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Entries in TPWD (16)

Friday
Jan122018

Texas Considers Simplifying Bass Regs.

Texas fisheries managers are considering simplifying bass regulations statewide.

“Largemouth bass are one of the first species we started managing in the state, and we’ve done a great job managing our bass fisheries through time,” said Dave Terre, chief of Inland Fisheries for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

“Our process has been to use different kinds of regulations for bass to accomplish specific management goals. With these potential changes, we still hope to attain the same management goals, but we are trying to reduce the number and kinds of special regulations with the goal of making them less complicated, more easily understood and enforceable.”

Under the recommendations that TPWD recently previewed to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, 12 of 18 lakes with special regulations would revert to the statewide 14-inch minimum length limit, which governs nearly 80 percent of the state's waterbodies. The other six would see changes appropriate to the population dynamics of those fisheries.

Granbury, Possum Kingdom, Ratcliff, Bryan, Cooper, Old Mount Pleasant City, Bridgeport, Burke-Crenshaw, Georgetown, Madisonville, San Augustine, and Sweetwater would be managed under the statewide length limit.

Meanwhile, TPWD is considering a change from the 14-to-24-inch slot length limit to a 16-24 slot for Fayette County Reservoir, Gibbons Creek Reservoir, and Lake Monticello. Additionally, Grapevine Lake would change to no minimum length limit with a bag limit of five fish of which only two can be less than 18 inches. Purtis Creek State Park Lake and Lake Raven would change from catch and release only to a five-fish daily bag and a 16-inch maximum length limit. The 16-24 slot and 16-inch maximum limits include provisions for anglers to possess bass 24 inches or longer for possible submission to the Toyota ShareLunker program.

“Our goal is for anglers to see less variation of the largemouth bass rules when they visit Texas lakes,” Terre said. “But we are doing this without sacrificing our standards of making the bass fishing great. We hold that high and true for our fisheries.”

Before these changes were considered, he added, district fisheries biologists looked carefully at the special regulations to determine if they met current largemouth bass goals and objectives at each reservoir. In some cases, such as those lakes with 14-18 slot length limits and  16- and 18-inch minimum length limits, biologists found the regulations had little or mixed results on the bass population when compared to the statewide limit. Reservoirs having a 14-24 slot length limit or catch and release only were moved to other successful regulation types to reduce regulation complexity without compromising fishery management goals.

Early in 2018, Inland Fisheries staff  officially will present these possible changes to the commission. If the commission approves, the proposed changes will be published in the Texas Register, which begins the process of official public comment.

Wednesday
Dec202017

Texas' TrophyCatch Expands Opportunities For Anglers

 

For more than 30 years, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Toyota ShareLunker Program has partnered with anglers to enhance bass fishing in Texas. This year, the program is launching Jan. 1, 2018, with a new year-round participation season and more opportunities for anglers to participate and be recognized for contributions. The program also has a new logo and look that conveys the excitement of catching a lunker bass.

“Angler recognition continues to be a primary goal of the Toyota ShareLunker program,” said Kyle Brookshear, Toyota ShareLunker program coordinator.

“This year for the first time ever anglers who catch a largemouth bass 8 pounds or larger can participate simply by providing important catch information for us to use to improve bass fisheries science. We will be recognizing and rewarding these anglers as well as those anglers who loan their lunker bass weighing 13 pound or greater to our breeding program during the spawning season.”


The four new levels of achievement are as follows:

Lunker Legacy Class: Every angler who loans a 13 pound or larger bass to the Toyota ShareLunker program during the spawning period Jan. 1 to March 31 will join the prestigious Lunker Legacy Class. These valuable fish are an integral piece of the Toyota ShareLunker selective breeding and stocking program and anglers will be eligible for an exciting prize package commensurate with the importance of sharing their lunker. Each Lunker Legacy Class angler will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ Legacy decal, VIP access to awards programing at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. These anglers will also be entered into the Legacy Class Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license at the end of the spawning period March 31. Additional prizes may be included in both of these prize drawings prior to their entry deadlines.

Lunker Legend Class: Anglers who enter a 13 pound or larger largemouth bass Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will become a part of the Lunker Legend Class. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ decal to display their achievement, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.

Lunker Elite Class: Anglers catching double-digit largemouth bass 10 to 12.99 pounds Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will become a part of the Lunker Elite Class. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 10lb+ decal to display their achievement, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.

Lunker Class: Anglers entering largemouth bass at least 8 pounds or 24 inches Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will be recognized at the Lunker Class level. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, an 8lb+ decal to display their achievement, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.

A new logo and new tagline, “Bigger Better Bass,” highlight the branding changes to the program, which also includes new Toyota ShareLunker branded merchandise for prizes, updated marketing materials and a new website and mobile application to make it easy to enter your catch in the program and keep up with the latest ShareLunker news

Starting Jan. 1, anglers will now be able to quickly enter their catch on their smartphone using the new Toyota ShareLunker mobile application, which will be available for free download in the iTunes app store and on Google play or online on the new Toyota ShareLunker website. The digital entry forms will allow anglers to easily submit photos of the fish being properly measured, weighed and held. Other entry criteria will be detailed on the website and mobile application Jan. 1, the official start of the new yearlong season.

In addition to providing information and photos of their fish, anglers will also be able to provide a genetic sample of their largemouth bass by collecting and sending fish scales to TPWD using simple instructions from the app and website. These data will help fisheries biologists evaluate the impact of the ShareLunker breeding and stocking program in the gene pool.

“Monitoring the impact of ShareLunker stockings is critical to evaluating the success of the program,” Brookshear said. “That’s why the citizen scientist piece is so important – we need anglers to help us better understand the populations of our biggest bass in Texas and we are excited to offer exciting prizes in exchange for providing us with the information and genetic material from their lunker catches.”

Hatcheries staff will also attempt to spawn all eligible ShareLunkers 13 pounds or larger donated between Jan. 1 and March 31. Offspring of female genetic intergrades will be combined and stocked back to the source locations for all ShareLunker entries for the year, and genetically pure offspring will be maintained at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens and eventually distributed to all TPWD production hatcheries to be used as brood stock for statewide largemouth bass stockings.

“Our goal is for all hatchery-held Florida largemouth bass brood stock to eventually be the descendants of ShareLunkers,” Brookshear said. “Increasing the percentage of ShareLunker offspring being introduced into Texas waters is an important part of increasing the lunker genetic potential in the state. We are incredibly grateful for anglers who choose to loan us these valuable fish and we are looking forward to continuing our efforts to make Texas fishing bigger and better with the selective breeding program.”

For program updates, photos and to keep up with Texas lunker catches, join the ShareLunker community online at Facebook.

More details on the shopping spree and other prizes for ShareLunker entries will be finalized and shared in the near future.

The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a longtime supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.



Monday
Oct162017

Did Hurricanes Damage Fisheries in Texas, Florida?

Thus far, resource managers are breathing a sigh of relief in the wake of powerful Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that hammered east Texas and the entire Florida peninsula, as damage to fisheries seems minimal. Long-term impacts, however, particularly in the Sunshine State, could be more significant. Biologists will assess and monitor for months.

Harvey did little or no damage to bass fisheries in east Texas, including Toledo Bend, according to Todd Driscoll with Texas Parks and Wildlife.  

"Based on what we know now, it appears that Harvey effects weren’t that severe on the Sabine, Neches and Taylor systems," he explained.

"Right now, there's a multi-divisional effort to assess what's happened to our water bodies and our freshwater and upland habitats as well," said Ryan Hamm with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). "But we still have high water everywhere."

FWC's Allen Martin added, "In general, impacts were less than with earlier hurricanes that ripped out vegetation. We're not sure why that didn't happen this time."

"Given all the flood-related damage, very few are fishing in these areas, but from the limited reports I’ve heard the local anglers are catching fish. There have been no reports of any fish kills due to Harvey.          

"Historically, saltwater intrusion from hurricane-related surge is what has wreaked havoc on the fish populations in these systems," he added. "With Harvey, these systems escaped the saltwater surge. It seems that the historic flooding did not significantly affect the bass populations, but we will know more later this fall after our electrofishing survey, and when local anglers get back on the water."

In Florida, meanwhile, fish died on both the Withlacoochee and St. Johns Rivers, kills not unexpected – or catastrophic – considering the vulnerability of those systems. Minor die-offs continue to be reported elsewhere as well.

"Right now, there's a multi-divisional effort to assess what's happened to our water bodies and our freshwater and upland habitats as well," said Ryan Hamm with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). "But we still have high water everywhere."

FWC's Allen Martin added, "In general, impacts were less than with earlier hurricanes that ripped out vegetation. We're not sure why that didn't happen this time."

Read my full story about this at Bassmaster.com. Under the Nation tab, click on Conservation.

Monday
Oct022017

Toyota ShareLunker Program Goes New Year Around, Starting Jan. 1

After more than 31 years of collecting and spawning 13 pound or larger "lunker" largemouth bass, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's (TPWD) Toyota ShareLunker Program is announcing big changes and an expanded mission in an effort to better engage the public in the promotion and enhancement of lunker bass fishing in Texas public waters.

The ShareLunker participation season will now run each year from Jan.1 through Dec. 31; a change from previous seasons. But similar to last year, only those entries collected between Jan. 1 – March 31 will be accepted as broodstock for spawning.

"This provides the greatest opportunity to obtain eligible fish for spawning while minimizing the risk of additional handling and possible mortality," said Kyle Brookshear, ShareLunker program coordinator.

Outside of the spawning window, the new year-round participation season will allow for anglers catching bass 8 pounds or larger to submit information about their catch through a web application in four categories: 8 pounds or larger, 10 pounds or larger, 13 pounds or larger and 13 pounds or larger with a spawning donation.

The goal is to increase the number of participants in the Toyota ShareLunker program and expand large fish catch rate data for fisheries biologists, Brookshear said. As a bonus, the new size categories open up more ways for anglers to receive prizes and incentives for participating.

"This citizen scientist initiative will allow fisheries biologists to better monitor the impact of ShareLunker stockings across Texas and provide more incentives and opportunities for Texans to help us make our bass fishing bigger and better than ever," Brookshear said.

Other spawning program changes include converting the entire hatchery broodstock to pure-Florida ShareLunker offspring. Genetically pure offspring will be maintained on the hatchery, grown to adulthood, then distributed to production hatcheries and used as broodstock. Eventually, all hatchery-held Florida largemouth bass broodstock will be descendants of ShareLunkers, Brookshear said.

Additionally, attempts will be made to spawn all donated eligible ShareLunkers — regardless of the degree of genetic introgression. Offspring of female genetic intergrades will be combined and stocked back to the source locations for all ShareLunker entries for the year.

"People come to Texas from all over the country for our lunker bass fishing, and it's still very rare to catch a 13 pounder," said Mandy Scott, Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center director. "So that's why ShareLunker is special. We learned a long time ago that these fish were important and we wanted to try to capitalize on the big fish that we have in Texas already and make fishing even bigger and better."

Brookshear said the program will announce the full list of changes and the new prizes closer to the beginning of the season, but anglers can also look forward to a complete rebranding of the program to include a new logo, graphics, and eventually more ShareLunker Weigh Stations to aid in the weigh-in process. Additionally, education and outreach specialists at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center are developing ShareLunker science curriculum for Texas classrooms.

For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass and a recap of last year's season, go here. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program. Or follow the program on social media.

The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a long-time supporter of the Foundation and TPWD, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.

Monday
May152017

Caddo Angler Catches Second 15-Pounder for ShareLunker Program 

Ronnie Arnold earned himself a unique place in Texas' Toyota ShareLunker program recently, when he landed a 15.7-pound largemouth bass in Caddo Lake, a fishery on the border with Louisiana.

In donating the fish to the trophy bass spawning program managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Arnold became the first angler to enter two fish of 15 pounds or more. In 2009, he caught a 15.1-pound fish, also at Caddo.

Seventeen anglers have multiple entries, including five with three fish. Bill Reed's two were the heaviest pair collectively, with one weighing 16.54 pounds and the other 14.91.

Arnold's catch was the ninth from Caddo donated to the program begun in 1986. The lake record, 16.17, was entered by Keith Burns in 2010. Then, Sean Swank caught the same fish in 2011, when its weigh had dropped slightly to 16.07.

The latest Caddo entry was the third of the spring statewide for ShareLunker and No. 568 since the program began in 1986. It also was the largest since Swank's catch.

With a minimum weight requirement of 13 pounds, the program was established "to promote catch-and-release of large fish and to selectively breed trophy largemouth bass," TPWD said. "The first fish entered into the program was also a new state record, a 17.67-pounder caught from Lake Fork in November (1986)."

The first ShareLunker of the 2017 season, meanwhile, also was historic. Testing revealed the 13.07-pound fish caught at Marine Creek Lake was spawned from ShareLunker 410 and a male ShareLunker offspring. That made it the first of that size from  specially selected trophy-potential parents paired in 2006 as part of a research project to evaluate the growth of selectively bred, faster-growing Florida largemouths in public reservoirs.

“The catch of ShareLunker 566 from Marine Creek Lake not only validates the goal of TPWD’s selective breeding program of producing ShareLunker-size bass, but also demonstrates how anglers can help others by donating their ShareLunkers to TPWD for breeding purposes,” said ShareLunker Program Coordinator Kyle Brookshear.