of Florida largemouth bass were successful, as allele frequencies increased from 6.7% in 1996 to 36.8% in 2003. Historically, catch rates of spotted bass were relatively high in Kurth Reservoir (21.8/hour). In 2003, the catch rate declined considerably to 9.0/hour, reflecting reduced population density likely attributable to competition with increasing numbers of largemouth bass.
- Crappie: Both black and white crappie densities are relatively low. Historically, trap net catch rates average 0.7 fish/net-night (white and black crappie combined). In 2003-2004, trap nets and gill nets captured only three black crappie and two white crappie, respectively.
- In 2003 production was stopped at the Abitibi Consolidated paper mill and its future is uncertain. Although public access is currently unaffected, reservoir closure is possible. Abitibi Consolidated will be contacted concerning the future of public access before any additional management activities are conducted at the reservoir.
- Based on current information, this reservoir should continue to be managed under current regulations. At this time, little is known about the fishery. In 2007, a spring season creel survey will be conducted to gather baseline information on total fishing effort and angler catch.
- Since its discovery at Kurth Reservoir in 1999, hydrilla expanded to cover 34% of the waterbody in 2002. Although this coverage level has benefited bluegill and largemouth bass recruitment, industrial water use was impeded at the Abitibi Consolidated water intake structure. In 2002, a vegetation management plan was developed and 1000 triploid grass carp were stocked at a conservative rate (5 fish/vegetated acre) in an attempt to reduce hydrilla coverage to 10-15%. In 2003, hydrilla coverage decreased to 20%. Annual vegetation surveys will be conducted to monitor trends in hydrilla abundance.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-30-R-29 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program