Toledo Bend Reservoir - 2003 Survey Report
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Prepared by Todd Driscoll
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-D, Jasper, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 45-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Toledo Bend Reservoir was surveyed in 2003-2004 with electrofishing (fall and spring [largemouth bass only]), trap nets, gill nets, a creel survey, a structural habitat/aquatic vegetation survey, and an angler access survey. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and comparisons are made with historical data (1986-2003). Based on this information, a management plan was developed for the reservoir.
Toledo Bend Reservoir, an impoundment of the Sabine River, was constructed by the Sabine River Authority for flood control, generation of hydroelectric power, and water supply for municipal, industrial, agricultural, and recreational uses. At conservation pool (172 feet msl), Toledo Bend Reservoir is 162,476 surface acres (77,700 acres in Texas), has a shoreline length of 1,200 miles, and a mean depth of 20 feet. Water level fluctuations average 5 feet annually. Access is excellent for both bank and boat anglers. The majority of habitat in the lake consists of submerged aquatic vegetation and standing timber. Most of the land around the reservoir is used for timber production, agriculture, and residential development.
- Prey species: Primary prey species include gizzard shad, threadfin shad, and bluegill. All three species currently provide abundant prey. Gizzard shad catch rates in 2002 (240.5/hour) and 2003 (166.5/hour) exceeded the historical reservoir average (87.1/hour). Similarly, threadfin shad catch rates in 2001 (303.0/hour), 2002 (818.5/hour), and 2003 (636.5/hour) exceeded the historical average of 178.4/hour. Although bluegill catch rates during the last three surveys (2001 – 298.0/hour; 2002 – 177.0/hour; 2003 – 291.0/hour) were lower than the historical average (383.6/hour), their current abundance still provides ample prey. Few anglers target sunfish (3% of total fishing effort), but they are frequently harvested by anglers seeking other species.
- Catfishes: Since 2002, blue catfish recruitment has been relatively steady and sufficient, as catch rates ranged from 6.4 to 6.7 fish/net-night and exceeded the historical average of 4.5 fish/net-night. The number of quality size (> 20 inches) blue catfish has also remained relatively stable over this period, and fish were in good condition (Wr values ranged from 80-113). Historically, channel catfish catch rates have been relatively low (2.9 fish/netnight). Catch rates during the last three survey years were similar to this average (ranged from 1.1 to 4.7 fish/net-night). Creel data indicate relatively low rod and reel effort directed at catfish (< 2 % of total fishing effort). However, observations during creel surveys indicate that passive gear effort is considerably higher. A majority of the catfish harvest included fish 12 – 18 inches in length.
- Temperate basses: Historically, gill net catch rates of white bass have averaged 1.6 fish/net-night, indicating a low-density population in the reservoir. Although essentially no fishery is present in the reservoir (< 2% of total fishing effort), anecdotal information suggests a popular fishery exists in the Sabine River above the reservoir. Striped bass are stocked annually by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) to support broodfish for hybrid striped bass production. Striped bass numbers are relatively low and the fishery is minimal (< 1% of total fishing effort).
- Black basses: Spotted bass are present in the reservoir, but few are collected by electrofishing (historical average = 1.6/hour) and they contribute little to annual harvest. Less than 6,000 fish were harvested during each of the last two annual periods. Historically, both fall and spring electrofishing data indicate a stable, relatively abundant largemouth bass population with good recruitment. Since 1986, fall catch rates have averaged 142.0/hour. In 2001 – 2003, catch rates were similar, ranging from 122.5 to 144.5/hour. Spring catch rates were also relatively high and similar over the same period, ranging from 134.5 – 183.0/hour. Both fall and spring surveys also reflected relatively consistent size structure among years. Fish are in good condition, as Wr values exceeded 89 for all inch groups. Growth of most age groups was similar among years and faster than ecological region averages. Largemouth bass attain legal size in this reservoir by age 2 or 3. The majority of total fishing effort at Toledo Bend Reservoir (73%) is directed at black basses. From 2001 – 2003, angler catch rates, harvest rates, and directed effort were extremely consistent. Catch rates exceeded 0.7 fish/hour during all three years. Numbers (~ 100,000 fish) and size distribution of harvested largemouth bass (majority were 14 – 18 inches in length) were also similar in 2002 and 2003. In 2001 – 2003, electrophoresis revealed similar Florida largemouth bass allele (range - 25.3 to 33.8%) and pure Florida largemouth bass frequencies (range - 1.4 to 6.3%). Since 2000, Florida largemouth bass have been stocked in a 5,000 acre embayment at a rate of 100 fish/acre. In 2002 and 2003, samples from this embayment reflected an increase in the frequency of pure Florida largemouth bass from 0.0 to 8.1%.
- Crappie: Historically, trap netting has been an ineffective method of collecting crappie at Toledo Bend Reservoir and not indicative of population status. Since 1986, catch rates have averaged 2.3 fish/net-night and only one black crappie was collected in 2003. Spring gill netting data indicate an abundant adult crappie population (predominantly black crappie) in good condition (Wr values exceed 94 for all inch groups). Creel data reflect a relatively stable and viable crappie fishery that is second only to the black bass fishery in terms of total fishing effort (19%). During 2001 – 2003, angler catch rates, harvest rates, and directed effort were remarkably similar. Annual harvest (both in terms of number and size structure) was also similar for both black and white crappie in 2002 and 2003.
- Based on current information, the reservoir should continue to be managed with the current standardized regulations.
- Since 1987, joint efforts with LDWF have resulted in standardization of most of the fishing regulations. However, different jurisdictional regulations on crappie, catfish, and yellow bass fisheries still exist. These differences are confusing to anglers and cause law enforcement problems. Efforts to standardize these regulations should continue.
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