Lake Palestine - 2013 Survey Report
Prepared by Richard A. Ott and Jacob D. Norman
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-C, Tyler, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 40-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Fish populations in Lake Palestine were surveyed in 2013 using electrofishing and trap netting and in 2014 using gill netting. Anglers were surveyed from June 2013 through May 2014 with a creel survey. Historical data are presented with the 2013-2014 data for comparison. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir.
Lake Palestine is a 23,434-acre reservoir on the Neches River, Texas, built to provide water for municipal and industrial purposes, and recreation. Boat access is adequate, but public bank angler access is limited to public boat ramps or at bridge crossings (where parking is limited). None of the public boat ramps have facilities marked as handicap-specific, but the courtesy pier nearest the dam has guard rails making wheelchair accessibility possible. Overall coverage of submersed aquatic vegetation remains approximately 1%. No nuisance levels of exotic species were detected.
Important sport fishes include Blue, Channel, and Flathead Catfishes; Largemouth Bass; White Crappie and Black Crappie; White bass; and Palmetto Bass (White x Striped Bass). Florida Largemouth Bass stockings were conducted during 2008-2009 and again 2012-2013. Palmetto Bass stockings were conducted (at some level) most years since 2002. A revised Blue and Channel Catfish harvest regulation allowing 50 fish per day (of which no more than 5 could be greater than 20 inches) replaced the statewide regulation in September 2011. An aquatic vegetation introduction program was implemented in 2012; monitoring and maintenance continues annually.
- Prey species: Threadfin Shad and Gizzard Shad were abundant and represented the dominant prey items. Bluegill and Redear Sunfish <4 inches provided a supplemental prey source and their relative abundances increased over the previous survey.
- Catfishes: Blue and Channel Catfishes continued to be the most sought after species group of all sport fishes at Lake Palestine. Angler catch rate of both species was high but overall effort has declined. There is evidence that anglers are taking advantage of the liberalized harvest regulation, but Channel Catfish size distribution continues to be poor. Size distribution of Blue Catfish continued to be better than Channel Catfish and abundance is very good. However, rodand- reel harvest of Blue Catfish was approximately 20% that of Channel Catfish.
- Temperate basses: Directed angling effort toward temperate basses continued to be low. Abundance of White Bass was substantially higher compared to previous surveys but Palmetto Bass abundance remained low, a consequence of low stocking rates.
- Black basses: Black basses were the second most sought after species group and competitive angling represents 44% of the effort for this group. Largemouth Bass abundance was higher than previous surveys but size distribution was dominated by fish less than legal length, evidence of a strong 2013 year class. Body condition and growth rate were good.
- Crappies: Directed angler effort for crappies has declined and likely reflects poor weather conditions in spring 2014. Trap net catch rates of White and Black Crappie were higher than 2009 but slightly lower than 2005. Body condition was good for both species and growth of Black Crappie was rapid.
- Conduct fall electrofishing in 2015 to assess Largemouth Bass population parameters and Florida Largemouth Bass genetics.
- Conduct additional gill netting in 2016 to monitor catfish population dynamics.
- Promote Blue Catfish angling opportunities.
- Continue requesting annual stockings of Palmetto Bass.
- Maintain Lake Palestine aquatic habitat enhancement structures.
- Continue monitoring invasive exotic species as necessary.
- A special study to evaluate exploitation rate and population dynamics of Flathead Catfish is currently underway.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-221-M-4 Inland Fisheries Division Monitoring and Management Program