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State Fish of Texas Stocked on Guadalupe River
INGRAM, Texas — Ongoing efforts by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to restore the State Fish of Texas to its status as reigning native fish of Texas Hill Country waters took a major step with the recent stocking of tens of thousands of Guadalupe bass fingerlings.
Close to 100,000 fingerlings of the feisty sport fish (Micropterus treculii) obtained from TPWD’s Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center in Ingram and the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service hatchery in Uvalde were released into the upper reaches of the Guadalupe River in western Kerr County last week. The stocking effort to save the Texas State Fish is part of a five-year Guadalupe Bass Restoration Initiative being undertaken by TPWD and the Upper Guadalupe River Authority, with support from the Hill Country Fly Fishers and other partners.
“A healthy population of Guadalupe bass not only provides a recreational resource for anglers, but also emphasizes the quality of the rivers and streams in which it lives,” said Gary Garrett, Ph.D., who heads up the project at the Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center. “This project will assure the Guadalupe bass’s survival in the Guadalupe, and raise awareness of the unique value of this valuable natural resource.”
Designated by Texas lawmakers in 1989 as the State Fish of Texas, the Guadalupe bass is native to the streams of the Guadalupe, San Antonio, Colorado and Brazos river systems.
For the past 15 years, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been reintroducing the Guadalupe bass to Hill Country streams feeding into the Guadalupe River in an effort to overcome non-native smallmouth bass populations with which the state fish has hybridized. Genetic contamination is one of the factors that have led to the decline of Guadalupe bass.
Research efforts to restore the Guadalupe bass in Johnson Creek have reduced the number of hybrids from 30 percent to 3 percent, according to Garrett. Last year, TPWD expanded the research program throughout the Guadalupe River headwaters, adding 58,000 fingerlings.
The recent stocking at Schumacher’s Crossing on the Guadalupe River near Hunt is part of a five-year initiative with the goal of stocking 225,000 pure-strain Guadalupe bass fingerlings each year. The Upper Guadalupe River Authority is seeking to secure funds to support the effort to stock the native sport fish.
For more information about the Guadalupe bass restoration project, contact Gary Garrett at Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center in Ingram at (830) 866-3356, ext. 212.
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