Nocona Reservoir - 2003 Survey Report
Prepared by Bruce Hysmith and John H. Moczygemba
Inland Fisheries Division
District 2-A, Pottsboro, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 26-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Nocona Reservoir was surveyed in 2003 with trap nets and electrofisher, and in 2004 with gill nets. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on these findings.
Nocona Reservoir, a 1,201-acre impoundment on Farmers Creek, is located north of Nocona in Montague County. It was constructed for municipal water supply and recreation by the North Montague County Water Supply District in 1961. The reservoir has a drainage area of 94 square miles. Major tributaries include Panther and Polecat Creeks and Barefoot Branch. The shoreline is 23 miles long and has a shoreline development index of 4.5. Approximately 49% of the reservoir is < 15 feet deep. Water level fluctuated approximately 4.0 feet during the period June 2002 through May 2004. The area receives 30 inches mean annual rainfall. There are 3 boat ramps and 3 areas for bank access. There are no facilities specifically for the handicapped and despite the availability of shoreline angling to the physically challenged, handicap access is inadequate.
- Prey species: The current survey confirms what has been shown historically. There has always been an abundance of prey species in this reservoir. The electrofishing catch rate of gizzard shad (177.0/hour) was below 362.0/hour collected in 1999, but exceeded the district average of 173.7/hour for 2003. The Index of Vulnerability (IOV, DiCenzo et al. 1996) was 24. In 1999 IOV was 66. The electrofishing catch rate for bluegill (100.0/hour) increased over previous electrofishing catch rates, but was below the district average (146.7/hour) for 2003. An estimated 77% of the bluegill sample population was < 4 inches total length (TL), which provides an excellent prey base. After years of attempting to establish threadfin shad in this reservoir, we finally were successful. Approximately 1,290 adults were collected from Texoma Reservoir and transported to Nocona Reservoir in the spring of 2003. The electrofishing catch rate of 138.0/hour indicated a reproducing population. Since threadfin shad are typically <4 inches TL, we feel they will make up for the decline in small gizzard shad.
- Catfishes: Blue catfish were probably established in Nocona Reservoir by migrating from the Red River to Farmers Creek prior to impoundment. The gill net catch rate of 1.4/net night in 2004 indicated a decrease in abundance over previous surveys. It was, however, equal to the gill net catch of blue catfish in the district during 2004. There was evidence of natural reproduction and recruitment of young fish. The sample population was made up of 71 % legal fish (> 12 inches TL). Relative weights varied from 70 to 90. Historically, channel catfish have not been collected in abundance in gill nets in Nocona Reservoir. However, the gill net catch rate of channel catfish (5.0/net night) in 2004 was the highest catch rate on record. While it indicated a dramatic increase in abundance, it was slightly below the district average of 5.4/net night for 2004. The sample population contained 32% legal fish (>12 inches TL). Successful reproduction was indicated by the abundance of small fish. Relative weights varied between 85 and 100.
- Temperate bass: The presence of white bass has been documented in Nocona Reservoir since 1982 (Hysmith et al. 1983). The gill netting catch rate of white bass has been fairly stable since 1996. The catch rate (1.4/net night) for 2004 was above the district average of 1.2/net night. No legal-size fish were collected in 2004.
Relative weights were around 80. No palmetto bass were collected in 2004. The gill netting catch rate in 1999 was 13.2/net night. They have not been stocked since 1997.
- Largemouth bass: Nocona Reservoir has a reputation among local anglers for producing big largemouth bass. However, in 2003 only 7% of the sample population was > 14 inches TL compared to 24% in 1999. The electrofishing catch rate (70.0/hour) in 2003 was below the electrofishing catch rate of 80.0/hour in 1999 and below the district average (82.0/hour) for 2003. Improving the largemouth bass population through genetic intergradation between Florida largemouth bass (FLMB) and native largemouth bass has been successful as indicated by consistent percent FLMB alleles from 1999 to 2003, (63.2. and 63.3%, respectively). The sample population contained an estimated 20% pure FLMB genotype, which is close to the 26.4% of 1999. Relative weights for > 14-inch fish was 100 and for fish < 14 inches they varied around 85. Largemouth bass in this reservoir grew to 14 inches TL in about 3 years. Growth among older largemouth bass tended to be slower than largemouth bass of the same age in other reservoirs in Ecological Region 5.
- White crappie: Nocona Reservoir produces some of the highest trap netting catch rates of white crappie in the district. The current catch rate of white crappie was 17.8/net night, a slight increase from 16.0/net night in 1999. The catch rate was also higher than the district average of 12.5/net night for 2003 and placed Nocona Reservoir in the number two ranking for white crappie abundance in district reservoirs. In 2003, 45.0% of the sample population was > 10 inches TL. Relative weights varied from 70 to 90. White crappie grew to 10 inches in 2.5 years and growth was faster than the average growth for white crappie in Ecological Region 5 reservoirs.
Based on current information, Nocona reservoir should continue to be managed with existing fish harvest regulations. Limited handicap facilities, restrooms, and outdoor lighting will be brought to the attention of the controlling authority in a briefing later this year. In addition, we will research funding sources for access and facilities and handicap facilities. Concerns associated with the blue catfish and largemouth bass population estimates will be addressed by supplemental gill netting and electrofishing. Finally, we recommend updating Nocona Reservoir (Lake Nocona) web page on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department web site with appropriate information as needed.
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