|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2017-05-02                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than a year old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
May 2, 2017
Inaugural Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest to Benefit TPWD Youth Fishing Programs
AUSTIN - The inaugural Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest (TBTF) scheduled for May 17-21 on Sam Rayburn Reservoir may be replacing the Toyota Texas Bass Classic (TTBC), but the support for youth fishing outreach initiatives in Texas and the fish-friendly catch, weigh and immediate release tournament format lives on.
"We now have Gulf States Toyota, Toyota Motor Corporation and B.A.S.S. all coming together to provide this new tournament to benefit Texas Parks and Wildlife Department," said Dave Terre, chief of Inland Fisheries Management and Research. "The tournament is under a new sponsorship arrangement - and a new name - but the funds that are generated out of this event will continue to build and continue to support youth fishing outreach initiatives in the state."
The programs supported by the TTBC (which generated more than $2 million in 10 years) will continue to be supported by the TBTF, including the Neighborhood Fishin' Program, which brings fishing to families in 18 urban areas, and the Texas Division of the Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest, which seeks to interest youth in grades K-12 in fishing.
The TBTF is the first regular-season Bassmaster Elite Series tournament to use the catch, weigh and immediate release format that the TTBC pioneered more than a decade ago. The new partnership with B.A.S.S. provides TPWD with a unique opportunity to showcase it to a much larger audience of bass anglers across the country, Terre said.
Trained judges will be on each angler's boat during the tournament to measure, weigh, record and report each fish before it is released from the boat. Terre said this format maximizes the survival of tournament-caught fish by eliminating the delayed mortality associated with catching, handling and keeping the fish in live wells.
"This is a big deal for tournament bass fishing, no doubt," Terre said. "We did it in the TTBC for 10 years and it really has its feet now. It presents an alternative format to the world of professional bass fishing and has moved the needle in the direction of fish care and conservation."
At the end of each fishing day the anglers will bring one fish over 21 inches to the George H. Henderson Jr. Expo Center in Lufkin for fans and spectators to see at the 4:30 p.m. tournament weigh-in. TPWD inland fisheries staff will provide fish care during the weigh-in process and transport the fish back to the lake.
Saturday and Sunday starting at 10 a.m. families can visit the TPWD Outdoor Adventures Area, which is part of the Bassmaster Elite Series Outdoors Expo, and explore the fish fundamentals aquarium, Silvercloud Photo Booth Trailer, Take Me Fishing Trailer, Toyota ShareLunker Trailer, Operation Game Thief trailer and wall of shame, Water U Doing Roadtrip exhibit, Track N Scat exhibit and help create Texas State Fish Art. Experts will also be teaching kids and parents about archery, casting, coastal fisheries, Daisy air guns, invasive species awareness, Texas Paddling Trails, Texas State Parks and bass management.
The list of vendor booths has greatly expanded this year to include dozens of tackle and fishing gear manufacturers and boat companies. Toyota Ride and Drive will also be on-site giving free rides to qualified drivers at the event.
Sunday will be Military and Public Safety Personnel Day and some vendors will offer discounts. (Bring your official I.D. to receive a Bassmaster hat.)
Although the tournament will not feature a concert as the TTBC did in years past, fishing fans will have a unique opportunity to meet their favorite pros Saturday as the anglers take a day off to participate in seminars at Bassmaster University and mingle at the expo.
A free shuttle will be available at the expo Saturday and Sunday to take fans and spectators to Cassels-Boykin Park for free boat and motor demo rides on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, which has been rated by Bassmaster Magazine as one of the Top 100 Best Bass Lakes in the nation for several years.
"Sam Rayburn Reservoir is a huge achievement in fisheries management success," Terre said. "It's one of Texas' great bass fisheries - it's produced 26 ShareLunker bass in the past, it's hosted huge tournaments in the past that were very successful, and we've stocked Florida bass there for years. The anglers are going to catch them, big time."
Full schedule for the event:
--Wednesday, May 17, first tournament day full 109 angler field
--Thursday, May 18, second tournament day full 109 angler field
--Friday, May 19, third tournament day field cut to Top 51
--Saturday, May 20, TBTF Fan Appreciation day (off day)
--Sunday, May 21, Championship Sunday Field cut to Top 12
To learn more, visit Bassmaster online.

[ Note: This item is more than a year old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
May 2, 2017
Lesser Known Parks Offer Exciting Alternative to Crowds, Closures
AUSTIN-- With their popularity soaring, visitation at Texas State Parks has increased by more than half a million visits in the past four years, making entrance into the system's more popular sites difficult. Instead of waiting in line to enter a park, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff are recommending visitors explore some of the area's lesser known sites that offer park goers less crowds and unique experiences for their family adventures.
On a regular basis, many popular sites such as Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Garner State Park, Government Canyon State Natural Area and Pedernales Falls State Park are having to close their gates early due to reaching the park's visitor capacity.
These daily capacity limits are put into place at Texas State Parks to reduce the impact to natural resources, enhance the visitor experience and ensure the safety of park goers. Any campers with reservations will be allowed in to the park when gates are closed.
The parks closing most often are Balmorhea State Park, Brazos Bend State Park, Colorado Bend State Park, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Garner State Park, Government Canyon State Natural Area, Guadalupe River State Park, Inks Lake State Park, McKinney Falls State Park, Ray Roberts Lake State Park- Isle du Bois Unit and Pedernales Falls State Park.
For those set on visiting popular state parks, an alternative option to enter the site would be to visit on non-peak days such as weekdays.
Most parks update their Twitter pages notifying future visitors about closures. The Twitter handles for parks can be found on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department social media page. For visitors who don't have Twitter, recent tweets about capacity can be found on the individual park page on the TPWD website.
Instead of waiting in line for the gates to reopen, visitors are encouraged to consider the following alternatives to their favorite central Texas state parks.
Lost Maples State Natural Area, Hill Country State Natural Area and Kickapoo Cavern State Park are three sites located within an hour of the beloved Garner State Park.
Lost Maples State Natural Area in Vanderpool is most known for its colorful display of fall foliage, but the park is much less crowded during the remainder of the year. The park has more than 10 miles of trails, including a trail that takes hikers along the top of a 2,200 foot cliff with a spectacular view of the hill country. The Sabinal River and Can Creek also run through the park and offer visitors a chance to cast a line. No fishing license is needed to fish in a state park or natural area, so it's a great way to learn to fish in different areas of the state. If visitors want to stay overnight, Lost Maples also offers 30 campsites with water and electricity and six primitive campsites.
Hill Country State Natural Area in Bandera County covers more than 5,300 acres, with approximately 40 miles of multiuse trails that wind up grassy valleys, cross spring-fed streams, and climb steep limestone hills. The West Verde Creek has spring-fed streams, and tanks in the park provide several swimming holes with limited fishing for catfish, perch and largemouth bass. Spring water is available for horses, but people should bring their own drinking water.
Large numbers of birds live in the site along with deer, armadillos, raccoons, ringtail cats, and rabbits, as well as various reptiles. Several different plant communities exist in the park, providing a range of habitats and illustrating the variety of the central Texas landscape.
Just south of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and Pedernales Falls State Park lie four hidden gems waiting to be discovered- Old Tunnel State Park, Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, Blanco State Park and South Llano River State Park.
At Old Tunnel State Park near Fredericksburg visitors can enjoy hiking, bird-watching and general wildlife viewing on a half-mile nature trail. The highlight of a visit to Old Tunnel is the opportunity to view the emergence of a bat colony from the tunnel from May through October. Visitors can view the bats from an upper viewing area located above the tunnel, from the lower viewing area tour just outside of the tunnel, or by making special group tour reservations for an adult or youth group. During emergence, the bats spiral upwards in a counter-clockwise direction in order to gain altitude. Aerial predators, such as red-tailed hawks, are sometimes seen catching bats as they emerge and terrestrial predators, such as raccoons, feed on fallen bats. The large, serpentine column of bats can travel as high as 10,000 feet and 60 miles each night to feed on agricultural pests such as the corn earworm, cutworm and webworm moths. Each bat can eat its weight in insects nightly, and the Old Tunnel colony by itself may devour over 25 tons of moths in one night.
Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site in Stonewall is a day use park that offers a one-of-a-kind way to discover the life history of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The park offers opportunities to picnic, fish, swim, and view the nature and wildlife that call the hill country home including part of the Official Texas State Longhorn Herd. The park also houses the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Fam, which gives visitors a taste of life as it was in 1918. The interpreters wear period clothing, do the farm and household chores and conduct tours of the farm and house for visitors.
Just off highway 281 in Blanco lies Blanco State Park. This park offers a one-mile stretch of river for visitors to enjoy through fishing, swimming or paddling. Blanco State Park is part of the tackle-loaner program, meaning park goers can borrow a rod and reel from the park headquarters to use while at the park. This program is a great way to introduce the sport of fishing without having to make the initial investment. The park also offers areas for picnics, trails to hike and watch for wildlife and geocaching. Geocaching is a virtual scavenger hunt that helps visitors use a GPS to find hidden caches hidden around the state, including state parks.
For a map of all Texas State Parks, visit www.texasstateparks.org or download the Texas State Parks Mobile App, which can be found on iTunes and Google Play.