Wichita Reservoir - 2004 Survey Report
Prepared by Mark Howell and Robert Mauk
Inland Fisheries Division
District 2-E, Wichita Falls, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 27-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Wichita was surveyed in 2004-05 using electrofishing, gill and trap netting. These surveys were completed using stratified, randomly selected sites. The 2004-05 CPUE comparisons made in this summary are compared with the results of Wichita historical averages for the period 2000-2005. A survey of the littoral zone and associated physical habitat types was conducted in 2004 by examining the entire shoreline. Information from a March-May 2005 creel survey is included for historical perspective on angler use and compared with March-May creel surveys conducted in 1993, 2000 and 2003. This report summarizes all 2004-05 survey results and contains a management plan based on those findings.
Wichita is a 1,224 acre municipal reservoir owned and operated by the city of Wichita Falls for flood control and recreation. The dam is within the city limits of Wichita Falls in Wichita County and a portion of the reservoir is in Archer County. The reservoir was built in 1901, impounding Holliday Creek, a tributary to the Wichita River. Originally, the lake was 2,200 acres and was built as a municipal water supply reservoir. After alternative water supplies were developed, Wichita Falls initiated a project with the Corps of Engineers to control flooding below the reservoir. This project culminated in a new spillway being completed in August 1995, 4.7 feet lower than the original one. This acted to reduce the surface acreage to 1,224 acres, mean depth to 4.5 feet and maximum depth to 9.5 feet. In an effort to sustain recreational use, the city of Wichita Falls diverts water from the local irrigation district to maintain elevation at or near spillway level. Angler and boat access were improved with the opening of a new boat ramp in 2000. However, there is no designated handicapped access. Habitat includes relatively large stands of native emergent vegetation. In March of 2004 a toxic golden alga event killed approximately 7,700 fish of which 93% were non-game fish. No other occurrences have been documented since.
- Prey species: Gizzard shad and bluegill were sampled by electrofishing in fall 2004. Gizzard shad were more abundant (180.0/hr) than the previous survey in 2000 (50.0/hr). The index of vulnerability (DiCenzo et al. 1996) was again high at 99. Bluegill were sampled at a rate of 92.0/hr compared to the last survey in the spring of 2001 when they were sampled at a rate of 19.0/hr. It is apparent that very abundant forage size gizzard shad continue to provide an adequate prey base for game fish.
- Catfishes: The channel catfish population continues to provide quality fishing opportunities for Wichita anglers. Catch rates have steadily increased from the 2001 gill net sample of 0.4/net night to 0.6/ net night in 2003 and to 1.2/net night in 2005. The 2005 sample population included a relatively high percentage (42%) of fish greater than 20 inches. The 2005 spring creel survey observed channel catfish being harvested from 17-20 inches. Channel catfish remain a popular species with anglers and are also harvested by jug and trotlines for which no creel survey data was collected. While no flathead catfish were collected, a 38.5 pound lake record was documented in 1999.
- Temperate basses: The gill net catch rate for white bass was down from the previous survey and slightly below the historic reservoir average of 13.2/net night. However, the 2005 catch rate of 11.5/net night for white bass was still relatively high when compared to the district average of 6.9/net night. The majority of 2005 sample was greater than 13 inches with one fish being sampled over 19 inches. The abundant shad population provides excellent forage, producing large size white bass as evidenced by a 4.09 pound lake record caught in March 2005. The spring 2005 creel survey results show a good fishery for these larger fish with all observed harvested being from 13–17 inches. White bass growth rates remained good when they were last checked in 2003 and were above ecological region averages. The CPUE for palmetto bass is steadily increasing from 0.4/net night in 1997 to 0.8/net night in 2000, 2.2/net night in 2001, 2.9/net night in 2003 and finally to 5.4/net night in 2005. Abundance has been expected to increase with the annual stockings every year since 1998 with the exception of 2001. Special creel questions were developed during spring 2005 for use through November 2005 to determine angler attitudes and opinions about stocking palmetto bass and their satisfaction with the fishery.
- Largemouth bass: The 1997 catch rate for largemouth bass was 0.7/hr, in fall 2000 it was 0.0/hr and the survey in fall 2004 also had a catch rate of 0.0/hr. During the 2003 creel survey, one largemouth bass was observed as harvested. Largemouth bass are still expected to be present in the reservoir, but at a low level. Largemouth bass habitat is relatively poor and there is low angler interest in the species because of this low abundance. In 1994, before the drop in spillway elevation, largemouth bass were sampled at 30.7/hr when fixed sites were used. The lake is not well suited for Florida largemouth bass and a supplemental stocking of 62,000 northern largemouth fingerlings occurred in 2005. The increase in emergent, shoreline vegetation should provide an increased survival opportunity for the 2005 stocking.
- White crappie: The 2004 catch rate of 36.3/net night was well above the 4.3/net night observed during the previous 2000 survey. However, the 2004 sample was predominantly age-0 fish. While this evidence of good reproduction is encouraging, the population includes far fewer legal size fish than before the spillway elevation change in 1995. Before the change in spillway level, Wichita crappie populations were among the best in Texas. Again, the increase in emergent shoreline vegetation is expected to enhance young crappie survival and eventually increase abundance of legal size fish in the future.
Based on current information, this reservoir should continue to be managed with existing regulations. An abundant gizzard shad population should provide ample forage for annual palmetto bass stockings. Opportunities to enhance and maintain aquatic habitat should be actively considered along with attempts to reestablish a stronger largemouth bass population.
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