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Entries in Lake Conroe (9)

Tuesday
Mar042014

Tourney Raises Funds for Conroe Restoration

During the past two years, the Lake Conroe Big Bass Extravaganza, sponsored by Legend Boats, has raised $6,000 for habitat restoration on this Texas fishery. Most of the funds will be directed toward the PVC habitat structure program, according to Derek Taylor, conservation director of the Seven Coves Bass Club (SCBC).

“Legend had heard of our conservation efforts on Lake Conroe at the 2010 Toyota Texas Bass Classic,” Taylor said. “They contacted us about assisting with the development of a big bass tournament at Lake Conroe.

“We were both humbled and honored that our dedicated conservation work was being noticed nationally in the fishing industry, and that a great company like Legend Boats wanted to work with us.”

Plagued with infestations of exotic vegetation and then an overpopulation of grass carp, Conroe suffered degraded habitat and a declining bass fishery for years. Then Seven Coves started to work, partnering with a variety of local, state, and national entities to restrict invasive plants and restore the fishery. Much of the effort has been directed at raising and planting beneficial native vegetation.

“This project benefits the environment by reducing harmful exotic vegetation in a sustainable manner, increasing sustainable native habitat for fish and other wildlife, sequestering harmful nutrients, reducing bank erosion, and stabilizing bottom sediments,” explained Mark Webb, a Texas Parks and Wildlife fisheries biologist.

During the second extravaganza this past April, Grant Rogers caught a 9.86-pound largemouth to win a custom Legend bass boat, as well as a $400 hourly prize.

Four prizes were awarded each hour, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the two-day event.

“While many volunteered to work the 130-angler event, SCBC members who fished the event also took home 13 checks for more than $3,800,” Taylor said.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Tuesday
Jan212014

Angler Aid Needed to Revitalize Reservoirs

Dale Hollow photo by Robert Montgomery

Exclusive of the Great Lakes, more than 84 percent of freshwater anglers fish in lakes and reservoirs. With about 10,000 of them larger than 250 acres, manmade impoundments are especially important.

“Our generation has never known an America without reservoirs,” said Alton Jones, 2008 Bassmaster Classic winner.

But for far too long, reservoirs have been enduring a quiet death. As a result, the number who fish them, as well as natural lakes, has declined from about 45 million during the mid 1980s to 23 million in 2011.

What’s going on?

“Reservoirs may look like natural lakes, but they were created by people, and they must be cared for by people,” said Jones, a Texan well acquainted with the value of manmade waters.  “As they age, the quality of fish habitat declines, and so does the quality of fishing.”

Additionally, few reservoirs are being built anymore.

That’s why Jones is helping spread the word to anglers about the Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership (RFHP) and its ambitious goal to revitalize these fisheries, most of which are 50 years old or more.

Aging degrades reservoirs, just as it does natural lakes. But the process is much more accelerated in manmade waters. Flooded timber decays and dissolves. Upstream sedimentation fills in backwaters and shallow areas. Water quality declines because of nutrient runoff and other pollution.

“We’re way behind in addressing these issues,” said Jeff Boxrucker, RFHP coordinator.

That opinion is echoed not only by Jones, but by Dave Terre, chief of fisheries management and research for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

“Fishing is still great,” Terre added. “But we need to restore habitat for now and future generations to keep the reservoirs functioning. And there’s no way that funding from state agencies is sufficient to tackle these problems.

“We need anglers and the fishing industry to be more pro-active. We need to all work together to improve fishing and water quality.”

A couple of notable examples, Table Rock in Missouri and Arkansas and Conroe in Texas, highlight how it can be done.

Work on Table Rock began in 2007, as a pilot program of sorts for National Fish Habitat Partnership, which spawned the reservoir partnership two years later. Partners include the Missouri Department of Conservation, Arkansas Game and Fish, Bass Pro Shops, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, assisted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Thus far, 1,869 cedar and hardwood structures have been sunk in the reservoir, along with 114 rock structures and 76 stump fields. Twenty-six rock fences also have been added, as have 11 piles of stumps and rocks.

Assessment of what works best and where has been ongoing, according to Missouri’s Mike Allen.

“We have seen slight improvement (in the fishing), but we only have three years of sampling and we need more.”

Both creel and internet surveys revealed that 95 to 99 percent of anglers support the $4 million project, which is scheduled to end in December.

“We hope to do continuing work, but not through the current structure,” Allen said. “We are working to become a member of Friends of Reservoirs (FOR).”

FOR was created to provide non-profit funding and  grassroots manpower for reservoir restoration projects, with Seven Coves Bass Club at Lake Conroe the first chapter. Work there has focused on establishing native vegetation while controlling invasive hydrilla. The club even established its own nursery for growing beneficial plants, and it serves on the Lake Conroe Habitat Improvement Project Coalition with TPWD and other others.

Earlier this year, the coalition was honored with the Texas Environmental Award by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.”

“Members are committed, passionate, and respected,” Terre said.

Serving as an adopt-a-lake program with individuals, non-government groups, and agencies all working together, FOR now has 13 chapters involving 11 organizations, 35 individuals, and 3 corporate sponsors. Additionally, 35 states have expressed support for the program, while five projects have been proposed and all of them funded. Financing comes from tax deductible donations, as well as grants, mostly from NFHP funds administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“We would love to have lots of groups operating like Seven Coves Bass Club,” Terre said. “So far, we have seven FOR chapters in Texas. We want to see them in as many states as possible.”

Participating groups can expect to do habitat work, such as sinking brushpiles. But that’s not all they are needed for, according to Boxrucker.

“Of the top seven impairments, only one is happening with the reservoirs themselves,” he said. “The other problems come from outside.”

Based on a nationwide survey of resource managers, RFHP determined that sedimentation is the top problem, with 25 percent  of reservoirs having moderate to high impairment. Insufficient aquatic plants and structural habitat are next, followed by non-point source pollution, excessive nutrients, excessive inorganic turbidity, and “excessive levels of agriculture.”

“We hope to get angling groups started with the habitat work,” Boxrucker explained. “But once we get them involved and have momentum, we want to move upstream, to address other issues.

“We’re treating these reservoirs as parts of river systems. Most of the other partnerships (under the NFHP umbrella) are watershed-oriented, and we’re going to work with them too.”

These collaborative efforts not only will improve fishing, Classic winner Jones added.

“Good fish habitat is the foundation for healthy aquatic life and clean water supplies,” he said. “Water fish live in is the same water you drink. What’s good for the fish is good for you.”    

Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership

The RFHP’s stated mission is “to protect and improve healthy aquatic habitat in reservoir systems for the benefit of fish and wildlife and the enhancement of quality of life for people and their communities.”

Its executive committee includes representatives from B.A.S.S., Bass Pro Shops, state agencies, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Geological Survey.

For more information:

RFHP

Friends of Reservoirs

National Fish Habitat Partnership

Table Rock fish attractor map and survey

 

Wednesday
Sep122012

You Can Compete for $100,000 on Lake Conroe

Now’s the time to sign up for a chance to win $100,000 in the Sharelunker Club Tournament (SCT) on Lake Conroe, Oct. 1-21.

A $100 fee is required to become a member and only pre-registered members will be eligible for the $100,000 prize. The member who catches the largest Toyota ShareLunker from Lake Conroe during the tournament period will win a cash prize of $100,000. A portion of program proceeds will benefit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s youth outreach programs.

Additionally, the SCT will kick off the annual Toyota ShareLunker Program across the state of Texas. It runs through April 30, with the mission of promoting the catch-and-release of large fish and selectively breeding trophy largemouth bass. A bass must weigh at least 13 pounds to be entered in the program.

A press release from Texas Parks and Wildlife says the following:

The ShareLunker Club Tournament is the perfect way to cap off the Toyota Texas Bass Classic and continue the excitement from the event, which will be held on Lake Conroe, Sept. 28-30.  

The Toyota Texas Bass Classic will feature 50 of the best professional anglers in the world along with three days of concerts and expos, with the anglers battling it out to claim the title of the world’s best.

The Toyota Texas Bass Classic tournament functions are operated by the Professional Anglers Association with technical assistance and support from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Inland Fisheries Division. Title sponsor for the event is Toyota.

Limited quantities of free tickets are available this year to the three-day outdoor music festival and professional bass fishing world championship. 

Monday
Jan302012

Standing Timber Cut at Lake Conroe

Standing timber has been cut at Texas’ Lake Conroe. Learn more about this illegal disregard for fish, wildlife, and public safety at The Angler Advocate:

“Habitat is again under attack on Lake Conroe, and those responsible have little regard for fish, wildlife, or public safety. A group of local anglers have discovered some large areas of standing timber that have been recklessly removed by yet unidentified individuals in Live Branch on the South end of the lake.” 

Thursday
Sep012011

Angler Activism Important, But Frustrating

In my years of being a conservation writer for B.A.S.S. Publications, I’ve come to realize that many who buy lakefront property don’t do so because they like natural beauty.

Rather, they want those lakes to be as lifeless as swimming pools, just as they want their lawns to be sterile extensions of their wall-to-wall carpeting.

Preventing this selfish and/or thoughtless destruction of our waters is one of the foremost challenges for activist anglers. Education and outreach are among the best tools, as the Seven Coves Bass Club on Texas’ Lake Conroe has shown.

But anglers also must get involved in the political process by attending public meetings and voicing their opinions. While doing so is critical to protect our waters and our fisheries, it also can be extremely frustrating.

Here’s what an activist angler in the Northeast shared with me regarding his involvement:

“I really wish someone would go with me to these workshops/seminars and maybe they might get involved if they knew just how bad it is.”

Part of his frustration stems from the disregard that lakefront property owners show for the water. One of them told him that he didn’t care if the plants near his dock were beneficial native plants and not troublesome exotics. “I want them gone,” the property owner said.

“These people just don't have a clue and want a quick fix even if means harm to the environment,” says the frustrated activist.

And much of his frustration comes from government ineptness and corruption, including the political cronyism that he sees between bureaucrats and the herbicide industry. He wonders if kickbacks might be going on between herbicide companies and state officials.

“I watched first-hand what was going on at a workshop/seminar held by both and they didn't educate the public,” he says. “If anything, they were recruiting them so they could spread more aquatic herbicides on more lakes and ponds throughout the state.

“They want the lakefront homeowners to 'rake' the lake bottom and 'call' to eradicate the non-native vegetation they find in their lakes.

“You know as well as I do that a lot of aquatic vegetation is very similar to look at, and do you really think the chemical companies would turn down a new client/lake?”

This frustrated activist has tried to get members of his fishing club involved with him, with no success. Meanwhile, he says, the state, property owners, and aquatic herbicide companies have strengthened their reckless herbicide strategy.

I feel his passion and understand his frustration. Unfortunately, most anglers just don’t care enough to get involved.