Palo Pinto Reservoir - 2011 Survey Report
Prepared by Robert Mauk
Inland Fisheries Division
District 2-E, Wichita Falls, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 25-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Fish populations in Palo Pinto Reservoir were surveyed with trap nets and electrofishing in 2011 and with gill nets in 2012. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Palo Pinto Reservoir is a 2,399-acre impoundment located in Palo Pinto County on Palo Pinto Creek in the Brazos River Basin approximately 79 miles southwest of Fort Worth. It was constructed in 1964 to provide municipal water for Mineral Wells, Texas and cooling water for the Brazos Electric power plant. It has a primarily rocky shoreline with boat docks. At the time of the 2011 habitat survey, the reservoir was 3.7 feet below spillway elevation and rocky shoreline and standing timber was the dominant habitat features. Boat access was adequate at the three improved public boat ramp sites. Periodic turbidity, fluctuating water levels and a rocky shoreline inhibit the growth of aquatic vegetation.
Important sport fish include blue and channel catfish, white and palmetto bass, largemouth bass, and crappie. Palo Pinto has always been managed using statewide regulations.
- Prey species: Gizzard shad catch rate was above the historical average for the reservoir and almost all were of a size range utilized by predators. The catch per unit effort (CPUE) for bluegill was the highest ever recorded for the reservoir. Threadfin shad were abundant and redear sunfish are becoming established. Prey does not appear to be a problem at the reservoir.
- Catfishes: Blue catfish were first stocked in 2007. They were not sampled during the 2008 gill net survey because they were probably not vulnerable to the gill net mesh size. During the 2010 and 2012 surveys, the catch rate was good and all fish sampled in 2012 were above the 12 inch minimum length limit. The gill net survey for the channel catfish resulted in a catch rate that has been in decline since 2008. This phenomenon of CPUE decline is seen in most of the district reservoirs where blue catfish have become established. Flathead catfish exist in the reservoir, but were not sampled in 2012.
- White bass: White bass CPUE was the lowest ever recorded but was probably affected by the extremely high water elevations the month preceding the survey and at the time of the survey. The reservoir was above spillway elevation and many fish either went up the creek or some might have left the reservoir by going over the spillway.
- Palmetto bass: One palmetto bass was sampled in 2012 compared to 2010 when four were surveyed. High water during the 2012 survey period and only one stocking since 2008 could account for the low CPUE. Like white bass, the palmetto bass possibly escaped the reservoir and were therefore not vulnerable to our nets.
- Largemouth bass: Largemouth bass CPUE was the highest ever recorded. Body condition was considered below average. Many bass were just below the minimum legal size limit and good numbers of legal sized bass were surveyed so the future is bright for this population.
- Crappie: The 2011 white crappie CPUE was above the historical average. A majority of the crappie were in the 6-8 inch range which bodes well for the future. Body condition was considered good. Black crappie are present but in low abundance.
- Request annual stocking of palmetto bass at five per acre.
- Gill net every two years to monitor palmetto bass and blue catfish.
- Perform year-long creel survey to determine reservoir angling pressure, catch, and harvest.
- Collect age and growth data for largemouth bass.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-221-M-2 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program