Fort Phantom Hill Reservoir - 2015 Survey Report
Prepared by Michael Homer Jr. and Natalie Goldstrohm
Inland Fisheries Division – Abilene District
This is the authors' summary from a 36-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Fish populations in Fort Phantom Hill Reservoir were surveyed in 2015 by electrofishing and trap netting and in 2016 by gill netting. 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.
Fort Phantom Hill Reservoir is a 4,246-acre impoundment constructed on Elm Creek about 15 miles north of Abilene, Texas. It is located in the Brazos River Basin and is primarily used for municipal water supply and recreation. The power plant was closed in 2012. Installation of a breakwater structure was completed in 2012 to reduce wave-action at the boat ramp, and extension of the boat dock and two boat-ramp lanes was completed in 2012. In 2014, an effluent water discharge system was installed on the central eastern side of the reservoir. Water level substantially fluctuated from 2007 to 2015. After getting nearly 18 feet low, rainfall during 2015-2016 refilled the reservoir and increased water level to over conservation pool elevation. Habitat was primarily flooded terrestrial vegetation, black willow, woody debris/brush, and smartweed. Invasive saltcedar was also present.
Important sport fish include White Crappie, White Bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, Largemouth Bass, and catfishes. Walleye were stocked 10 times from 1973 to 1995 before requests were discontinued because of poor stocking success and failure to establish a fishery. Blue Catfish were introduced in 1974. An 18-inch minimum length limit on Blue Catfish existed from 1993 to 1999 before reinstatement to the statewide regulation. Threadfin Shad were introduced in 1984 and the population is self-sustaining. Florida Largemouth Bass were introduced in 1976 and have been stocked eight times from 1976 to 2001. A 16-inch minimum length limit on Largemouth Bass, in effect from 1994 to 2012, was changed to the statewide 14-inch minimum length limit on September 1, 2012. Palmetto Bass were introduced in 1977 and have since been stocked nearly annually until 2014. Sunshine Bass were introduced in 2014. Palmetto Bass were also stocked in 2014. Sunshine Bass were stocked again in 2015 and 2016.
- Prey species: Gizzard Shad were numerous throughout the survey period and continued to be the dominant prey species. Bluegill, Longear Sunfish, and Inland Silversides were also relatively abundant and support the prey species community.
- Catfishes: Blue Catfish were relatively abundant in the low-frequency electrofishing and gill netting surveys. However, most individuals were of sub-legal size. Blue Catfish were estimated to reach legal length in five years. Channel Catfish continued to have low relative abundance in gill netting surveys. Flathead Catfish were also present.
- White Bass: White Bass relative abundance in 2016 declined since previous gill netting surveys, and few legal-sized fish were observed in the most recent gill netting survey.
- Hybrid Striped Bass: Hybrid Striped Bass were relatively abundant in the reservoir, but their catch rates declined since the last survey period. All legal fish captured were Palmetto Bass, and all Sunshine Bass captured were from the 2015 stocking.
- Largemouth Bass: Largemouth Bass relative abundance in electrofishing surveys was variable during the survey period and was correlated with water level fluctuations. Only two legal-sized bass were caught during the 2015 electrofishing survey.
- White Crappie: White Crappie catch in trap net surveys increased during the survey period. Crappie production appeared correlated with water level fluctuations. While White Crappie were relatively abundant, fewer legal-sized fish were observed in the 2015 survey compared to prior surveys.
- Continue to stock Hybrid Striped Bass, and evaluate growth between Palmetto and Sunshine Bass.
- Work with City of Abilene to improve bank angler access.
- Monitor saltcedar coverage and identify possible control measures.
- Educate public about invasive species threats.
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