Lake Athens - 2013 Survey Report
Prepared by Jacob D. Norman and Richard A. Ott, Jr.
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-C, Tyler, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 33-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
The Lake Athens fish community was surveyed from June 2013 through May 2014 using electrofishing and gill netting. Anglers were surveyed from March 2014 through May 2014 with a creel survey. A vegetation survey was conducted in August 2013. Historical data are presented with the 2013-2014 data for comparison. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Lake Athens is a 1,799-acre reservoir on Flat Creek, a tributary of the Neches River, Texas, built for water supply and recreation. Boat access is adequate, but public bank angling access is limited to the marina area and at bridge crossings where parking is limited. There are no handicap-specific facilities but the convenience pier at the marina allows limited wheelchair use. The reservoir contains a diverse aquatic plant community.
Important sport fishes include sunfishes, Largemouth Bass, White Bass, Channel Catfish, and Black Crappie. The length limit for Largemouth Bass was changed in 1996 from the statewide 14-inch minimum length to a 14- to 21-inch slot-length limit. Monitoring of the Largemouth Bass growth rate has continued. Boat access and angling access are available and improvements have been recommended, but not implemented. Invasive aquatic plant species, hydrilla, waterhyacinth, and alligatorweed have been present in the system and are under management by the controlling authority.
- Prey species: Threadfin Shad are present in the reservoir. Electrofishing catch rate of Gizzard Shad remained low, and few Gizzard Shad were available as prey to most sport fish. Despite low Shad catch rates, sunfish (≤4 inches) provide an adequate prey base for sport fishes.
- Catfishes: Channel Catfish gill net catch rates remained relatively low; however, catch rates were slightly higher than in the 2010 survey. Low and variable catch rates suggest limited production and recruitment.
- Temperate basses: White Bass were present in the reservoir, although gill net catch rates remain low.
- Largemouth bass: Largemouth Bass continue to be the dominant game species within Lake Athens and catch rates have been relatively high over the last two surveys. Size distribution remains favorable and growth up to and within the slot remain moderate. Genetic analysis revealed adequate frequency of Florida Largemouth Bass alleles in the population, and have remained stable over recent surveys. Two ShareLunkers (Largemouth Bass > 13 lbs.) were caught from lake Athens over the last season (October 2013 – April 2014), indicating the trophy potential of the reservoir.
- Crappie: White and Black Crappie are present within the reservoir and are occasionally seen during fall electrofishing; however, trap net catch rates have been too variable to accurately assess the population and have not been conducted during the last two management reports (2009, 2013).
Largemouth Bass are of high importance in this system; therefore additional monitoring of size distribution and abundance will be conducted in fall 2015. Standard sampling conducted in the fall of 2017 will continue to monitor these population trends, and provide additional population characteristics (e.g. growth within the slot). Genetic analysis will be conducted to monitor the allele frequency of the Largemouth Bass population. Channel Catfish and White Bass population structure will continue to be monitored in 2018 through gill netting.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-221-M-4 Inland Fisheries Division Monitoring and Management Program