Lake Tyler East - 2003 Survey Report
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Prepared by Richard A. Ott, Jr. and Timothy J. Bister
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-C, Tyler, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 27-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Lake Tyler East was surveyed during the period June 2003 to May 2004 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 Tyler East is a 2,276-acre reservoir on Mud Creek, Texas, and a tributary of the Angelina River. It was built to provide water for municipal and industrial purposes. Boat access is good with 3 public ramps and bank angler access is adequate and is available at several city parks. Although facilities are generally accessible to handicapped none of the facilities provided are specifically marked as ADA approved. Littoral habitat is sparse in the lower half of the reservoir, consisting mainly of featureless shoreline or featureless shoreline with boat docks. A narrow fringe of native emergent vegetation (primarily maiden-cane) is present in this area, providing cover when water level is near full pool, but only covers approximately 37 acres. Littoral habitat is more abundant in the upper third of the reservoir (adjacent to the SH 64 bridge) where native floating-leaved vegetation (primarily American lotus, white water-lily, and spatterdock) occupy 148 acres and native submersed vegetation (primarily stonewort and pondweed) occupy 49 acres. A very small area (trace) of hydrilla was observed just below the SH 64 bridge; however, coverage has declined substantially since 1996 when it covered 26 acres. Eelgrass, which was relatively abundant in previous surveys, was not found in 2003.
- Prey species: Sunfishes (bluegill and redear) were the dominant prey species at Lake Tyler East. Total catch rate of all sunfish species combined (1,007fish/hr) was somewhat below that in 1999 (1,452 fish/hr) and 2001 (1,128 fish/hr), but remained acceptable. The majority of sunfishes collected were < 4 inches in length and were available as prey but they likely do not a support a substantial fishery. Electrofishing catch rate of gizzard shad (74 fish/hr) was similar to that in previous years; however, most were too large (> 8 inches) to provide benefit as prey. Threadfin shad were also present but in much lower abundance (3 fish/hr).
- Catfishes: Lake Tyler East supports a low density channel catfish population with poor natural recruitment. The gill net catch rate of channel catfish in 2004 (4.4 fish/net night) was higher than in 1996 or 1999 (2.2 and 1.6 fish/net night, respectively); however, surveys continue to yield low numbers of fish < 12 inches in length. Survival of young catfish in Lake Tyler is thought to be limited, in part, due to an abundant predator population (namely largemouth bass). Samples taken in 2004 show that legal-size fish (>12 inches) are available to anglers. This segment of the population showed good size distribution (PSD=82) and specimens as long as 26-inches were captured in surveys. Channel catfish captured in 2004 were in good body condition (Wr > 90) suggesting that adequate prey was available. Growth rates of channel catfish have also been good (Bonds and Ott 1999) and are typical of what would be expected in a low density channel catfish population. Lake Tyler East was stocked with blue catfish in 1971 and 1975; however, no blue catfish have been captured in surveys since 1992. Factors that are thought to limit channel catfish recruitment in Lake Tyler East, may also limit blue catfish recruitment. Stockings of advanced size catfish (9 to 12 inches) may be a good management option to maximize angling opportunities for catfish in Lake Tyler.
- Black basses: Lake Tyler East has shown potential to produce trophy-sized fish and has been a popular destination for tournament angling interests. Florida strain largemouth bass were stocked in Lake Tyler East in 1979 and again in 2002 and 2003. The initial stocking was successful in establishing and maintaining Florida bass genes in this population as Florida bass allele frequency was estimated at 42.5% in 2001. Genetic composition of the population will be re-assessed again in fall 2005 to evaluate the success of the 2002 and 2003 stockings. The electrofishing catch rate in 2003 (87fish/hr) was similar to that in 1993, 1996, and 1999, but was below the unusually high catch rate (240 fish/hr) observed in 2001. Proportional stock density (PSD) was 23, slightly below the target range of 40-70. Mean relative weight (Wr) was >95 for most size classes and was indicative of adequate prey availability. An accurate growth rate assessment could not be made in 2003 because only a few fish age-3 and older fish (N=3) were collected. However, historical data indicate that most largemouth bass at Lake Tyler East reach legal minimum-length (14 inches) during their fourth growing season.
- Crappie: Both white crappie and black crappie were collected in 2003. Trap net catch rate of white crappie (4.2 fish/net-night) was lower in 2003 than in 1999 (7.8 fish/net night) but was higher than in 1996 (2.8 fish/net-night). Black crappie catch rate (1.4/net-night) was similar to 1999 (1.8 fish/net) but was higher than in 1996 (0.4 fish/net-night). Catch rate for both species combined was similar to that in previous years, suggesting no overall change in crappie abundance in this reservoir. The size distribution of white crappie was good with legal length fish (>10 inch) accounting for about half of all fish sampled. In contrast, no legal length black crappies were collected. Mean Wr of legal length crappie of both species was below optimal and may be partly due to low threadfin shad abundance found in fall 2003. Growth of white crappie continues to be good, with most reaching harvestable length by their third growing season. No black crappie older than age-2 were collected in 2003, but historical data indicated that black crappie reach legal length by their 4th growing season.
- Based on current information, Lake Tyler East fishing regulations should be maintained at their current status.
- Because of the importance of the largemouth bass fishery at Lake Tyler East, biennial electrofishing and electrophoretic sampling should continue with the next sampling scheduled for fall 2005.
- To promote the fishery and clarify harvest regulations angler information projects should be continued utilizing news releases, regulation posters, public presentations, and the TPWD web site.
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