Brandy Branch Reservoir - 2003 Survey Report
Prepared by Michael J. Ryan and Michael W. Brice
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-A, Marshall, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 20-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Brandy Branch Reservoir was surveyed in 2003-2004 using gill nets, trap nets, and electrofishing to survey the fish community. Aquatic vegetation, angler access, and facilities were also assessed. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Brandy Branch Reservoir is located on Brandy Branch Creek in the Sabine River Basin. It was constructed in 1983 by American Electric Power Company (AEP) as a cooling reservoir for lignite-fueled electric power generation. The reservoir lies within the East Texas Timberlands Land Resource Area. It has a drainage area of approximately 4.1 square miles. Shoreline length is 17 miles. Water levels are relatively stable; average annual fluctuation is < 3 feet. Supplemental water is pumped from Big Cypress Bayou to maintain water levels during periods of low rainfall. Littoral area (water depth less than 15 feet) accounts for 11% of the reservoir. Bank fishing and boating access is adequate but limited to one public park and boat ramp. Structural habitat is comprised of inundated timber, brush, and creek channels (Ryan and Brice 2000). Aquatic macrophytes, primarily hydrilla, occupy 18 % of the basin. A fish consumption advisory (selenium) issued in 1992 by the Texas Department of Health (TDH) was rescinded in the fall of 2003.
- Prey species: Sunfishes, primarily bluegill and redear sunfish, comprise the dominant prey base for piscivores in Brandy Branch Reservoir. Clupeid densities (gizzard and threadfin shad) have historically been low. Both species have been stocked through the early 1990s to increase prey fish diversity. Elevated water temperatures and low natural fertility were factors thought to have repressed clupeid populations. However, gizzard shad were collected with electrofishing gear at a rate of 33.0 fish/hour in 2003. Although catch rates were low, young-of-year and adult gizzard shad were represented in electrofishing samples indicating reproductive success and recruitment. The combined catch rate for sunfish was 565.0 fish/hour; bluegill was the dominant species (540.0 fish/hour). Although sunfishes are available as prey, few individuals > 3 inches are present for large predators. Largemouth bass growth and condition (Wr) indices suggest prey densities are adequate to support predator populations.
- Catfishes: Channel catfish and flathead catfish have not been collected in fish community samples since 1993 (Ryan and Brice 2000). Both species were stocked in the 1980s but recruitment was insufficient to sustain a fishery. Stocking was discontinued following the issuance of a fish consumption advisory in 1992.
- Black bass: Although electrofishing catch rates of largemouth bass have declined in recent years, the relative abundance of stock-size (> 8.0 inches) fish has remained consistent, suggesting stable levels of recruitment. Catch rates (fish/hour) of legal-size largemouth bass (> 14 inches) have ranged from 0.4 fish/hour to 8.0 fish/hour (1993-2003). These catch rates are typical of bass populations in this area that are managed under statewide size and bag limits. Largemouth bass condition (Wr) exceeded 100 for individuals > 12 inches in 2003; an improvement compared to previous years. Increase in densities of < 7-inch gizzard shad may have contributed to the improvement in condition of > 12-inch largemouth bass. Largemouth bass reach legal size (> 14.0 inches) as early as their third growing season. The percentage of Florida largemouth bass alleles in age-0 fish was 100 % in 2003 electrophoresis samples.
- Crappie: Black crappies were collected in gill netting samples at a rate of 0.6 fish/netnight in 2003. Crappies were stocked from 1986 through 1990 (12 to 63 fingerlings/acre) to increase sport fish diversity and angling opportunities but a viable fishery was never established. The stocking program was discontinued during the early 1990s following the issuance of a fish consumption advisory.
Rescinding of the fish consumption advisory by TDH expands management opportunities at Brandy Branch Reservoir. Based on fish community data, the fishery should be managed under current harvest regulations. Channel catfish should be stocked to increase fishing opportunities. The fish community and angler use should be monitored to evaluate effects of applied management efforts. Information should be provided through the media to keep anglers informed about fishing opportunities. Existing facilities are in need of periodic maintenance; the access road, parking lot, boat ramp should be maintained to encourage recreational use of the reservoir by the public. Additionally, a courtesy pier that meets ADA requirements should be installed at the boat ramp.
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