Millers Creek Reservoir - 2003 Survey Report
Prepared by Robert Mauk and Mark Howell
Inland Fisheries Division
District 2-E, Wichita Falls, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 30-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Millers Creek Reservoir was surveyed in 2003-04 using electrofishing, gill netting and trap netting. A physical habitat survey and six-month creel survey were also conducted. All netting and electrofishing was conducted using random sites. The 2003-04 catch per unit effort (CPUE) for species in this summary were compared with catch rates from previous Millers Creek surveys during the period 1996-2002. This report summarizes the 2003-04 surveys and contains a management plan based on those findings.
Millers Creek is a 1,794-acre municipal water supply reservoir owned and operated by the North Central Texas Municipal Water Authority in Munday, Texas. The reservoir is on the Baylor and Throckmorton county line, with the dam located in Baylor County. The dam was completed in 1974, impounding Millers Creek a tributary to the Brazos River. The reservoir has a substantial area of rocky shoreline with some standing timber. Shoreline and boat access are adequate, including limited handicapped access at normal pool levels. Conservation pool elevation is 1,331 feet above mean sea level (MSL). The improved boat ramp is useable at elevations above 1,322 MSL.
- Prey species: Gizzard shad electrofishing CPUE was 940.0/hr, far exceeding the district average of 277.7/hr and higher than previous surveys. The index of vulnerability (IOV; DiCenzo et al. 1996) was 93 during the 2003 electrofishing survey and has ranged from 93-96 the last three sampling periods. The IOV in combination with the high CPUE of gizzard shad indicated that abundant forage size gizzard shad existed providing a more than adequate prey base. Bluegill electrofishing catch rate was 120.0/hr, which was also above the district average of 82.5/hr and the reservoir average of 101.2/hr. Sizes ranged from 1- to 6-inches in length indicating that many of the bluegill were vulnerable to predation. Threadfin shad were documented in the reservoir for the first time in 2003. Four individuals were collected in trap nets in the fall of 2003. These may have been introduced while being used as bait by anglers.
- Catfishes: Blue, channel and flathead catfish all provide fishing opportunities for Millers Creek anglers. There was evidence of this during the creel survey (June through November 2003) when 39.1% of the anglers were targeting catfish and channel catfish were the second most harvested species. In 2004, the blue catfish gill net catch rate was 25.0/net night, which was much higher than the 2002 (3.1/net night) and 1999 (2.0/net night) surveys. Blue catfish were reproducing well at Millers Creek. The 2004 catch rate was also much higher than the district average of 5.1/net night. Catch rate of legal size (>12 inches) blue catfish was 10.6/net night. Channel catfish gill net catch rates were down slightly in 2004 (1.2/net night) from the previous surveys. The catch rate was also slightly below the district average of 2.0/net night. Two flathead catfish were sampled by gill nets in 2004, a sample size too small for meaningful analysis and discussion. It is known that flathead catfish continue to provide a viable fishery as evidenced by discussions with anglers, photos, and creel survey information (Appendix D).
- Temperate basses: Gill net CPUE for white bass was down sharply at 2.8/net night compared to 11.8/net night in 2002. The 2004 catch rate was also below the district average of 6.9/net night. While the catch rate was down, the creel survey (June through November 2003) identified white bass as the most harvested species. The palmetto bass (hybrid striped bass) gill net CPUE was also down (1.4/net night) compared to the 2002 survey (3.5/net night). The 2002 gill net survey was comprised of adult palmetto bass ranging in size from 18- to 27-inches with many being 7 and 8 years old. The 2004 survey found mostly sub-legal fish. It is unclear if the older fish from 2002 were harvested (the fishery was publicized after the 2002 survey and fishing effort reportedly increased after nearby reservoirs suffered golden alga blooms), if they suffered natural mortality, or were not sampled adequately in the 2004 gill net survey. Palmetto bass growth rates during 2002 were slightly below the regional average.
- Largemouth bass: The 2003 electrofishing CPUE for largemouth bass of 76.0/hr was higher than the previous 1999 survey when 40.0/hr were sampled and also above the district average of 46.5/hr. Size structure, relative weights, and growth rates are all within desirable ranges. Growth rates remained slightly higher than the ecological region average. Florida largemouth bass genetic introgression was adequate with young-of-the-year bass exhibiting a 37.9% Florida largemouth bass allele frequency of which 3.4% of the sample were pure Florida bass. During the June-November 2003 creel survey, 13.3% of the anglers were targeting largemouth bass.
- White crappie: The 2003 trap net catch rate of 60.7/net night was more than double the previous survey in 1999 (24.7/net night) and the district average of 29.4/net night. The 2003 sample showed desirable numbers (5.8 net/night) of legal size crappie. Growth rates continued to exceed the ecological region average. White crappie were the most sought after species for the September-November portion of the creel survey and had the highest catch rate for the entire creel survey which included the release of sublegal fish.
The six-month (June-November 2003) creel survey results indicated that angling regulation compliance was adequate as evidenced by the harvest observations. Only one sub-legal fish was observed during the survey and that was a palmetto bass being identified as a white bass. Estimates of total trip expenditures during the creel survey were $54,123.00 and reported expenditures averaged $22.02 per angler. While about 50% of the surveyed anglers were from the immediate four counties surrounding Millers Creek, 20% were from the Lubbock metropolitan area, which is 140 miles away.
Based on current information, this reservoir should continue to be managed with existing regulations. An abundant gizzard shad population should continue to provide ample forage for future palmetto bass stockings. Based on conversations with the controlling authority, concessionaire, and anglers; acceptance of hybrid stockings has been well received, though directed effort during this creel was low (1.4%). Continued every other year stockings at the rate of 10 per acre are recommended.
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