Texoma Reservoir - 2004 Survey Report
Prepared by Bruce Hysmith and John H. Moczygemba
Inland Fisheries Division
District 2-A, Pottsboro, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 56-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Texoma Reservoir was surveyed in 2004 using trap nets and electrofisher, and in 2005 using gill nets. This report summarizes the results of these surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir.
Texoma Reservoir, a 74,686-acre impoundment on the Red River, was constructed in 1944 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is located 75 miles north of Dallas-Fort Worth. Denison Dam impounds waters of the Red and Washita Rivers. Texoma Reservoir drains approximately 40,000 square miles in west Texas and central and western Oklahoma. The shoreline is 580 miles long and has a shoreline development index of 13.88. Water depth < 15 feet accounts for approximately 40% of the reservoir. In 1992 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers implemented a reservoir water-level management plan that was a consensus of the Texoma Reservoir Advisory Committee made up of various conservation/recreation agency personnel, area businesses, and chambers of commerce. The plan varies from the conventional reservoir conservation elevation (617-ft-msl) in that water level is allowed to drop to a level below conservation elevation during the spring and early fall. Reservoir level is then maintained above the conservation elevation during summer, late fall and early winter. Reservoir purpose(s) include flood control; hydropower generation; municipal, industrial, and agricultural water supply; and recreation. Boat access is adequate with 42 public ramps and bank access is available at 42 sites. Despite improvements in some public facilities, many areas around the lake that have been open to the public are now closed, are scheduled to be closed, or have been turned over to private concessionaires who either disallow angling or charge a fee. Boat ramps that were free now require a fee. Access to facilities for the physically challenged was provided. Fish habitat is primarily rock riprap, flooded boulders/rocks/stumps, boat docks, boat ramps, and standing timber.
Golden alga (Prymnesium parvum) was discovered in Texoma Reservoir January 24, 2004 in the Lebanon Pool upstream on the Red River arm. Upon investigation, shortnose, longnose, and spotted gar were observed stressed or dead. On March 6, 2004 four white crappie and one largemouth bass collected from Cedar Mills Resort on the Big Mineral Bay of Texoma Reservoir displayed injuries consistent with golden alga. On March 10, staff investigated and found dead, dying, and stressed threadfin shad, freshwater drum, bluegill, and crappie from Cedar Mills Resort to Highport Marina, described as the major kill zone. The kill reached Lazy Acres Cove east of Highport Marina Bay and no further. Dead and dying fish continued to be observed in the area from Cedar Mills Resort to Lazy Acres Cove until March 23/24. Overall estimates of the kill from January through March, 2004, indicated approximately one million fish, mostly threadfin shad, died.
After many meetings among Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) biologists and administrators a plan was implemented to start collecting water samples at 17 sites from Texoma Reservoir by October 18, 2004 (Appendix K and L). Throughout the 2004-2005 season, no stressed or dead fish were observed.
In summary, the major difference in Texoma Reservoir during the event of 2004 versus the event of 2004-2005 was water level and inflow. In 2004, water level was low (Appendix E) with no inflow on either river system and in 2004-2005 water level was high (Appendix E) and there was inflow on both river systems. While we have no definitive data, except the presence of dead and dying fish in 2004 and no dead or dying fish in 2004-2005, we believe the severity of golden alga events may be linked to dilution of the toxin. In both events golden alga cells were present and in both events measurable toxin was present. There was an indirect impact to the sport fish community resulting from the kill of 2004. Although 95% of the dead fish were threadfin shad, they comprise a major source of prey for sport fishes in the reservoir. This indirect impact has not manifested itself in an overt decline in recreational angling activities, nor has it affected the abundance and health of the fisheries resources. Ironically, striped bass angling during and following the event of 2004 was better than it had been for years according to anecdotal information from several fishing guides on the reservoir.
- Prey species: The electrofishing catch rate of gizzard shad (221.5/hour) has been consistent since 1998. It was above the historic average (196.3/hour) for the reservoir and has provided a strong prey base since 1987. The historic average is based on 15 surveys from 1987 through 2004. The electrofishing catch rate of bluegill (151.5/hour) was slightly lower than the 2000 catch rate (165.5/hour) and lower than the historic average (265.3/hour), but still provided an excellent prey base for predator fish in the reservoir. In addition to abundance, the size range of prey species indicated their vulnerability to existing predators. The Index of Vulnerability (IOV) for gizzard shad was 68, down from 2000, but over one-half the gizzard shad population was vulnerable to predation. The average annual IOV for gizzard shad since 1987 was 65. The size mode of the bluegill population peaked out at 4 inches, which is ideal size prey for adult predators. The catch rate of threadfin shad (37.0/hour) was down from 2000 and below the historic average of 1,026.9/hour), but considering their sensitivity to low water temperatures during the winter, fluctuations in abundance in this reservoir are not uncommon. A note regarding the historic average: the highest electrofishing catch rate of threadfin shad in this reservoir (15,026.5/hour) occurred in 1989, mostly from the sample station in the Washita River arm at the east end of the Frisco Railroad bridge. Additional prey species include a variety of minnows and sunfishes.
- Catfishes: The 2005 gill net catch rate of blue catfish was 0.8/net night. Since 1987 the highest catch rate of record 3.2/net night in 1988, most often the catch rate was < 1.0/net night. The historic average catch rate from 1987 through 2005 was 1.8/net night. The average relative weight was 94 and 100% of the sample population was > 12 inches. The reservoir record and former world record blue catfish was 121.5 pounds and 58 inches long. The 2005 gill net catch rate of channel catfish was 1.1/net night. The highest catch on record was 3.8/net night in 1988 and the historic average catch rate was 2.5/net night. The average relative weight was 100 and 35% of the sample population was > 12 inches. The record channel catfish is 10.07 pounds and 27.5 inches long. Flathead catfish were collected in Texoma Reservoir, but catch in gill nets seldom reaches 0.5/net night and the historic average catch rate from 1987 through 2005 was 0.2/net night. Anecdotal data from trotline anglers and an occasional rod and reel angler indicated an active flathead catfish fishery existed, but they are rarely collected in gill nets. Despite an active recreational fishery for blue, channel, and flathead catfish, most continue to evade gill net capture.
- Temperate basses: The 2005 gill net catch rate of white bass was 4.5/net night, down from 6.7/net night in 2000 and lower than the historic average (5.0/net night) for this reservoir. Since 1987, annual white bass sample populations have varied from 11.1/net night down to 0.1/net night. Despite their fluctuation in abundance, they have consistently produced a good fishery. White bass exhibited excellent condition, evidenced by an average relative weight of 97. Fifty-three percent of the sample population was > 10 inches. The reservoir record white bass was 3.41 pounds and 18 inches long. Based on annual creel survey data collected between 1987 and 1999, striped bass was the most sought-after sport fish in Texoma Reservoir. Anecdotal data from local fishing guides, anglers, and concessionaires affirmed this species popularity. The gill net catch rate of striped bass was 22.3/net night, consistent with gill net catch rates over the past 19 years. The historic 19-year average gill net catch of striped bass was 18.7/net night. The body condition or relative weight of striped bass changed with season. For example, they were heavier at a given length in the winter than they were at the same given length in the summer. The average relative weight was 90 and 33% of the sample population was > 20 inches. Annual statistics are tabulated in Appendix M. Anecdotally, striped bass angling continued to receive the bulk of directed angling effort and guided fishing trips for striped bass were very popular year-round on this reservoir. The reservoir record striped bass was 35.12 pounds and 39 inches long.
- Black basses: The smallmouth bass appeared to rebound with evidence of successful spawning in 2004. Although the electrofishing catch rate of smallmouth bass declined over the past 5 years (8.0/hour in 1999 to 3.5/hour in 2004), production of young fish in 2004 was encouraging. The historic electrofishing catch rate of smallmouth bass from 1987 through 2004 was 15.5 for this reservoir. Because it is a bi-state reservoir, not all fish caught in the reservoir are eligible for water body record status. The largest smallmouth bass on record (7.8 pounds) was caught in Oklahoma waters and is the State Record. The official water body record for Texas is 6.91 pounds and 24 inches long. Spotted bass electrofishing catch rate has actually improved over the past 5 years (23.0/hour in 1999 to 42.0/hour in 2004) and there has been an increase in the numbers of fish > 14 inches. The historic electrofishing catch rate of spotted bass from 1987 through 2004 was 33.1/hour for this reservoir. Recruitment of age-0 fish has been successful over the last five years. The average relative weight of spotted bass remained around 90 and an average of 6% of the sample population were legally harvestable. The reservoir record spotted bass is 4.38 pounds and 20.5 inches long. The electrofishing catch rate of largemouth bass increased to 46.0/hour in 2004 from 38.5/hour in 2000. The historic electrofishing catch rate for largemouth bass from 1987 through 2004 was 99.6/hour for this reservoir. The catch of age-0 fish has declined since 1999, but was sufficient to provide a viable fishery. The average relative weight of largemouth bass was 96 and an average of 23% of the sample population was legally harvestable. The reservoir record largemouth bass is 11.82 pounds and 24.5 inches long. Florida largemouth bass were first stocked in Texoma Reservoir in 1975. They were stocked 12 other years through 2004. Because of the reservoir size, we were never able to obtain 2.2 million fingerlings required to stock the entire reservoir at 25/acre. Beginning in 1996 we adopted the embayment stocking program whereby a smaller portion of a reservoir was stocked. Theoretically, the Florida largemouth bass establish in the small area and eventually immigrate into the entire reservoir. The first bay stocked was Little Mineral (2,200 acres) in 1996, 1997, and 1998 (Stocking History Table). Big Mineral Bay (6,400 acres) was stocked in 1999, 2000, and 2002 (Stocking History Table). Electrophoretic analysis of tissue from 89 age-0 largemouth bass, collected equally from the Little Mineral Arm, Big Mineral Arm, and main pool showed 17.6% Florida largemouth alleles and 0% pure Florida genotype. Appendix I contains tabulated electrophoretic data. Although the proportion of Florida largemouth alleles did not meet minimum criteria, they did establish in the targeted sites and they immigrated into the main body of the reservoir.
- Crappie: Although comprised of mostly age-0 fish, the 2004 trap net catch rate of white crappie (27.1/net night) reached an all-time high for Texoma Reservoir. The historic average catch rate of white crappie was 5.9/net night. The historic average is based on the average from 18 surveys from 1987 through 2004. Average relative weight was 100 and 15% of the sample population was > 10 inches. The reservoir record white crappie is 3.23 pounds and 15.5 inches long. Although low in numbers, black crappie were present in Texoma Reservoir. Low catches of black crappie precluded any meaningful data analysis. The reservoir record black crappie is 2.00 pounds and 14.88 inches.
- Based on current information, the reservoir should be managed with existing fish harvest regulations, which have been standardized with ODWC for the entire reservoir. The multiple-species fishery continued to produce excellent angling opportunities year-round.
- Participation in the golden alga monitoring program and the annual gill net assessment of the striped bass fishery with ODWC personnel should be continued.
- Since becoming established in Texoma Reservoir in 1983, smallmouth bass have selected habitat at specific sites around the reservoir. Based on past electrofishing surveys, smallmouth bass do not immigrate into other areas of the reservoir. Random sampling has resulted in missing sites that hold smallmouth bass. Additional electrofishing is planned to target smallmouth bass habitat.
- While the largemouth bass CPUE is only one-half the historic average catch, the species continues to provide excellent angling opportunities. Evidence supporting the viability of the largemouth bass fishery is the many bass tournaments hosted on Texoma Reservoir. However, some productive sites may have been omitted in random sampling. Additional electrofishing is planned to target more productive largemouth bass habitat.
- New information pertaining to recreational angling on Texoma Reservoir should be updated on the Lake Texoma page on the TPWD web site.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-30-R-30 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program