Lake Findley - 2004 Survey Report
Prepared by John Findeisen and Aaron Walters
Inland Fisheries Division
District 1-E, Mathis, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 28-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Lake Findley (formerly Alice City Lake) was surveyed in fall 2004 using trap nets and electrofishing and spring 2005 using gill nets. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Lake Findley is a 288-acre reservoir located on Chiltipin Creek, in the San Fernando Creek Basin, one mile north of Alice. It receives water from Chiltipin Creek and from Lake Corpus Christi via pipeline, and is used for water supply and recreation. Shoreline access is adequate, while handicap and boat access are inadequate. The lake is shallow and turbid. Substrate is composed primarily of small rock, clay, sand, and silt. Littoral habitat consists of periodically flooded terrestrial vegetation, timber, and deadfalls.
In 1998, the City of Alice began introducing native aquatic vegetation as mitigation for a 1996 fish kill. Survival rates of the native aquatic vegetation have been highly variable due to water level fluctuations. In 2002, water stargrass and American pondweed were abundant throughout the low end of the reservoir. However, by 2004 these species were non-existent. Emergent species, bulltongue and pickerel weed have established and spread beyond the planting sites. Floating-leaved species, white water lily and spatterdock have established and spread throughout the reservoir.
The reservoir can fluctuate as much as 3 feet as a result of inflows and usage by the City of Alice. After a fish kill in May 1998, the City of Alice agreed to try to maintain the water level at approximately 192.0 ft MSL. Since May 1998 there have been four additional fish kills in the reservoir. These fish kills occur from late spring through the summer, shortly after the City of Alice begins pumping water via pipelines from Lake Corpus Christi. Approximately 26 acre-feet of water (~3.5% of the volume of Lake Findley) can remain in the two, 30-mile pipelines for extended periods of time, becoming anoxic. When the pipelines are opened, the fish respond to the flow by swimming up the canal into the anoxic water, resulting in a fish kill.
- Prey species: The 2004 electrofishing catch rate for gizzard shad and threadfin shad was 25.0/h and 48.0/h, respectively. Gizzard shad catch rates were lower than the catch rates, 107.0/h (2000) and 147.0/h (2002), observed during the two previous sampling surveys. Threadfin shad catch rates were between 6.0/h (2000) and 78.0/h (2002). The Index of Vulnerability (IOV) for gizzard shad was 100, indicating that all of the gizzard shad collected were less than 8 inches and vulnerable to predation. The 2004 electrofishing catch rate for bluegill was 135.0/h, between 54.0/h (2000) and 282.0/h (2002) catch rates. Size range of bluegill indicated good availability to existing predators. Bluegill do not provide a fishery in this reservoir as few fish reach quality size.
- Blue catfish: Although not stocked by TPWD, blue catfish were first collected from the reservoir in fall 2004. These fish were collected during the electrofishing survey (N=3) and the trap net survey (N=1). No blue catfish were collected during the spring 2005 gill net survey.
- Channel catfish: The 2005 gill net catch rate for channel catfish was 0.6/net night (NN), similar to previous years. These low gill net catch rates may be a result other fish species, such as smallmouth buffalo, tangling the net. Channel catfish counts from fish kills suggest the population is larger than indicated by gill net surveys.
- Palmetto bass: No palmetto bass were collected in gill nets in 2005, indicating the prior population is small or no longer exists.
- Largemouth bass: The 2004 electrofishing catch rate for largemouth bass was 12.0/h, similar to previous years. Low catch rates of largemouth bass in Lake Findley may be due to the frequent water level fluctuations, resulting in the loss of spawning and juvenile habitat. Condition of stock size or greater fish was excellent; mean relative weights averaged above 100. Largemouth bass appear to have ample forage to rapidly grow to the 14-inch minimum length limit and maintain good body condition.
- White crappie: The 2004 trap net catch rate for white crappie was 23.8/NN, similar to previous years. Growth rate of white crappie was very good, as mean age at the 10-inch minimum length limit was 1.9. Condition of stock size or greater fish was good; mean relative weights averaged near 100.
- Black crappie: Trap net catch rates for black crappie were 2.2/NN, similar to previous years. Condition of stock size fish was good; mean relative weights averaged near 100. Black crappie appear to have ample forage to reach legal size rapidly and maintain a good body condition.
- Based on current information, the reservoir should continue to be managed with existing regulations.
- Fish kills have plagued Lake Findley in recent years. Currently, the City of Alice is conducting a project to mitigate these kills, which may alleviate the problem. District staff will assist the City with both the design of a fish barrier to prevent fish from entering the canal and the design of weir dams to eliminate water quality problems. District staff will coordinate water quality monitoring during future pipeline releases.
- Change the four-year sampling rotation for the reservoir from electrofishing and trap netting every other year to once every four years, in order to increase sampling effort on other district lakes.
- There has been substantial personnel turnover within the management of the City of Alice. The new management has expressed interest in constructing a boat ramp and also improving the reservoir and its surrounding park. District staff will work with staff from the City of Alice on both the TPWD boat ramp grant program and maintaining a more stable water level.
- Despite low electrofishing catch rates, threadfin and gizzard shad are abundant in the reservoir as evidenced through trap net surveys and fish kills. Palmetto bass stocked in 1997 and 1998, recruited to legal size by age three and provided anglers with an additional sportfish species.
- Resume stocking palmetto bass at a rate of 10 per acre once the mitigation project is completed.
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