Waco Reservoir - 2003 Survey Report
Prepared by John Tibbs and Michael S. Baird
Inland Fisheries Division
District 2-B, Waco, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 38-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Waco Reservoir was surveyed in the fall of 2003 by boat electrofishing and trap netting, and spring of 2004 by gill netting. This report summarizes survey results and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Waco Reservoir is supplied by the North, Middle, and South Bosque Rivers within the Brazos River Basin, McLennan County. The reservoir is used for flood control, municipal water supply, and recreation. Its conservation pool was permanently raised in October 2003, from 455 to 462 feet above mean sea level, to increase municipal water storage capacity. The now 8,465-acre impoundment has the same drainage area of 1,670 square miles, a new storage capacity of 104,100 acre-feet, and a new shoreline length of 60 miles. Mean and maximum depths are now 28.0 and 92.0 feet respectively. Fall electrofishing was performed prior to the pool rise, and shoreline fish habitat mostly consisted of rocky shoreline, inundated stumps, and water willow. Trap netting and gill netting was performed post pool rise, and new habitat consisted almost exclusively of flooded riparian forest and small amounts of rocky shoreline. Bank fishing is limited to a few day-use areas on the reservoir proper. Boat access on the reservoir is excellent with all 10 public boat ramps having been re-vamped to accommodate the pool rise. Currently, there are no handicap-specific facilities, but a handicap accessible fishing pier is in the works.
- Prey species: Gizzard shad were collected at a rate of 91.3/hour during 2003 electrofishing less than the average of the previous four surveys (182.5/hour). The index of vulnerability (i.e., the percentage of individual gizzard shad less than 8 inches total length, thought to be vulnerable to predation) or IOV was 45.3, less than the average of the previous four surveys (77.5). This meant fewer gizzard shad suitable as forage were available during 2003 as compared to previous survey years. Gizzard shad catch rates varied considerably across sample years. Threadfin shad were collected at a rate of 3.3/hour during 2003 electrofishing, which was similar to 2001 (8.0/hour) and 1999 (0.7/hour). Bluegill were collected as a rate of 314.7/hour, similar to the 2001 survey (342.7/hour) and higher than the average of the previous four surveys (178.0/hour). Few exceeded 7 inches in length, indicating high suitability for forage and little opportunity for panfish anglers. Redear sunfish were present in relatively low numbers in the 2003 electrofishing sample. Only 22.7/hour were collected, but that was higher than any of the previous four surveys. In addition, fish exceeding 9 and even 10 inches were present, providing opportunity for panfish anglers.
- Catfishes: Blue catfish were collected for the first time in the 2004 gill netting survey, with a catch rate of 3.2/net night. A stocking in 2000 to supplement the 1989 stocking appears to have worked well. An RSD30 of 3 and other fish larger than 25 inches indicates some fish were likely present from the earlier stocking. Channel catfish were collected at a rate of 5.7/net night, similar to catch rates from 1999 (6.7/net night), 1996 (5.7/net night), but lower than 1993 (12.4/net night). All sizes were represented and condition was good, with Wr’s exceeding 100 in all legal-sized fish. Catfish, all species combined, were the second most sought after group, with 2.5 hours/acre of directed effort in the 2001 creel survey. Those anglers seeking catfish caught fish at a rate of 1.1 fish/hour and harvested fish at a rate of 0.6 fish/hour.
- White bass: White bass were barely represented in the 2004 gill netting survey, with a catch rate of only 0.4/net night. This catch was less than 1999 (1.7/net night), and 1996 (1.3/net night), and much less than 1993 (15.0/net night). All fish were of legal size. Anglers spent 0.7 hours/acre seeking white bass in the 2001 creel survey, the least of any game fish species in the reservoir. However, they were caught at a rate of 13.0/hour and harvested at a rate of 3.2/hour. It is interesting that this high catch rate was not the result of spring river fishing. In fact, good catches were recorded throughout the year.
- Largemouth bass: Largemouth bass were collected at a rate of 194.0/hour during 2003 electrofishing, the same as 2001 (194.0/hour), and higher than the average of the previous four surveys (120.8/hour). Florida bass alleles were similar to previous surveys, with 49.2% introgression. Anglers spent 3.1 hours/acre seeking largemouth bass, catching 1.5/hour and harvesting 0.3/hour. Largemouth bass was the most sought after species in the reservoir.
- White crappie: White crappie were collected at a rate of 5.2/net night, similar to the average of the previous three surveys (6.3/net night). The white crappie population on Waco continues to provide quality fishing for area anglers. Anglers spent 2.0 hours/acre seeking crappie, making it the third most sought after species group. Crappie were caught at a rate of 1.6/hour and harvested at a rate of 0.8/hour.
Based on current information, Waco Reservoir should continue to be managed with current regulations. Increased sampling effort will be expended over the next four years to determine the effects of the pool rise on sportfish populations. Construction of a fishing pier by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be encouraged.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-30-R-29 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program