Inland Fisheries Division Earns Prestigious Conservation Award from Fly Fishers International

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LIVINGSTON, Mont. – Fly Fishers International has recognized the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries Division as a leader in conservation, awarding the Division with the organization’s prestigious 2021 Conservation Award. The award is bestowed upon a person, group or organization which has made extraordinary contributions to the conservation of fisheries resources that preserve the legacy of fly fishing.

The 2021 Conservation Award was presented in recognition of the Division’s leadership and collaboration with state fisheries agencies, universities, and other conservation and fishing organizations across the southern USA to conserve riverine black basses. “Of the 10 species of black bass, six are native to southern USA rivers and nowhere else in the world,” said Tim Birdsong, Deputy Director of Inland Fisheries at TPWD. “In addition to Guadalupe Bass, which is native to streams of central Texas, southern USA rivers support populations of Shoal, Choctaw, Redeye, Alabama, and Suwannee basses, all close cousins to the Guadalupe Bass and similarly prized by fly anglers.”

Since 1991, the Inland Fisheries Division and partners have restored or conserved Guadalupe Bass populations in 14 central Texas creeks and rivers. This was supported through research, surveys, monitoring, genetic assessments, outreach, conservation planning, partnership development, fundraising, and a litany of other actions. The initiative included production and stocking of over 2.4 million genetically pure Guadalupe Bass, delivery of nearly 50 habitat restoration or preservation projects, and watershed-scale management of riparian invasive plants in eight watersheds.

The restoration of Guadalupe Bass populations is underway in another six rivers, while status assessments are planned for another eight rivers. TPWD currently manages 20 public river access areas that offer angling opportunities for Guadalupe Bass, which have served as focal points for engagement of fly fishing clubs, local conservation non-profits, and communities in efforts to restore and preserve the species and its habitats.

“These successes achieved in the conservation of Guadalupe Bass are a testament to the literally hundreds of professionals and volunteers who’ve contributed to these efforts over the past three decades,” said Birdsong. “We greatly value our extensive network of passionate and committed partners, which include riparian landowners, ranchers, watershed alliances, river authorities, researchers, fishing guides, and numerous local chapters of Fly Fishers International. Collectively, we are making a real difference and it’s incredibly gratifying to receive this award and know that our efforts are valued, admired, and appreciated by the fly fishing community.”

Learn more about places to go fishing for Guadalupe Bass and ongoing conservation efforts for the species at www.tpwd.texas.gov/conserveguadalupebass. For more information about Fly Fishers International, visit the organization’s website.