Sam Rayburn Reservoir - 2014 Survey Report
Prepared by Todd Driscoll and Dan Ashe
Inland Fisheries Division – Jasper District
This is the authors' summary from a 45-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Fish populations in Sam Rayburn Reservoir were surveyed in 2014 using electrofishing and in 2015 using gill netting. Anglers were surveyed from June 2014 through May 2015 with a creel survey. Historical data are presented with the 2014-2015 data for comparison. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir.
Sam Rayburn Reservoir is an 111,422-acre impoundment of the Angelina River in Angelina, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Sabine, San Augustine, and Tyler counties in southeast Texas. Water level fluctuations average 6 to 7 feet annually. Aquatic habitat consists of aquatic vegetation (primarily hydrilla and American lotus) and standing timber.
The black bass fishery is the most popular at Sam Rayburn Reservoir (69 - 80% of annual angling effort, which includes over 400 bass tournaments per year). Approximately 10 - 15% of anglers target crappie and 5 - 10% target catfish. Angler interest in more restrictive length limits for Largemouth Bass and potential biological and economic impacts of bass tournaments prompted research from 2004 - 2009. Results indicated that the proportion of the Largemouth Bass population harvested was relatively low (9%) and more restrictive length limits would provide little benefit. In addition, impacts of tournaments on the Largemouth Bass population were low (only 5% of population retained by tournament anglers) but tournament expenditures were high (66% of total). Florida Largemouth Bass (FLMB) have been stocked annually since 1994 to increase abundance of large bass (>8 pounds). Giant salvinia was found in the reservoir in 2008, and is now present in a majority of creeks and embayments with coverage exceeding 4,000 acres in 2014.
- Prey species: Gizzard Shad, Threadfin Shad, and Bluegill were the most abundant prey species and provided ample forage for sport fish.
- Catfishes: The relative abundance of Blue and Channel Catfish was stable compared to previous years. Angler catch rates averaged 1.7 fish/hour. Blue and Flathead Catfish provided trophy opportunities for anglers.
- Temperate basses: Historically, White Bass abundance has been low. Gill net catch rates increased to 6.3 fish/nn in 2011, but declined to 1.2 fish/nn in 2015. Yellow Bass were present in moderate numbers. Few anglers target temperate bass.
- Black basses: Few Spotted Bass were sampled with electrofishing. Largemouth Bass abundance increased over the last three survey years and was relatively high (> 200 fish/hour). Size structure and fish condition were favorable. The black bass fishery was most popular (75% of anglers targeted bass) and angler catch rate was high (1.5/hour).
- Crappie: White and Black Crappie were present in the reservoir. Angler catch (1.9/hour) reflected an abundant crappie population.
- Stock FLMB annually to maintain and improve large fish abundance.
- Monitor Largemouth Bass population with biennial electrofishing and creel surveys every four years.
- Continue tournament monitoring program to more effectively monitor abundance of larger fish.
- Maintain information signs, conduct annual aerial vegetation surveys, and apply herbicides when appropriate to minimize impacts of giant salvinia.
- Monitor the crappie fishery via creel surveys.
- Monitor the catfish populations with biennial creel and gill net surveys.
- Publish monthly articles in the Lakecaster magazine highlighting TPWD activities.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-221-M-5 Inland Fisheries Division Monitoring and Management Program