Palo Pinto Reservoir - 2015 Survey Report
Prepared by Robert Mauk and Tom Lang
Inland Fisheries Division – Wichita Falls District
This is the authors' summary from a 34-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Fish populations in Palo Pinto Reservoir were surveyed in 2015 using electrofishing and trap netting and in 2016 using gill netting. Anglers were surveyed from June 2012 through May 2013 with a creel survey. Historical data are presented with the 2015-2016 data for comparison. 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 2015 habitat survey, the reservoir was 0.4 feet below spillway elevation and rocky shoreline and standing timber were 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 White Crappie. Palo Pinto Reservoir has always been managed using statewide regulations. Recent stockings are Palmetto Bass being stocked in 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2016 and Florida Largemouth Bass were stocked in 2015 and 2016.
- Prey species: Gizzard Shad catch rate was the highest ever recorded for the reservoir and all were of a size range utilized by predators. The catch per unit effort (CPUE) for Bluegill was the lowest ever recorded for the reservoir. Threadfin Shad were abundant. Prey does not appear to be a problem at the reservoir.
- Catfishes: Blue Catfish were first stocked in 2007. They were not observed in the 2008 gill net survey because they were likely not recruited to the gear. During the 2010 and 2012 surveys, the catch rate was good. The drought had a negative impact on Blue Catfish abundance with the catch rate being about half of what it had been in the previous two surveys. The 2016 gill net survey for Channel Catfish resulted in no fish being sampled. This population has been in decline since 2008 when the Blue Catfish were introduced. This phenomenon of CPUE decline is seen in most of the Wichita Falls District reservoirs where Blue Catfish have become established.
- White Bass: No White Bass were sampled during the 2016 gill net surveys. Over the past 10 years, White Bass abundance has decreased each time a gill net survey was completed. The drought likely negatively impacted the population.
- Palmetto Bass: No Palmetto Bass were sampled in 2016. The drought likely negatively impacted the population.
- Largemouth Bass: Largemouth Bass CPUE was the lowest ever recorded. Body condition was considered above average. Nearly all Largemouth Bass sampled were below the minimum legal length limit, likely resulting from water level impacts on natural recruitment and the 2015 supplemental stocking.
- Crappie: The 2015 White Crappie CPUE was the lowest recorded and well below the historical average. Body condition was considered good. Black crappie were present but in low abundance.
- Request annual stocking of 10-15 fingerling Palmetto Bass per acre.
- Conduct additional gill net surveys in 2018 to monitor Palmetto Bass and Blue Catfish populations, and general monitoring surveys with trap nets, gill nets, and electrofishing surveys in 2019-2020.
- Access and vegetation surveys will be conducted in 2019.
- Inform the public about the negative impacts of aquatic invasive species.
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