Lake Sheldon - 2004 Survey Report
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Prepared by Jeff Henson and Mark Webb
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-E, Bryan, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 23-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Lake Sheldon was surveyed during the period June 2004 to May 2005 using electrofishing, trap netting, gill netting, a littoral zone habitat survey, an aquatic vegetation survey, and an angler access and facilities survey. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Lake Sheldon is a 1,200 acre reservoir on Culpepper Bayou in Harris County, Texas, lying within the Sheldon Wildlife Management Area. The lake has a drainage area of 4.0 square miles, a shoreline length of 13.1 miles, and a shoreline development ratio of 2.7. The reservoir has a mean depth of 3 feet and a maximum depth of 20 feet. Rainfall in the watershed averages 42.6 inches per year. Lake Sheldon lies within the Gulf Coast Plains Land Resource Area with Lake Charles/Benard Association (clay) soil types. Land uses around Lake Sheldon are primarily agricultural and recreational.
- Prey species: Gizzard and threadfin shad were absent in the 2005 electrofishing sample. Electrofishing sampling efficiency was much reduced due to low water and extensive vegetation cover and may account for the lack of shad species collected. The catch rate of bluegills was 42.0 fish/hour, higher than it was in 2000 (7.0 fish/hour) but still much lower than it was in 1997 (189.0 fish/hour) (Henson and Webb 1997, Henson and Webb 2000). Since 1989 redear sunfish have rarely occurred in electrofishing samples from Lake Sheldon. In 2004, the electrofishing CPUE for redear sunfish was 84.0 fish/hour with fish up to 7 inches in the sample.
- Catfishes: The gill net catch of blue catfish in 2005 (1.4/net-night) was much lower than it was in previous surveys. Blue catfish were well represented in the 2001 catch at 10.4 fish/net night and ranged from 6 to 31 inches in length. Gill net CPUE of channel catfish was 2.4 fish/net-night in 2005 with all individuals > 17 inches in length. Seventeen channel catfish were captured in 2001 (3.4/net night) ranging in length from 10 to 19 inches. No age and growth analysis was conducted on catfish this year. Blue and channel catfish normally surpass 12 inches in their second growing season and reach 15 inches by age 2 or 3 (Henson and Webb 1997).
- Largemouth bass: The electrofishing CPUE of largemouth bass greatly increased in 2004 to 249.0 fish/hour from 2.0 fish/hour in 2000. The increase was primarily due to a large number of age-0 bass in the sample. Largemouth bass catches have been typically low on Lake Sheldon. One reason for low catches of bass is the difficulty in sampling this reservoir because of thick vegetation. Though numbers from past surveys have been low, catches tend to be evenly distributed across a wide range of lengths. Bass captured in 2004 ranged from 3 to 16 inches total length. Largemouth bass reach the state-wide minimum length limit of 14 inches in their third growing season (Henson and Webb 2000).
- Crappie: The trap net catch rate of white crappie in 2004 was 0.4 fish/net night, down drastically from 20.4/net night in 2000. The catch in 2000 was very well distributed across all sizes classes from 2 to 14 inches, indicating population expansion over the past several years. No black crappie were captured in our 2004 sample. White crappie attain legal harvestable size (10 inches) by about age 3 (Henson and Webb 2000).
Lake Sheldon is a very important asset to Texas Parks and Wildlife and to the people of Houston. To make the most of this resource the Inland Fisheries Division is working closely with State Parks and Infrastructure Divisions to improve the reservoir in conjunction with the development of the Lake Sheldon Education Center. Priority projects are underway to improve access to Lake Sheldon by control of over-abundant vegetation, construction of a new boat ramp, and dredging of boat lanes in shallow areas. Fish stockings are also conducted to enhance largemouth bass and channel catfish angling opportunities. As these efforts continue, angling opportunities at Lake Sheldon will be published through various media outlets, lakeside signs, and brochures.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-30-R-30 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program