Lake Wright Patman - 2004 Survey Report
Prepared by Michael W. Brice
Inland Fisheries Division
District 3-A, Marshall, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 29-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Lake Wright Patman was surveyed during the period June 2004 to May 2005 using electrofishing, gill netting, trap netting, a littoral zone habitat survey, an aquatic vegetation survey, and an angler access survey. This report summarizes the results of the surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Lake Wright Patman is located on the Sulphur River. It was constructed by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in 1956 for flood control, municipal and industrial water supply, and public recreation. It has a drainage area of approximately 3,443 square miles. Shoreline length is 170 miles. Average annual water level fluctuation is 5-10 feet; however, water level fluctuation may be much higher during periods of high rainfall. Littoral area (water depth less than 15 feet) accounts for 58% of the reservoir. Bank fishing and boating access is available at numerous USACE parks and private marinas. Structural habitat is comprised of inundated timber, brush, and riprap. Aquatic macrophytes are present with highest densities in the upper end of the reservoir. Hydrilla coverage was estimated to be 5 acres during the 2004 vegetation survey.
- Prey species: Gizzard shad, threadfin shad, sunfishes and several species of minnows were present indicating good prey fish diversity. Moderate densities of clupeids were available as prey; electrofishing catch rates for gizzard shad and threadfin shad were 491.5 fish/hour and 45.0 fish/hour, respectively. Total clupeid (gizzard and threadfin shad) density (537.5 fish/hour) of 2004 electrofishing was very similar to that of 2000 (531.5 fish/hour). Index of vulnerability (IOV) for gizzard shad in 2004 indicated 77% of the population was available to existing predators. Catch rates for combined sunfish species (bluegill, longear sunfish, and redear sunfish) increased from 90.5 fish/hour in 2000 to 150.0 fish/hour in 2004. Size distributions of sunfishes indicated many small fish were available as prey for piscivores. Prey availability was adequate for adult largemouth bass as evidenced by mean relative weights in excess of 90 for all inch groups.
- Catfishes: Historical gill net data indicated there were higher catch rates of blue catfish during fall sampling when compared to spring. Therefore, fall gill netting was used in conjunction with a special project until 2001 to assess the blue catfish population. The blue catfish catch rate during fall gill netting was 4.7 fish/net night in 2001. This survey occurred after the most recent report was published. However, 2005 spring gill netting catch rate of blue catfish was only 0.07 fish/net night. These data indicate that the species still exists in the reservoir but population assessment is difficult. Ryan and Brice (2001) reported that blue catfish attain legal size (> 12 inches) during their second or third growing season. The 2005 gill netting catch rate of channel catfish (14.5 fish/net night) was more than double the catch in 2002 (5.5 fish/net night). Most of the fish collected in 2005 were legal-size (>12 inches), indicating an increase in the numbers of fish that were available for angler harvest. Channel catfish growth was slower compared to other district water bodies as they reach legal size during their fourth growing season (Ryan and Brice 2001).
- White and palmetto bass: The catch rate of white bass in gill nets has increased from 2.7 fish/net night in 2001 and 1.1 fish/net night in 2002 to 11.5 fish/net night in 2005. Competition with palmetto bass, which were stocked from 1994-1999, and 2002 at a stocking rate that ranged from 5 to 25 fingerlings/acre, is a possible reason for the lower catch rates of white bass over the past several years. Ryan and Brice (2001) reported that white bass reach legal size (>10 inches) by age 1. Annual stockings of palmetto bass were discontinued in 2003 due to low angler utilization. The palmetto bass catch rate has steadily declined from 2.8 fish/net night in 2000 to 0.1 fish/net night in 2005.
- Sunfishes: Electrofishing catch rates increased from 2000 to 2004 for both bluegill (76.0 fish/hour to 118.5 fish/hour) and redear sunfish (4.0 fish/hour to 11.0 fish/hour); however, current catch rates were lower than those in 1997 for both species (bluegill; 341.3 fish/hour, redear sunfish; 64.7 fish/hour). Bluegill and redear sunfish attain 6.0 inches during their third growing season (Ryan and Brice 2001).
- Black bass: The catch rate of largemouth bass increased from 26.5 fish/hour in 2000 to 48.5 fish/hour in 2004. This increase was due to higher numbers of sub stock-size fish (<8 inches) being collected in 2004 (20.0 fish/hour) as compared with 2000 (6.0 fish/hour). Largemouth bass reach legal size during their third growing season. Florida largemouth bass were stocked in 2002 and 2003 to enhance the genetics of the largemouth bass population. However, electrophoretic analysis of young-of-year largemouth bass indicated only 5.9% Florida alleles in 2004, which was below the target level of 20%.
- Crappie: Catch rates of white and black crappie in 2004 were 31.9 fish/net night and 1.2 fish/net night, respectively. Of the white crappie collected >5 inches (stock-size), 52.1% were legally harvestable (>10 inches). Crappies up to 15 inches were collected. Growth rates of both species were similar to previous years. White and black crappies reach legal size during their second and third growing season, respectively.
Based on fish community data, the reservoir should be managed under current harvest regulations. Lake Wright Patman supports excellent catfish, white bass, and crappie fishing opportunities. Special efforts should be made to promote these fisheries. Because Florida largemouth bass alleles were <20% in the latest sample, additional stocking should be requested for 2007 and 2008 at a rate of 25 fish/acre. Electrophoretic sampling should be conducted when necessary to monitor the success of Florida largemouth bass stockings and their genetic influence on the 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