Fort Phantom Hill Reservoir - 2003 Survey Report
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Prepared by Spencer C. Dumont
Inland Fisheries Division
District 1-B, Abilene, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 29-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Fort Phantom Hill Reservoir was surveyed in 2003 using electrofishing, trap nets, and a six-month creel survey and in 2004 using gill nets. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Fort Phantom Hill is a 4,246-acre reservoir constructed on Elm Creek approximately 15 miles north of Abilene, Texas. It is located in the Brazos River Basin, and its primary use is municipal water supply. Secondary uses include power plant cooling and recreation. Beginning in December 2003, power plant generation was reduced to peak use only. The reservoir was last full in 1997. Water level was 11 to 14 feet below conservation level at time of sampling. At time of sampling, littoral habitat was primarily rock and dead flooded-terrestrial vegetation. Creel surveys in 2003 showed over 40,000 h of fishing effort from March through August, with about 75% of the total effort from bank anglers. Total direct expenditures by anglers from 2000 to 2003 ranged from $70,000 to $120,000 during the six-month creel survey.
- Prey species: Electrofishing catch rates of bluegill, sub-stock gizzard shad, and threadfin shad were 350/h, 204/h, and 37/h, respectively. Index of vulnerability (IOV) for gizzard shad was excellent, indicating that 98% of gizzard shad were available to existing predators; this was similar to IOV estimates in previous years. However, CPUE of gizzard shad was considerably lower than CPUE from previous surveys. Bluegill CPUE in 2003 increased relative to previous surveys, and size structure continued to be dominated by small individuals.
- Blue catfish: Gill net catch rate of blue catfish was 8.6/NN in 2004. Thirty-seven percent of the blue catfish collected in 2004 were at least 12 inches long, continuing an increasing trend since 1997. Blue catfish growth, although poor, improved in 2003. Directed effort for blue catfish was less than 1h/acre, and harvest was 2.5 fish/acre. Directed effort for “catfishes” represented 28% of angler effort in 2003. The harvest length frequency from 2000 to 2003 showed that blue catfish from 8 inches to 32 inches were harvested, but most harvest consisted of 12- to 14-inch fish.
- Channel catfish: The gill net catch rate of channel catfish was 1.2/NN in 2004. The channel catfish population appears to be consistently low in abundance with poor size structure. Directed effort for channel catfish was less than 0.1 h/acre in 2003, but many people fish for “catfish” in general. Harvest was about 0.5 fish/acre in 2003. The harvest length frequency from 2000 to 2003 showed few channel catfish were harvested. Harvested fish ranged in size from 10 inches to 18 inches, but most harvest consisted of 12 to 14-inch fish.
- White bass: The gill net catch rate of white bass was 22.2/NN in 2004, representing a large increase compared to previous surveys. Size structure was excellent as 49% of the white bass collected in 2004 were legal size. White bass growth was excellent as fish reached legal size by age 2. Directed effort for white bass is typically very low (less than 0.3 h/acre since 2000). However, angler catch and harvest has increased since 2000. White bass up to 16 inches long have been harvested.
- Palmetto bass: The gill net catch rate of palmetto bass was 11.8/NN in 2004, up from the 2003 catch rate of 4.9/NN. There was marked improvement in catch rates of palmetto bass less than 16 inches long in 2004, compared to surveys in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Larger, older individuals are still present in good numbers. Directed effort, harvest, and catch of palmetto bass has declined since 2001. Harvest length frequency consisted primarily of 18-to 20-inch fish, but fish from 11 to 17 inches were not uncommon.
- Largemouth bass: The electrofishing catch rate of stock length largemouth bass was 132/h in 2003, representing the highest catch rate of stock length largemouth bass since 1998. Size structure was excellent as PSD increased from 30 in 2001 to 55 in 2003, and RSD-16 steadily increased from 3 in 2000 to 12 in 2003. Electrophoresis in 2003 indicated a 62% frequency of Florida largemouth bass alleles with nearly 10% having a Florida largemouth bass genotype. Growth of largemouth bass was good as 65% of 8.0- to 11.9-inch fish were age 1 or less and nearly 75% of 12.0- to 14.9-inch fish were age 2 or less. Body condition was poor (under 90) for 9- to 14-inch fish and adequate for larger fish (90-100). Directed effort for largemouth bass fluctuated between 0.5 and 1.0 h/acre from 2000 to 2003. Angler catch rate and harvest has increased since 2001.
- White crappie: The trap net catch rate of white crappie was 8.6/NN in 2003. Trap net catch rates of white crappie fluctuated considerably from year to year. There appeared to be vast improvement in the RSD-P from 5 in 2002 to 37 in 2003. Body condition ranged from 93 to 112, increasing with fish size. Growth of white crappie was adequate, as the mean length at age 2 was 10 inches. White crappie are the most popular sport fish; 27% to 43% of angling effort is for white crappie. Angler harvest and angler catch has increased since 2001.
Continue stocking palmetto bass annually at 15/acre. Continue to monitor 12-inch and 16-inch minimum length limits on blue catfish and largemouth bass, respectively. Stock and evaluate Imperial channel catfish. Recommend regulation change on blue catfish if growth and size structure do not improve.
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