Lake Fairfield - 2008 Survey Report
Prepared by Daniel L. Bennett and Richard A. Ott, Jr.
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-C, Tyler, 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.
The Lake Fairfield fish community was surveyed from June 2008 through March 2009 using electrofishing, gill netting, and trap netting. A vegetation survey was conducted in September 2008. An access creel survey, conducted from September 2008 through February 2009, collected angler use and harvest information. This report summarizes results of these surveys and contains a management plan based on those findings.
Lake Fairfield is a 2,034-acre reservoir on Big Brown Creek, Texas, a tributary of the Trinity River, providing cooling water for two 575-megawatt lignite-fired electric generation units. Bank access is adequate and two boat ramps are present, although boat access is limited during low water levels. Giant cane and cattails form a fringe in the littoral zone, around most of the lake. American lotus was present in shallow water (<4 feet deep) in the backs of the coves. Hydrilla was less abundant than in previous years.
Important sport fish include sunfishes, largemouth bass, channel catfish, and red drum. Additional largemouth bass and catfish sampling were conducted every two years. Red drum stockings were conducted annually to support this popular fishery. Access creel surveys were conducted during fall and winter quarters, from September 2008 through February 2009. Fish kills periodically occur in late summer and fall due to low dissolved oxygen levels observed in isolated areas in the reservoir. Three fish kills occurred in 2008, and the number and value of fish were estimated for two of those events. The estimated number of fish killed in the two fish kills was 121,570 fish, with an estimated value of $1,179,878.49 (Appendix B).
- Prey species:Threadfin shad and gizzard shad are present in the reservoir and electrofishing catch rates were higher than in previous surveys. Redear and bluegill sunfishes <4 inches also provide adequate prey for sport fishes.
- Catfishes: The channel catfish population primarily consists of large adult fish. Little directed angling effort was observed in fall and winter creel surveys although an important fishery has been reported by state park staff and guides.
- Largemouth bass: Largemouth bass were the second most sought after species by anglers at Lake Fairfield during fall and winter quarters. Electrofishing catch rate of stock size fish remained consistent and size distribution is within the target range. Body condition of largemouth bass remained good for all size classes.
- Crappie: Black crappie were present in Lake Fairfield, although they do not provide a substantial fishery. No crappie were collected in trap nets in 2009.
- Red drum: Red drum were abundant in the reservoir as gill net catch rates increased to a historical high. Red drum was the most popular sport fishery at Lake Fairfield during the fall/winter creel survey period.
- Blue tilapia: Blue tilapia are a prohibited exotic species likely introduced in Lake Fairfield by anglers. Tilapia are harvested primarily by cast netting, and provide a substantial food fishery at Lake Fairfield. Tilapia are abundant due to elevated water temperatures in winter.
- Conduct fall electrofishing in 2010 to assess largemouth bass population parameters and Florida largemouth bass genetics.
- Conduct gill netting in 2011 to access red drum population parameters.
- Promote Lake Fairfield angling opportunities by way of news releases.
- Continue annual stockings of red drum to maintain fishery.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-30-R-34 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program