Lake Fork - 2015 Survey Report
Prepared by Kevin W. Storey
Inland Fisheries Division – Tyler North District
This is the authors' summary from a 38-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Fish populations in Lake Fork were surveyed in 2014, 2015 and 2016 using electrofishing, and in 2016 using gill netting. Anglers were surveyed with an access point creel survey from June 2014 to May 2015 and from June 2015 to May 2016. Historical data are presented with the 2014-2016 data for comparison. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Lake Fork is a 27,264-acre impoundment located on Lake Fork Creek, a tributary of the Sabine River, approximately five miles northwest of Quitman, Texas and approximately 70 miles east of Dallas, Texas.
Important sport fishes include Largemouth Bass, crappies (White and Black), and Channel Catfish. The management plan from the 2014 survey report included continued stocking of Florida Largemouth Bass (FLMB). The 16- to 24-inch slot-length limit continues to be evaluated through annual electrofishing surveys, and an access creel survey. In November 2015, 3.25 acres of giant salvinia was documented in Chaney Branch. Subsequent control actions have included closing boat ramps, installing oil-spill boom across the cove to inhibit spread of plants, physical removal, and several chemical treatments. By May 2016 significant progress had been made in reducing the coverage of giant salvinia and no additional infestations were detected in the reservoir. Water hyacinth abundance and distribution has been monitored through annual vegetation surveys. Increasing reservoir elevations in 2015 have facilitated germination of water hyacinth seed stock in the hydrosoil which will necessitate chemical treatment.
- Prey species: Abundant shad (Threadfin and Gizzard) and sunfish populations were the primary prey for sport fishes. Size structure of prey populations was suitable size for most predators.
- Catfishes: Catfishes are an important species group sought by anglers at Lake Fork. Channel Catfish are the dominant species in gill net sampling and in creel surveys, although Flathead Catfish, Blue Catfish, and Yellow Bullheads are also present. The majority of Channel Catfish collected in gill nets were large enough to be legally retained.
- Temperate basses: White Bass, Yellow Bass, White x Yellow Bass hybrids, and Palmetto Bass were all present in the reservoir. The White Bass population has become more abundant as evidenced by periodic increases in gill net catches, harvest in creel surveys, and increased directed fishing effort. Yellow Bass harvest was also observed during creel surveys.
- Largemouth bass: Largemouth Bass are the most popular game fish in Lake Fork, accounting for the majority of total angler effort. Catch rates in the most recent fall and spring samples have increased in response to improvements in available aquatic habitat.
- Crappies: Crappies continue to be an important component to the overall fishery, typically ranking second in total directed angler effort. However, in 2015-2016, directed angler effort for crappies tapered slightly and crappies were the third most sought species group. Despite fluctuations in directed effort, total harvest remained high.
Annual actions include: stocking FLMB; spring and fall electrofishing to monitor the Largemouth Bass population, an access point creel survey to monitor angler effort, catch, and harvest rates; annual vegetation surveys of giant salvinia and water hyacinth to monitor distribution and abundance.
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