Sam Rayburn Reservoir - 2008 Survey Report
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Prepared by Todd Driscoll and Dan Ashe
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-D, Jasper, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 37-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Fish populations in Sam Rayburn Reservoir were surveyed in 2008 using electrofishing and in 2009 using gill netting. Anglers were surveyed from June 2008 through May 2009 with a creel survey. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir.
Sam Rayburn Reservoir is an 111,422-acre impoundment of the Angelina River in Jasper, Tyler, Angelina, Nacogdoches, San Augustine, and Sabine counties in southeast Texas. Water level fluctuations average 6.7 feet annually. Aquatic habitat
consisted of aquatic vegetation (primarily hydrilla and American lotus) and standing timber.
The black bass fishery is the most popular at Sam Rayburn Reservoir (65 - 80% of annual angling effort, which includes over 400 bass tournaments per year). Approximately 10 - 20% of anglers target crappie and 4 - 8% target catfish. Angler interest in more restrictive length limits for largemouth bass and potential biological and economic impacts of bass tournaments prompted research in 2004 - 2009. Results indicated that the proportion of the largemouth bass population harvested was relatively low (9%) and more restrictive length limits would provide little benefit. In addition, impacts of tournaments on the largemouth bass population were low (only 5% of population retained by tournament anglers) but tournament expenditures were high (73% of total). Florida largemouth bass (FLMB) have been stocked annually since 1994 to increase abundance of large bass (>8 pounds). In 2008, giant salvinia was found in the reservoir. Numerous introductions via boat trailers have occurred. Most plants have been removed, but giant salvinia persists in two locations (<5 total acres) and additional spread is likely.
- Prey species: Gizzard shad, threadfin shad, and bluegill were the most abundant prey species and provided ample forage for sport fish.
- Catfishes: The relative abundance of blue and channel catfish was stable compared to previous years. Angler catch rates averaged 2.9/hour. Blue and flathead catfish provided trophy opportunities for anglers.
- Temperate basses: White bass were present in the reservoir but numbers were low. Palmetto bass stockings were discontinued after 2000 and few fish remain. During the last two survey years, no anglers targeted temperate bass.
- Black basses: Spotted bass were present in low numbers. Largemouth bass abundance was high compared to previous years, and size structure and fish condition were favorable. The black bass fishery was most popular (68.9% of anglers targeted bass). The angler catch rate was high (1.1/hour).
- Crappie: White and black crappie were present in the reservoir. Angler catch (1.5/hour) and total annual harvest (99,087 fish) reflected an abundant crappie population.
- Stock FLMB annually to maintain and improve large fish abundance.
- Monitor largemouth bass population annually with electrofishing and creel surveys.
- Continue tournament monitoring program to more effectively monitor larger fish abundance.
- Maintain information signs, conduct annual aerial vegetation surveys, and apply herbicides when appropriate to minimize impacts of giant salvinia.
- Monitor the crappie fishery via annual creel surveys.
- Publish results of economic impact research.
- Monitor the catfish populations with annual creel surveys and gill net surveys every two years.
- Publish monthly articles in the Lakecaster highlighting TPWD activities.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-30-R-34 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program