Lake Brazos - 2008 Survey Report
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Prepared by Michael S. Baird and John E. Tibbs
Inland Fisheries Division
District 2-B, Waco, 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.
Fish populations in Lake Brazos were surveyed in 2008 using electrofishing and trap nets and in 2009 using gill nets. This report summarizes survey results and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Lake Brazos is a 523-acre impoundment of the Brazos River located in downtown Waco, McLennan County, Texas. Shoreline fish habitat consisted mainly of emergent aquatic vegetation (e.g., water willow Justicia americana, bulrush Scirpus sp., cattail Typha sp., and giant cane Arundinaria gigantea) and overhanging riparian brush and trees. Bank and boat access on the reservoir are good, and include handicap-friendly facilities such as walkways, picnic shelters, and fishing piers.
Important sport fish include blue catfish, channel catfish, white bass, striped bass, largemouth bass, and white crappie. No previous management strategies or actions exist - as this report represents the first fishery survey to be conducted on Lake Brazos. Fish populations from upper, middle, and lower Brazos River sections were surveyed in the early 90s, but Lake Brazos is only mentioned briefly (Sellers, K. 1994).
The original Lake Brazos dam was completed in 1970, however it never functioned properly. Improvements were made to the structure in 1985 which provided a mechanism to properly control the water level in Lake Brazos, but these modifications were also fraught with problems, and required annual maintenance thereafter. The newly constructed Lake Brazos dam, completed in 2007, should alleviate annual maintenance and de-watering concerns while providing a stable elevation reservoir for fisheries.
- Prey species: Forage species present included gizzard shad, bluegill, longear sunfish, threadfin shad, redear sunfish, and green sunfish in order of decreasing abundance. Catch rates were low for all collected forage species.
- Catfishes: Blue and channel catfish were present in fair numbers and condition during spring 2009. No flathead catfish were observed.
- Temperate basses: Both white and striped bass were present in low numbers during the spring 2009 survey and currently offer limited fishing opportunities.
- Black basses: Largemouth and spotted bass were collected in fall 2008; however smallmouth bass are common in the Brazos River upstream of Lake Brazos. Current catch rates for largemouth bass are among the lowest in the district.
- White crappie: White crappie were collected in fair numbers and condition during winter 2008.
Continue managing Lake Brazos with statewide regulations as this fishery becomes established. Conduct standard monitoring with electrofisher and trap nets in 2012 and gill nets in 2013. Management strategies should include habitat enhancement around bank fishing piers and the eradication of exotic giant cane by 2013.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-30-R-34 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program