Lake Monticello - 2011 Survey Report
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Prepared by Timothy J. Bisterand Lynn D. Wright
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-A, Marshall, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 24-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Fish populations in Lake Monticello were surveyed in 2011 using electrofishing and in 2012 using gill netting. A vegetation and habitat survey was conducted in August 2011. Anglers were surveyed from December 2009 through February 2010 and December 2011 through February 2012 with an access creel. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Lake Monticello is a 2,001-acre impoundment constructed in 1972 on Smith and Blundell Creeks in the Big Cypress River Basin. Primary uses are for power plant cooling and recreation. Structural habitat is mainly inundated timber. Native aquatic plant abundance is limited and waterhyacinth and hydrilla are present in the reservoir. A substantial fish kill occurred during the summer 2006.
Important sport fish include channel catfish and largemouth bass. Channel catfish are managed with the statewide 12-inch minimum length limit. Largemouth bass are managed with a 14- to 24-inch slot length limit and 5-fish daily bag, of which only one fish can be greater than 24 inches. The largemouth bass population is managed for its trophy potential due to the high percentage of pure Florida largemouth bass genetics and fast growth.
- Prey species: Few shad were collected during 2011 electrofishing, but bluegill abundance was adequate as prey for largemouth bass in the reservoir.
- Catfishes: There were many channel catfish collected above legal length (12 inches) during the 2012 gill net survey. Catfish were the second most sought species during the past two winter creel surveys. Catfish angling is good during this time of year at Lake Monticello; anglers caught almost 3 fish/hour during the 2011/2012 winter survey.
- Largemouth bass: Electrofishing catch rates were low and no fish were observed > 24 inches. However, many young fish were collected, which indicated the potential for a strong year class to grow to larger sizes within the coming years. Fish body condition was good, indicating adequate prey availability. Largemouth bass growth was fast; average age of 14-inch fish was 1.5 years. In a sample of 30 fish in 2011, 27% were pure Florida largemouth bass. Over 90% of the directed effort during winter creel surveys in 2009/2010 and 2011/2012 at Lake Monticello was from anglers targeting largemouth bass. In both surveys, more than half of all largemouth bass caught were within the protective slot length limit.
- Crappie: Trap netting was not conducted during this survey period due to historically poor trap-net catch at this reservoir. No anglers targeted crappie during the 2009/2010 or 2011/2012 winter creel surveys. No crappie were caught by other anglers.
- Conduct electrofishing surveys every other year beginning in 2013, and general monitoring with gill netting 2015-2016.
- Waterhyacinth surveys will be conducted annually beginning in 2012. Technical guidance will be given to controlling authority regarding waterhyacinth management.
- Largemouth bass will continue to be managed with a 14- to 24- inch slot length limit.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-221-M-2 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program