Martin Creek Reservoir - 2005 Survey Report
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Prepared by Dan Ashe and Todd Driscoll
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-D, Jasper, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 25-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Fish populations in Martin Creek Reservoir were surveyed in 2005 using electrofishing and in 2006 using gill nets. A creel survey scheduled for December 2005 – February 2006 was cancelled due to low water levels and lack of boat access. A structural habitat/aquatic vegetation survey was conducted in July 2005. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Martin Creek Reservoir is located on Martin Creek, a tributary of the Sabine River in Rusk County. TXU Energy impounded the reservoir in 1974 to provide cooling water for their coal-powered generators. At conservation pool, Martin Creek Reservoir is 4,981 acres in size, has a shoreline length of 62 miles, and a mean depth of 16 feet. Water level fluctuations average 2-3 feet annually.
Past creel surveys indicated that the catfish fishery was the most popular at Martin Creek Reservoir, followed by largemouth bass and crappie fisheries. Both the catfish and crappie fishery were highly consumptive. The management plan from the 2001 survey report included stocking blue catfish at 50 fish/acre for two consecutive years in an attempt to establish a self-sustaining population to provide catfish anglers an additional sport fish with greater growth potential. Blue catfish fingerlings were stocked into Martin Creek Reservoir in 2003, but limited hatchery production has prevented a second stocking. The reservoir is scheduled for stocking in 2006. Triploid grass carp were stocked from 1996 through 1999 at a rate of 0.6/acre each year to reduce hydrilla that covered about a third of the reservoir. There is little to no vegetation in the reservoir at present. The triploid grass carp stockings in conjunction with extreme low water conditions in 1996 and 2005 have decresed the aquatic vegetation coverage.
- Prey species: Primary prey species are gizzard shad, threadfin shad, and bluegill. Electrofishing rates and body condition of largemouth bass suggests that these species provided ample forage for predator species.
- Catfishes: Channel catfish appear to be increasing in abundance based on gill net data. The catfish fishery is the most popular fishery for the reservoir. Blue catfish fingerlings were stocked in 2003 and are scheduled to be stocked again in 2006. Gill net data indicates that the stocked blue catfish have had good survival and excellent growth.
- Largemouth bass: Largemouth bass provide the second most popular fishery for the reservoir. Largemouth bass are relatively abundant, with the size structure observed in the fall of 2005 indicating a strong year class.
- Crappies: White crappie are present in the reservoir, but sampling indicated black crappie was the predominant species. The department has not conducted trap net surveys for crappie since 2001, due to the inefficiency of the gear in this reservoir. No crappie were collected during the 2006 gill net survey. Past growth rate analysis have shown that black crappie reach legal size during their second year, greatly exceeding ecological region averages. Angler catch rates for crappie were 0.75/h.
Due to reduced vegetation and habitat, largemouth abundance has experienced variability over recent years. Anglers on this reservoir are consumptive fishermen harvesting most of the legal sized fish they catch. We recommend stocking white bass to provide an additional fishing opportunity that would be ideal for a consumptive public.
The department has stocked blue catfish to provide an additional trophy sport fish for the reservoir. The reservoir is scheduled to be stocked with blue catfish fingerlings again in 2006. The reservoir has the potential to produce an increased number of memorable and trophy largemouth bass. The department plans to gather angler opinion data on the subject of amending the largemouth bass minimum length limits that may increase abundance of larger largemouth bass.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-30-R-31 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program