Weatherford Reservoir - 2003 Survey Report
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Prepared by Bruce Hysmith and John H. Moczygemba
Inland Fisheries Division
District 2-A, Pottsboro, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 24-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Weatherford Reservoir was surveyed in 2003 with trap nets and electrofisher, and in 2004 with gill nets. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on these findings.
Weatherford Reservoir, a 1,154-acre impoundment on the Clear Fork Trinity River, is located northeast of Weatherford in Parker County. It was constructed in 1957 by the City of Weatherford for municipal and industrial uses. Current uses include steam electric generating plant cooling and recreation. The reservoir has a drainage area of approximately 109 square miles, a shoreline length of 6 miles, and a shoreline development index of 1.3. Approximately 45% of the reservoir is < 15 feet deep. Water level fluctuated approximately six feet during the period June 2002 through May 2004. Rainfall in the watershed averages 31 inches a year. There is one public boat ramp with boarding pier, lighted parking, and restrooms. Bank access is available in three areas. There are no handicap facilities, only unimproved shoreline is handicap accessible.
- Prey species: The current survey confirms what has been show historically. There has always been an abundance of prey species in this reservoir. The electrofishing catch rate of gizzard shad was 217.0/hour, which was higher than the district average for 2003 (173.7/hour). The Index of Vulnerability (IOV, DiCenzo et al. 1996) for gizzard shad was 74. The electrofishing catch rate for bluegill (314.0/hour) was much higher than the district average for 2003 (179.0/hour). The majority of bluegill was the 1- to 4-inch group, which makes them ideal prey. Except for 1996, threadfin shad have always been represented by a high electrofishing catch rate. The current catch rate for threadfin shad was 151.0/hour. Since this species seldom exceeds 5 inches total length (TL) and this population was not an exception, most of the population was vulnerable to predation. The current electrofishing catch rate for longear sunfish was 310.0/hour. Most of the sample population was < 4 inches TL.
- Catfishes: The gill netting catch rate of channel catfish in 2004 (5.8/net night) has decreased from 1999 (7.4/net night), but was higher than the district average for 2004 (5.4/net night). We do not feel the decline in channel catfish catch rate from 1996 to 2004 is cause for concern since the channel catfish population in this reservoir has historically fluctuated in numbers (see Appendix D, 1989, 1993, and 1996). The sample population contained 17% legal fish (> 12 inches TL) compared to 59% in 1999. Relative weights were good ranging from 90 to 120.
- White bass: The gill netting catch rate of white bass for 2004 (0.4/net night) was lower than in previous years and lower than the district average of 1.2/net night for 2004. White bass catch rate has continued to decline drastically since 1996, giving Weatherford Reservoir the lowest white bass population in the district. Originally found only in Caddo Lake in east Texas (Kemp 1971), white bass did not appear in Weatherford Reservoir until 1993. There is no record of a white bass introduction by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).
- Largemouth bass: The electrofishing catch rate of largemouth bass in 2003 (91.0/hour) has declined since 1999 (158.0/hour), but is above the district average of 82.0/hour for this time period. Less than 6% of the sample population was > 14 inches TL. Historically the largemouth bass population in Weatherford Reservoir has been dominated by small fish. An attempt to alter this situation with a 14- to 18-inch slot length limit from 1993 until 1999 was unsuccessful. There are, however, large fish in the reservoir. We collected 5 largemouth bass > 14 inches TL, two of which were 21 and 23 inches TL. The 23-inch bass was the largest ever collected. Florida largemouth bass (FLMB) genotype continues to increase despite being last supplemented by stocking of FLMB fingerlings in 1997. Electrophoretic analyses in 2003 indicated 58.3% FLMB alleles and 10.0% pure FLMB. This represents an increase from 41.9% FLMB alleles and 7.5% pure FLMB in 1999. Recruitment of YOY and yearlings appeared to be successful. Largemouth bass grew to legal size in a little over 2 years and growth of all year classes surpassed their counterparts in Ecological Region 5.
- White crappie: The white crappie population was dominated by fish > 10 inches TL in 2003, representing an estimated 82% of the white crappie sample. In 1999, 78% were > 10 inches TL. The trap netting catch rate in 2003 (11.0/net night) almost doubled the 1999 catch rate (6.4/net night), but was just below the district average of 12.0/net night for 2003. We consider the white crappie population to be much improved since 1996 when there were no 10-inch fish in the sample population and the trap netting catch rate was 1.5/net night. White crappie grew 10 inches TL in 1 year. Growth of all year classes surpasses their counterparts in other Ecological Region 5 reservoirs.
Based on current information, Weatherford Reservoir should continue to be managed with existing fish harvest regulations. Weatherford Reservoir tops the list of reservoirs in our district for the percent of > 10-inch fish and ranks 7th in white crappie catch rate. We recommend promoting this fishery through news releases and public presentations to local civic and fishing groups. Handicap access is poor and we will be recommending remedial action to the City of Weatherford. Finally, we recommend updating the Weatherford Reservoir (Lake Weatherford) web page on the TPWD web site with appropriate information as needed.
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