Meredith Reservoir - 2004 Survey Report
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Prepared by Charles Munger
Inland Fisheries Division
District 1-A, Canyon, Texas
This is the author's summary from a 41-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Meredith Reservoir was surveyed with electrofishing, trap nets, gill nets, and creel surveys from 2003 to 2005. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Meredith Reservoir is an impoundment on the Canadian River located 35 miles northeast of Amarillo, Texas. It was built in 1965 to provide municipal and industrial water. The reservoir was designed to impound a 16,000 acre reservoir, but the reservoir experiences substantial water level fluctuations and has recently experienced an extended drought. During this drought period, the reservoir has declined from approximately 11,500 acres in early 2000 to a record low of 5,784 acres in June 2004. Angler and boat access is adequate. Due to low water conditions, only 1 boat ramp was usable in summer 2004. Three ramps are now usable due to low water modifications. There is one handicap accessible fishing pier. Habitat in 1998 was primarily rock and gravel shoreline areas, with some flooded terrestrial vegetation, and 264 acres of native and non-native macrophytes (Munger 1999). There have been no significant man-made changes in habitat since 1998.
Important sport fish include walleye, white bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white crappie, and catfish. Walleye were managed under a two under 16 inches regulation to improve angler catch rates and size of fish caught. Smallmouth bass were placed under a 12-15 inch slot limit in 1992 in an effort to increase the number of larger fish. Largemouth bass, crappie and catfish have been managed under statewide regulations.
- Prey species: The electrofishing catch rate of gizzard shad was 151.3/hour (h) in 2003 and 296.0/h in 2004, and continued to increase trend from a low of 35.5/h in 1998 (Munger 1999). The index of vulnerability (IOV) of gizzard shad (88%) was adequate for existing predators. The electrofishing catch rate of bluegill declined since 1995. The catch rate in 2003 was 40.7/h and 31.3/h in 2004. The average catch rate from 1994 to 1996 was 154.5/h. The proportional stock density (PSD) in 2004 was 4 and the relative stock density (RSD-8) was 0. There has been no directed angling effort for bluegill in the creel survey since 2001 and only one 4-inch bluegill was documented in the 2003 creel survey.
- Channel Catfish: The gill net catch rate of channel catfish was 1.9/net night (NN) in 2004 and 1.6/NN in 2005, similar to the 1999-2003 average catch rate of 1.6/NN. Length frequency distribution indicated recruitment into legal size ranges. Mean relative weight of the population is good at about 100. Directed fishing effort for channel catfish was 0.63 h/acre. Total catch rate was 0.07/h in 2003 and 0.25/h in 2004. The harvest rate was 0.01/h in 2003 and 0.16/h in 2004.
- Flathead Catfish: The gill net catch rate of flathead catfish increased from 2.6/NN in 2002 and 1.4/NN in 2003 to 3.2/NN in 2004 and 3.4/NN in 2005, double the 1999-2003 average catch rate of 1.6/NN. Length frequency distribution information indicated there was recruitment. Relative weight of the sample has declined from around 105 from 1997 – 2003 to 92 in 2003 and 2004. The decline may be related to record low water levels during the past 2 years. During 2003 and 2004 creel surveys, there was no directed fishing effort toward flathead catfish. The catch and harvest rate of flathead catfish were both <0.01/h as only two fish were documented in the creel in 2004.
- White bass: The gill net catch rate of white bass was 3.6/NN in 2003 and 12.9/NN in 2005. The 2005 catch rate was much higher than the 1999-2003 average of 5.0/NN. Recruitment to legal size was good as almost all fish caught were ≥10 inches. Average age of white bass 9.0-10.9 inches TL was 2.7 years (SE = 0.13, N = 12). Relative weight for the sample remained poor at about 90. Directed fishing effort remained low at 0.16 h/acre in 2003 and 0.28 h/acre in 2004. Prior to 2000, directed effort was above 0.40 h/acre and was as high as 1.33 h/acre. The catch rate of anglers seeking white bass was 0.60/h in 2003 and 0.49/h in 2004. Harvest rate was 0.41/h in 2003 and 0.38/h in 2004.
- Smallmouth bass: The electrofishing catch rate of smallmouth bass was 14.0/h in 2003 and 9.3/h in 2004. These catch rates were the lowest in 10 years and are likely due to loss of habitat due to record low water levels during the past two years. Condition of smallmouth bass remains lower than desired with all sizes of fish in poor condition. Average condition has improved over the past two years though as the gizzard shad population has increased. Directed fishing effort was 0.06 h/acre in 2003 and 0.13 h/acre in 2004. The catch rate for anglers seeking smallmouth bass was very low at 0.00/h in 2003 and 0.20/h in 2004 with the harvest rate remaining the same at 0.00/h. All harvest of smallmouth bass was by anglers who were either seeking another species or were seeking no species in particular.
- Largemouth bass: The electrofishing catch rate of largemouth bass was 8.7/h in 2002 and 2003 and 7.3/h in 2004 and all are within typical sampling variation (range 5.0 – 36.9/h). The Young to Adult Ratio (YAR) was 2.99, which is within the optimal range of 1-10. Directed fishing effort was 0.05 h/acre in 2003 and 0.51 in 2004. The catch rate for anglers seeking largemouth bass was 0.24/h in 2004, and the harvest rate was 0.00/h. Only 2 fish were documented as harvested in the 2004 creel survey and none in the 2003 survey. All harvest of largemouth bass was by anglers who were either seeking another species or were seeking no species in particular.
- Crappies: The trap net catch rate of white crappie was 1.9/NN in 2002 and 5.8/NN in 2004; within the normal sampling variation (range 1.0 – 6.9/NN) for this gear and species. Condition of white crappie has remained poor with average relative weights in the mid to low 80’s. Directed fishing effort was 0.34 h/acre in 2003 and 0.17 in 2004. Total catch rate by anglers seeking crappie declined from 0.21/h in 2003 to 0.13/h in 2004 and was far below the 1998 to 2002 average of 0.87/h. Harvest rates were 0.07/h in 2003 and 0.05/h in 2004. These rates were below the 1998 to 2002 average of 0.31/h. The 2002 trap net catch rate for black crappie remained low at 0.1/net night with only 2 fish collected and no fish were collected in 2004. There was no angling pressure directed specifically at black crappie.
- Walleye: The catch rate of walleye in gill nets was 14.3/NN in 2004 and 11.9/NN in 2005. These catch rates are much lower than the 2002 catch rate of 24.2/NN and 37.0/NN in 2003. The 2004 and 2005 catch rates are about half the 2000-2003 average of 25.0/NN. The decline in catch rate may be due to record low water levels in 2004. Walleye were collected by electrofishing at a catch rate of 11.4/h in 2003 and 42.7/h in 2004. The 1998-2002 average electrofishing catch rate was 23.8/h. Electrofishing samples indicate good reproduction. The average age of walleye 15.0 to 16.9 inches TL in 2005 was 4.5 years (SE = 0.26, N = 20). Mean relative weight was 98 for samples collected in 2004 and 2005. Directed fishing effort was 0.50 h/acre in 2003 to 1.55 h/acre in 2004. The very low directed pressure in 2003 was likely due to wide publicity about falling water levels at Meredith Reservoir and the closing of most of the boat ramps. The catch rate for anglers seeking walleye was 0.60 fish/h in 2003 and 0.13 fish/h in 2004. The harvest rate was 0.10 fish/h in 2003 and 0.13 fish/h in 2004 and was within normal sampling variability. Seventy six percent of walleye observed as harvested in the creel in 2003 were less than 16 inches in length and 44% were less than 16 inches in 2004. Walleye as small as 5 inches were documented in the creel survey indicating anglers are willing to harvest small fish.
Based on current information, all species in the reservoir should continue to be managed with existing regulations. The harvest regulation for walleye changed on September 1, 1999 from a 16-inch minimum length, 5-fish daily bag to a 5-fish daily bag with no more than 2 fish under 16 inches. The existing walleye regulation is being evaluated through continuation of standard gill net sampling through 2006. Evaluation of standard versus random sampling indicated standard stations are more effective at collecting all target species. Largemouth bass are recommended for stocking when the YAR is below the accepted range of 1-10 and water levels have increased enough to inundate adequate cover.
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