Lake Palestine - 2009 Survey Report
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Prepared by Patrick A. Beck and Richard A. Ott, Jr.,
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-C, Tyler, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 34-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
The Lake Palestine fish community was surveyed from June 2009 through May 2010 using electrofishing, gill netting, and trap netting. A vegetation survey was conducted in September 2009. A roving creel survey, conducted from June 2009 through May 2010, collected angler use and harvest information. This report summarizes results of these surveys and contains a management plan based on those findings.
Lake Palestine is a 23,434-acre reservoir on the Neches River, Texas, built to provide water for municipal and industrial purposes. Boat access is adequate, but public bank angler access is limited to public boat ramps or at bridge crossings (where parking is limited). None of the public boat ramps have facilities marked as handicap-specific, but the courtesy pier nearest the dam has guard rails making wheelchair accessibility possible. Overall coverage of submersed aquatic vegetation remains below 5%.
Important sport fish include sunfishes, largemouth bass, white bass, palmetto bass (white x striped bass), blue catfish, channel catfish, white crappie, and black crappie. Florida largemouth bass stockings were conducted in 2008 and 2009. The 12-inch length limit for white bass reverted to the statewide 10-inch limit in September 2003. Biennial monitoring of largemouth bass, temperate basses, and catfishes was conducted. Palmetto bass were stocked in 2007, 2008, and 2009 at a reduced rate due to limited hatchery production. Vegetation surveys identified water hyacinth and giant salvinia in the system; mechanical control of both species was successful.
- Prey species: Threadfin shad and gizzard shad are still present in the reservoir but electrofishing catch rates were lower than in previous surveys. Redear and bluegill sunfishes <4 inches also exhibited lower electrofishing catch rates than previous surveys but continue to provide adequate prey for sport fishes.
- Catfishes: Channel catfish size distribution and growth (Ott and Bister 2002) were poor. Blue catfish size distribution was better than channel catfish and these two species account for the majority of directed angler effort.
- Temperate basses: Abundance of white bass continued to be low. Gill net catch rate of palmetto bass was low and reflect low stocking rate. Angler effort has declined and may be related to low target-fish abundance.
- Largemouth bass: Largemouth bass size distribution was better than previous surveys and reflects a strong 2007 year class. Body condition and growth rate were good. Directed angler effort for largemouth bass has declined but angler success has improved.
- Crappie: White and black crappie trap net catch rates continue to be low but body condition is good. Crappie is the second most sought after species group and angler catch rate has increased.
- Conduct fall electrofishing in 2011 to assess largemouth bass population parameters and Florida largemouth bass genetics.
- Consider modifications to catfish harvest regulations; conduct additional gill netting in 2012 to monitor catfish population dynamics.
- Promote Lake Palestine angling opportunities by way of news releases.
- Continue requesting palmetto bass stocking annually.
- Continue soliciting partners or funding for a Lake Palestine aquatic habitat enhancement program.
- Continue monitoring invasive exotic species as necessary.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-30-R-35 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program