Falcon Lake Benefits From Flooding in Mexico, Rains in South Texas

Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov

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AUSTIN, Texas — The floodwaters that devastated Piedras Negras, Mexico, April 4-5 had quite the opposite effect on the International Falcon Reservoir downstream.

"In June 2003, the lake was 45 feet low," said TPWD district fisheries biologist Jimmy Dean of San Antonio. "As of May 4 we are only 15 feet down. We now have over 59,000 surface acres of water, and all boat ramps on the lake are open."

Fishing suffered from the low lake levels, but while water levels were down, a tremendous amount of vegetation grew on the exposed lake bottom, Dean said. "Now that vegetation is covered with water, and it provides cover for spawning and protection for small fish. We were able to stock fish last year under good conditions, and this year we are stocking Florida largemouth bass fingerlings, adult white bass and subadult crappie to go along with natural reproduction. Largemouth bass grow fast down here, and with the bass already in the lake, we will have great fishing in Falcon for several years to come."

Even though the Rio Grande is heavily used for irrigation, Dean does not expect Falcon to be drawn down any time soon. "Rains have been falling up and down the Rio Grande Valley, and farmers are not having to irrigate much. Plus, continued rains in Mexico have them releasing water into rivers that come into the Rio Grande below Falcon. So demand for Falcon water for irrigation is low right now. The rising water level and flooded terrestrial vegetation have produced a tremendous forage base of threadfin and gizzard shad, and that will help fish grow fast. Falcon is on its way back after 10 years of drought and low water levels," Dean said.

For more information, visit the Web (http://tpwd.texas.gov/fish/infish/lakes/falcon/lake_id.htm).