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Drought Slowly Taking Toll on Lakes Brownwood and Coleman

Media Contact: Spencer Dumont, (325) 651-4846; icle__media__contact">Media Contact: Spencer Dumont, (325) 651-4846; spencer.dumont@tpwd.texas.gov

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ATHENS—Lakes Brownwood and Coleman are historically known for consistent and decent largemouth bass fishing, where anglers could expect to catch a bunch of small bass with a few keepers along the way and even an occasional big bass. But the current downhill slide of water level, dating back to 2007, is beginning to take a toll on these bass populations based on recent electrofishing surveys, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s standard method of collecting information on numbers and sizes of largemouth bass in a lake.

The electrofishing catch of small adult bass (8 to 13 inches long) at Lake Brownwood this fall tumbled to 31 bass in one hour of sampling—less than half the average catch of fish this size at Brownwood. For comparison, in 2006 the catch was 108.

As water level declines, so does the quality and quantity of habitat, leading to poor spawning success and exposure of more little bass to hungry predators. The good news is numbers of 14-inch and larger bass have been consistent since 2008 and, and based on this fall’s survey, an angler may catch two “keepers” for every 11 fish caught.

Lake Coleman has a bass population mirroring Brownwood’s. TPWD had the lowest catch of young-of-the-year bass (bass from the spring spawn) since 1997, crashing to 29 bass in one hour this fall. This was down from 150 in 2008, and catch of 8- to 13-inch bass was half what it was in 2008.

However, there is good news at Coleman, at least for now.  In one hour of electrofishing TPWD caught 21 bass that were at least 14 inches long. Most were 14 and 15 inches and the biggest was 17 inches.  “This was the highest catch for keeper-sized bass since 1997 and almost double what we normally see at Coleman,” said Spencer Dumont, fisheries biologist and program director for TPWD. “Many of these fish likely originated from spawns in the good ole’ days of 2007 and 2008, when water was as plentiful as Texas sunshine. For sure, without significant rain this winter or spring, bass populations—and bass fishing—at Brownwood and Coleman will decline as older and bigger bass die and fewer ‘replacement’ bass are available to take their place.”

For more information on area reservoirs and fish populations, contact the Abilene inland fisheries district office at (325) 692-0921, send an email to spencer.dumont@tpwd.texas.gov or visit our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/tpwdifabilene.