Lake Tyler West - 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 West 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 West is a 2,224-acre reservoir on Prairie Creek, Texas, a tributary of the Angelina River, and lies in the Angelina River watershed. It was built to provide water for municipal and industrial purposes. Boat and bank access are adequate. Although facilities are generally accessible to the handicapped, none of the facilities provided are specifically marked as ADA approved. Littoral habitat in the lower two thirds of the reservoir consists mainly of featureless shoreline, boat docks, and bulkhead. Littoral habitat is better in the upper third of the reservoir (above City of Tyler water intake). Native emergent vegetation (primarily maiden-cane) occupies 44% of the shoreline (28.7 acres). Native floating vegetation (spatterdock and white water-lily) is present along 16% of the shoreline (44.7 acres). Hydrilla has declined in area from 70 acres recorded in 1996 to 0 acres in August 2003. Native submersed vegetation (primarily stonewort and pondweed) occupied only 4.2 surface acres.
- Prey species: Sunfishes (bluegill, redear sunfish, and redbreast sunfish) were the dominant prey in Lake Tyler West. Sunfish relative abundance (648 fish/hr) in 2003 was greater than in 2001 (485 fish/hr). Electrofishing catch rate of threadfin shad (423 fish/hr) was approximately four times greater in 2003 than in previous years. Gizzard shad were also present but in low abundance. Most prey fish species were of a size (< 4 inches) that would be available to predators in Lake Tyler West.
- Catfishes: Lake Tyler West supports a low-density channel catfish population with poor natural recruitment. Total gill net catch rate of channel catfish (4.6 fish/net night) was higher in 2004 than in previous years; however, all individuals collected were of legal length (> 12 inches). Survival of young catfish in Lake Tyler is thought to be limited, in part, due to an abundant predator population (namely largemouth bass). Of the adult fish that were captured, most exhibited good body condition (Wr > 90) and historical growth rates have been rapid (Bonds and Ott 2000). These growth and condition characteristics are typical for a low-density catfish population. Results indicate that legal-size channel catfish are available to anglers fishing Lake Tyler West. Channel catfish as long as 26 inches were captured in 2004 surveys. To address the problem of poor catfish recruitment, TPWD and the City of Tyler have joined in a cooperative effort to raise and stock advanced-size channel catfish (9 to 12 inches) in the reservoir. Attempts will be made to stock these larger fish, on an annual basis, beginning in 2004. These stocking efforts should also benefit Lake Tyler East; a neighboring reservoir that is interconnected with Lake Tyler West. Blue catfish were stocked in Lake Tyler West in 1975 but none have been captured in subsequent gill net surveys. Factors that are thought to limit channel catfish recruitment in Lake Tyler West may also limit blue catfish recruitment.
- Black basses: Lake Tyler West has shown the 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 in 1997 and 1998. These stockings have successfully established and maintained Florida bass genes in the population. The percent Florida Bass alleles increased substantially from 9% in 1996 (pre-stocking) to 43 % in 2003. The percentage of pure Florida bass has continued to increase from 3% in 2001 to 7% in 2003. Electrofishing catch rate of stock size largemouth bass (43 fish/hour) was similar to that found in previous years. Overall catch rate (88 fish/hr) was similar to that in 1993, 1996, and 1999 but is below the unusually high catch rate (212 fish/hr) observed in 2001. Proportional stock density (PSD) was 33, slightly below the target range of 40-70. Mean relative weight (Wr) was 95 or above for most size classes and was indicative of adequate prey availability. Growth rates were excellent with most fish reaching minimum legal length (14 inches) during their third growing season.
- Crappie: Both white crappie and black crappie were collected in 2003. Trap net catch rate of white crappie (2.2 fish/net-night) in 2003 was lower than in 1999 (4.0 fish/net night) but was equivalent to that in 1996. Black crappie catch rate (2.0/net-night) was 3 times higher in 2003 than in 1996 or 1999 (0.6 fish/net-night). Catch rate of both species combined was similar to that in previous years and size distribution remains acceptable. Legal-length (>10 inch) fish accounted for 41% of all crappie sampled. Mean Wr of legal-length crappie was below optimal for both species, but may improve due to the increased availability of threadfin shad noted in fall 2003. Growth of both species was very good with most individuals reaching harvestable length during their third growing season.
- Based on current information, Lake Tyler West fishing regulations should be maintained at their current status.
- Success of the cooperative effort between TPWD and the City of Tyler to produce advance-size channel catfish should be evaluated in 2004 and modified as necessary.
- Because of the importance of the reservoir’s largemouth bass fishery, biennial electrofishing 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 internet 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