Abilene Reservoir - 2015 Survey Report
Prepared by Michael D. Homer and Natalie Goldstrohm
Inland Fisheries Division – Abilene District
This is the authors' summary from a 12-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Fish populations in Abilene Reservoir were not surveyed from 2015-2016 because of extreme prolonged drought conditions. This report contains a management plan for the reservoir.
Abilene Reservoir is a 640-acre impoundment constructed on Elm Creek in the Brazos River Basin, and it is approximately 18 miles southwest of Abilene, Texas. The reservoir’s primary function was recreation, but it has also historically provided some municipal water supply to the City of Abilene. In 2005, operation and control of the reservoir was transferred from the City of Abilene to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) – Abilene State Park. The reservoir has been subject to extreme fluctuations in water level elevation and prolonged droughts. The reservoir went completely dry in spring 2014. Between 2015 and the beginning of 2016, the reservoir had caught nearly eight feet of water. Substantial rainfall in late spring 2016 filled the reservoir to over conservation pool elevation. Both boat ramps were useable as of May 2016.
Blue Catfish, Channel Catfish, and Northern Largemouth Bass were stocked after the prolonged drought in 1998-2001. Florida Largemouth Bass were stocked in 2009. After Abilene State Park took control of the reservoir, harvest regulations for Blue Catfish and Channel Catfish were changed to no minimum length limit and a five-fish daily bag limit in any combination. Fishing was restricted to pole-and-line only. Management stockings of Gizzard Shad and sunfishes were conducted in spring 2016 to repopulate the prey community after the reservoir had gone completely dry and refilled after heavy rains. Following the prey species stockings, Florida Largemouth Bass and Channel Catfish fingerlings were stocked.
In spring 2016, an exploratory electrofishing survey was conducted to see if fishes had washed into the reservoir from other areas within the watershed. Only Green Sunfish and Common Carp were detected during the electrofishing survey. Gizzard Shad, Bluegill, Longear Sunfish, Orangespotted Sunfish, and Florida Largemouth Bass were all stocked in spring 2016.
Prior to 2005, sport fish species were managed with statewide harvest regulations. In 2005, TPWD Abilene State Park assumed control of the reservoir. Blue Catfish and Channel Catfish are managed with no minimum length limit and five-fish daily bag limit (in combination), and fishing is limited to pole-and-line only.
As of May 2016, the reservoir was completely full, and a fisheries recovery plan was implemented through stockings. Stocking success will be evaluated by exploratory sampling. Priority will be to first restore prey species and Largemouth Bass, then White Crappie. Gizzard Shad, Bluegill, and Largemouth Bass fingerlings were stocked in spring 2016, and Fathead Minnows and Channel Catfish fingerlings were stocked in summer 2016. White Crappie will be stocked at least one year following the reestablishment of prey species and Largemouth Bass. Additional monitoring efforts will be conducted at least two years following the reestablishment of forage and sport fish species. Abilene State Park staff will be approached to improve access locations to the reservoir. The public will be educated about the threat of invasive species, including saltcedar.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-221-M-6 Inland Fisheries Division Monitoring and Management Program