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[ Note: This item is more than eight years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [LH]
May 11, 2009
Size Large Genes
Florida Largemouth Bass Changed Texas Fishing Forever
ATHENS, Texas -- If shooting fish in a barrel is easy, showing why Texas bass are bigger than ever is even easier.
While not even the editors of the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms can come up with an explanation of where or how the expression "shooting fish in a barrel" originated, even this humble writer can ascertain why bigger bass are found in Texas today than 40 years ago.
Three words: Florida. Largemouth. Bass.
But you don't have to take my word for it. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) inland fisheries geneticist Dijar Lutz-Carrillo has been using the latest technology to analyze DNA from 147 bass weighing 13 pounds or more that have been entered into TPWD's ShareLunker program since 1995. (Samples were not available from all the entries during that period.)
First, a little background. The largemouth bass native to Texas are commonly called northern largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides salmoides), and the Texas record for this subspecies was caught in 1945. It weighed 13.5 pounds.
Florida largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides floridanus) were introduced into Texas public waters in the early 1970s by TPWD. This species is known to attain weights greater than 20 pounds.
Soon the Texas record began to go up, and up and up. The current Texas state largemouth bass record stands at 18.18 pounds and came from Lake Fork in 1992.
In what might qualify as a classic case of "Duh," Lutz-Carrillo found that of the 147 fish mentioned above, 76, or 52 percent, were pure Florida largemouth bass. Another 58, or 39 percent, were crosses between Florida and northern bass in which the Florida influence was stronger. That's a total of 91 percent in which the Florida bass genes dominated.
That comes as no surprise, but it's scientific confirmation of what TPWD inland fisheries biologists have been saying for years: TPWD's fish stocking program works.
But there were some surprises in the data, too.
Fish from Lake Fork, which has been stocked only with Florida bass (no northern bass) since its construction, produced 47 of the fish Lutz-Carrillo analyzed. Yet only 30 percent of those fish were pure Florida. Another 53 percent had more Florida than northern genes. And four of the fish actually had more northern than Florida genes. Where did the northern bass genes come from? Most likely there were northern bass present in streams feeding the lake, and nature took its course.
Lake Alan Henry, near Lubbock, has also been stocked exclusively with Florida largemouth. Yet not all the 23 big fish analyzed had only Florida bass genes. Either northern largemouth somehow found their way into the lake, or some stocked fish had both northern and Florida genes. Genetic testing of just a few years ago was not as precise as it is today.
Falcon International Reservoir had four fish in the study. None of the fish in the study were pure Florida, but Florida genes dominated in all of them.
One thing does come through loud and clear from the figures: Not one single fish of the 147 was a pure northern largemouth, the native species. The impact of stocking Florida bass on the genetic make-up of the population couldn't be more evident. Florida genes make bigger bass, even in Texas.
Yet even bigger bass may be in Texas anglers' future. TPWD's ShareLunker program uses 13-pound or bigger bass donated by anglers in a selective breeding program, stocking the resulting fingerlings into public waters. Most are stocked as 1.5-inch fingerlings (some 78,000 in 2008), but a portion are designated as Operation World Record (OWR) fish and are reared to six inches before being stocked (more than 59,000 in 2008).
The growth of the OWR fish is being monitored and compared to growth rates of wild fish by TPWD biologists. Now in its fourth year, the program collected fish from Lake Raven, a small lake in Huntsville State Park, that give a hint of what may lie ahead.
While the average four-year-old wild fish from Lake Raven weighed 2.23 pounds, the average OWR fish weighed 2.88 pounds. And one of those OWR fish was 23 inches long and weighed a whopping 7.23 pounds!
Allen Forshage, now director of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, where the ShareLunker and OWR programs are headquartered, was one of the biologists who worked with the Florida bass introductions. "The introduction of Florida largemouth bass and the implementation of regulations that protect larger fish have had a profound impact on Texas bass fishing," said Forshage. "The ShareLunker program has documented the catch of large fish and has provided the resources such as funding for the DNA research and the brood fish to make fishing even better."
Fingerprinting Fish: Who's Your Daddy?
Using the same DNA fingerprinting techniques portrayed in television shows about forensics laboratories, TPWD geneticist Dijar Lutz-Carrillo can identify stocked progeny of ShareLunkers. He can tell which fish were their parents, too.
While it sounds like magic, what's really involved is many hours of tedious laboratory work. "Since January 2004 tissue samples have been collected from every fish entered into the ShareLunker program," Lutz-Carrillo explained. "Prior to that archival of the tissue was sporadic. The samples, preserved in cryovials filled with ethanol, have been archived in a superfreezer at -80°C.
"Over the years the methods for evaluating the taxonomic status of lunkers has changed considerably," Lutz-Carrillo continued. "The ShareLunker program was established in 1986, and until October 2005 all the entries were evaluated using one to three diagnostic genetic markers or not at all."
But bass fishing was changing in Texas, and so was the science used to analyze the tissue samples from big fish. "Methods based on nucleic acids rather than amino acids were on the horizon," Lutz-Carrillo said. "These new methods allow less invasive sampling techniques, easier preservation methods and the analysis of a greater number of markers, which gives more accurate results."
Using equipment funded by the ShareLunker program sponsor, Lutz-Carrillo refined the DNA testing on largemouth bass. "In 2005 we optimized reactions to amplify six microsatellite loci in largemouth bass," he said. "Two of these were diagnostic for taxonomy. Soon after, the National Institute of Health's National Center for Biotechnology posted 1,391 bases from the largemouth bass genome on GenBank. In the middle of this sequence the motif CA (for the bases cytosine and adenine) was repeated 18 times in a tandem array-a classic microsatellite. We quickly designed primers and optimized methods for amplifying this repetitive sequence in our lab."
Lutz-Carrillo found that the northern and Florida largemouth bass have different numbers of repeats in the sequence, which gave him a third diagnostic microsatellite.
"At the same time we were partnering with another lab to identify new microsatellites in the largemouth bass genome," Lutz-Carrillo said. "By 2008 our results were published and available on national and international sequence databases. We identified 52 novel microsatellites, several of which could be used to resolve taxonomy."
Lutz-Carrillo now uses six diagnostic markers to classify every entry into the ShareLunker program and eight polymorphic (highly variable) markers to resolve parentage. Some ShareLunkers are pure Florida and some are hybrids between Florida and northern largemouth. Some hybrids' genes are dominated by Florida largemouth influence and some by northern.
Significantly, not one single ShareLunker analyzed to date has been a pure northern largemouth. Lutz-Carrillo's work confirms that the introduction of Florida largemouth bass did indeed change the world of Texas bass fishing.
A Lake Is a Lake Is a Lake...Right?
Given the impact that stocking Florida bass into Texas waters has had on the size and number of big bass caught, it would seem that all you have to do to produce swarms of big bass in any lake is put some Florida bass in and wait a few years.
It's not quite that simple.
According to an analysis of stocking history and bass size from 89 Texas reservoirs conducted by TPWD Inland Fisheries biologist John Tibbs of Waco, not all lakes are equal when it comes to taking advantage of Florida bass genetics. "In general, nutrient-poor reservoirs in South Texas had significantly higher rates of Florida gene influence than nutrient-rich North Texas reservoirs," Tibbs said. "The size of bass that anglers caught seemed to be influenced more by local reservoir conditions than by Florida genetic influence. Anglers generally caught larger fish in large, shallow, young reservoirs with a high incidence of Florida genetic influence. Largemouth bass growth rates increased from west to east and as elevation decreased."
While Tibbs cautions that his study is not definitive, it seems clear that the most successful stocking policy will result from putting Florida bass into reservoirs that offer the best conditions for bass to express their genetic potential. The downside is that not every lake will probably be a trophy bass lake. The upside is that TPWD can make the most of anglers' dollars by putting them to work where they will do the most good.

[ Note: This item is more than eight years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle (830) 866-3533 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Ann Miller (512) 389-4732 or ann.miller@tpwd.texas.gov ]
May 11, 2009
Head to Texas State Parks for Free Fishing
AUSTIN, Texas -- Parents looking to save a few dollars by vacationing closer to home this summer might consider taking their youngsters to a nearby Texas state park, where they can try their luck at hooking a fish or two without worrying about needing a fishing license to do so. And, if you're looking for how-to instruction and structured activities for your young angler, or simply want to brush up on your own fishing skills, more than a dozen state parks this summer are hosting special family fishing events.
This year marks the sixth year of the Free Fishing in State Parks program that waives fishing license and stamp requirements within more than 50 Texas state parks. To capitalize on the program, which has been extended through Aug. 31, 2009, 13 state parks are hosting special family fishing events, where participants learn fishing skills, angling rules and regulations, have a chance to catch a fish and perhaps win door prizes.
One of this year's participating parks is Ray Roberts Lake State Park in north Texas, which has already held a couple of family fishing events and has two "Fish On!" events set for May 16 at the Isle Du Bois unit (9 a.m.-1 p.m.) and June 13 (8 a.m.-noon) at the Johnson Branch unit.
Park ranger Jerry Vaughan, who oversees the park's fishing events, expects at least 200 people to show up for the popular events that draw residents from throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. He says the program attempts to replicate the kind of fishing advice once commonly dispensed to youngsters by older family members.
"Lots of parents today don't know how to fish and are hesitant to take their kids fishing," Vaughan said. "We try to create an atmosphere that is like you're going fishing with grandpa. The key is getting kids outdoors so they'll know what's going on and respect the world around them."
At the Ray Roberts Lake fishing events, children learn the basics of fishing from park rangers and volunteers, and can try their luck at landing a fish, some for the very first time. Last year, Vaughan says, an 11-year-old participant caught a Junior Angler-record bluegill. The Ray Roberts Lake Rotary Club will serve free hot dogs and sponsor drawings for door prizes. Fishing tackle and bait will be provided or participants can bring their own.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department believes the special fishing events are increasing state park visitation and engaging new anglers, which will translate into future fishing license and equipment sales, and future conservationists. Statistics gathered last year by TPWD's Aquatic Education branch show that 53 special family fishing events reached more than 2,300 youth and 1,400 adults. Of that number, one in five youngsters had never fished before and 109 kids reported catching their first fish. Of adults surveyed, 47 percent said they had never been to the park before.
Thanks to a variety of retail sponsors, event participants walk away not only with newly acquired fishing skills, such as learning how to tie and bait a hook, but also with freshwater and saltwater fishing guides, fishing equipment, tackle boxes and other giveaways.
The special family fishing events continue to grow. The number of participating state parks this year has increased from 11 to 13. Included among those sites is Galveston Island State Park. Though the park suffered catastrophic damage from Hurricane Ike, the bayside ponds are being used for the fishing events and will welcome anglers on May 9, June 6 and July 11. Goose Island, Lake Casa Blanca and Cedar Hill state parks also have joined the roster of parks hosting family fishing events this year.
Special events aside, any time is a great time to visit a Texas state park to enjoy recreational fishing without breaking the bank. However, keep in mind that license-free angling applies only to fishing inside a state park from the bank, a pier or from a boat if done in a body of water totally contained within the boundaries of a state park, such as Huntsville State Park's Lake Raven. State parks along the coast also participate to encourage fishing from the beach and wade-fishing. State park entry fees, however, still apply. All state fishing regulations, except the license and stamp requirements, remain in effect.
In addition to Cedar Hill, Galveston Island, Goose Island, Lake Casa Blanca and Ray Roberts Lake, fishing event coordinators have scheduled special family fishing events this year at Bastrop/Buescher, Blanco, Bonham, Choke Canyon, Eisenhower, Huntsville, McKinney Falls and Palmetto state parks.
A complete list of the coastal and inland state parks offering scheduled events and family fishing classes can be found on the TPWD Web site.
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than eight years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Más información: Aaron Reed, aaron.reed@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8046; En Español: Eddie McKenna, emckenna@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8696 ]
May 11, 2009
Temporada Mortal de 2008 Resulta en Más Eventos Comunitarios de la Seguridad en Bote
AUSTIN, Texas -- 61 personas murieron En 2008 recreando en bote en las aguas de Texas. Ésta fue la cifra más alta de más que una década, igualando la temporada trágica de 2002. Sin embargo, aún más alarmante es que en 2002 se registraban más que 620,000 vehículos acuáticos en el estado. Seis años después, no hay más que alrededor de 591,000 botes registrados.
Estos datos les preocupan mucho a los oficiales estatales, federales, y locales. La seguridad en bote será el tema de una serie de eventos este verano que viene, comenzando con la Semana Nacional de Seguridad en Bote o National Safe Boating Week. El primer evento es el 16 de mayo en el Lago Lewisville.
"Sin duda, la tendencia se va al revés en Texas, hacia más accidentes," dijo Major Alfonso Campos, Guardia de Vida Silvestre del Departamento de Parques y Vida Silvestre de Texas y jefe de la seguridad marina. "La tragedia verdadera es que casi todas las fatalidades que experimentamos el año pasado se podrían haber prevenido."
Campos indicó que 59 de las 61 accidentes mortales de 2008 involucraron sólo un bote. En otras palabras, estas muertes fueron el resultado de botes que se volcaron, botes que chocaron con algo, o pasajeros que cayeron en el agua.
"Hay tres cosas que animamos a todos a hacer para prevenir daños graves y muertes en el agua," dijo Campos. "Primero, hay que llevar chaleco salvavidas. Los salvavidas hinchables nuevos son ligeros y cómodos, y sí salvan las vidas. Segundo, no tomen alcohol mientras que operen un bote. Si tienen alcohol en el bote, hay que designar un conductor sobrio, igual que lo harían con sus autos. Tercero, inscríbanse en un curso de educación para el uso de botes o Boater Education Course. Las investigaciones revelan que la educación para el uso de botes o puede cortar el índice de accidentes por la mitad, y que todos, incluso ellos con más experiencia, beneficien por participar en un curso básico de seis horas."
Todos los eventos de la Semana de Seguridad en Barco del 16 hasta el 22 de mayo les ofrecerán a los medios de prensa unos paseos en bote o ride-alongs con las patrullas de las Guardias de Vida Silvestre de Texas, con agencias locales del cumplimiento de la ley, y en los lagos mantenidos por el Cuerpo de Ingenieros del Ejercito Estadounidense o U.S. Army Corps of Engineers con los Guardaparques del USACE.
Eventos Regionales
El evento del Lago Lewisville se llevará a cabo conjuntamente con el evento Seguridad en la Orillas, patrocinado por la Coalición para la Seguridad Acuática del Norte de Texas o North Texas Water Safety Coalition, en el parque Westlake. Comienza sábado el 16 de mayo a las 11 de la mañana, con la caleta "Party Cove" en el fondo. La prensa se permitirá dar paseos con las patrullas o ride-alongs.
En el Lago Canyon, cerca de New Braunfels, el Randolph Recreation Area será sede de un evento para la prensa de las 11 de la mañana hasta la una de la tarde, lunes el 18 de mayo, patrocinado por la Coalición de Seguridad en Agua del Centro Sur de Texas. Se permitirán paseos con las patrullas o ride-alongs.
En Austin, el Lake Travis Task Force presentará un evento al mediodía para la prensa jueves el 21 de mayo en el Mansfield Dam Recreation Area. Se permitirán paseos con las patrullas o ride-alongs. Se destacará un programa nueva, el préstamo de chalecos salvavidas o Life Jacket Loaner Program.
En un evento para la prensa en Papa's on the Lake del Lago Conroe, viernes el 22 de mayo representantes del Departamento de Parques y Vida Silvestre de Texas (TPWD por sus siglas en inglés), la Autoridad del Río San Jacinto, el Houston Sail and Power Squadron¸ el Concilio de la Seguridad en Bote de Houston, la Oficina del Abogado de districto del Condado Montgomery, y el Constábulo del Precinto 1 del Condado de Montgomery destacarán sus esfuerzos allí en el área de la seguridad de operadores de botes.
El fin de semana en que se recuerda a los caídos en la guerra, Memorial Day Weekend, se planea un fin de semana de "no rehúso" para todo el Condado de Montgomery, enfocado en el Lago Conroe. Durante los fines de semana de "no rehúso," se utilizan jueces en sitio, órdenes de allanamiento, y extracciones de sangre para juntar evidencia contra individuos sospechados de operar botes o manejar coches bajo la influencia de alcohol. Alcoholímetros móviles patrullarán por el lago. La campaña de Lake Conroe es la primera que enfoca en una masa de agua pública. El evento para la prensa comienza a las 11:30 de la mañana.
El Escuadrón de Marineros y Operadores de Botes Motorizados o Houston Sail and Power Squadron también hará inspecciones complementarias de la seguridad de botes en las rampas de Lake Conroe el 16 y el 23 de mayo.
La aplicación de las leyes de seguridad en bote es sólo un aspecto de una campaña estatal bien coordinada por todo el próximo verano que incluirá varios eventos educacionales de Nadie es a Prueba del Agua o Nobody's Waterproof por todo el estado.
Los filiales locales de prensa recibirán más detalles avanzados sobre los eventos en su área listados arriba. Contactos locales que son expertos en la seguridad en bote y en la aplicación de la ley están disponibles para hacer entrevistas en cualquier hora. Representantes hispanohablantes están disponibles en la mayoría de estos áreas.
On the Net:
This release in English: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/releases/?req=20090507b