Zero Red Drum Stocked by TPWD in 2015 – Bass Coming Out Our Ears

| July 21, 2015

redfish stocking TPWD #TPWD fly fishing texas largemouth bass stocking

This is one of those weeks. It didn’t take long for me to tire of cutting bait, and die to fish. So the first thing we’ve got to do is see what our opportunities are out there for the addiction.

The prime of summer, the fly fishing equinox past around the exact middle of July, with a lot of fly fishing club action in the cool altitude of Colorado. Much of the Northern Texas Gulf Coast has been subjected to the drainages from all over Texas, so that the further south along the salt we go the better it gets right now.

Move inland into Texas fresh water, and we still have major drainage from many rivers and their lakes – controlled, but huge releases are still moving down the Trinity and all the way to the Trinity Bay hundreds of miles away. The TPWD has made no bones about the fact that several lake parks will be closed for the remainder of the summer. I have a call into the writers at TPWD to see if they have a concise updated list of closings, and will add that in the comment section as soon as it arrives.

INTO BASS ON FLY?

In another article that crossed my eyes recently, I read about the TPWD’s conundrum when it comes to annual stocking of species like Florida strain largemouth bass, they know they have to stock the fingerlings somewhere, but are also aware of mortality when these babes are thrown into flooded lakes with high O2 contents. Most of us are aware of the TPWD’s bias toward lakes based on their reputations more than their needs, and you may not be aware TPWD also takes “stocking requests” into consideration. Think about that a minute or two. Here is a link to 2015 fish stocking by TPWD – http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/action/stock_byspecies.php?timeframe=selectyear&species=0138&year=2015&Submit=Go . Three TV lakes that are on the rise are, not surprisingly, atop the stocking list. Toledo Bend, Sam Rayburn and Eagle Mountain Lakes all show 500-thousand plus stocked (each) this year. I will do more research into what makes a “stocking request” work, and how to do it – it can apply to your local pond as well as huge lakes!

Does it really matter how many fat Floridians are dropped in Texas lakes? This year, my uneducated answer is heck no. For example, I’ve seen the habitat created by the flooding on Lake Ray Roberts literally infested with bass fry, bait and fish of all types. That population is vibrant, on the move and well protected. There’s going to be a bump in fish activity for all these lakes that are/were closed, sooner and later.

This pattern of summer downtime has been here before, and it was followed by a fantastic fall of fishing for sand bass on lakes like Ray Roberts, which had all summer to allow those fish to feed with reckless abandon and NO pressure. If all goes well, I will be booking lake trips for schooling sand bass in September. And the blitzes should start soon after that. That’s the SOONER in our sooner and later.

The LATER? Naturally occurring bubbles in population growth of species like largemouth bass and Florida strain largemouth will obviously mean more bass on the fly in a few years. Oxygen contents, zebra mussel clarity and other factors will take their toll, but we are looking at a huge new generation of fish born into the zebra era. Do you think they will adapt to the zebra mussel’s dominant control of clarity and devastating control of the food chain? I always bet on the fish. Always.

And if you are wondering about that other beautiful stocked fish, the red drum? According to TPWD records, no redfish have been stocked this year. That’s a far cry from the 17-million redfish stocked in 2014 (20-million in 2013). Do you think that will have an impact, especially as the slot red drum continue to fill coolers all up and down the coast?

CONCLUSION

I know many of us, myself often included, may think only about as far into the future as which fly color to try next, but my perspective has changed a bit, and continues to do so. Basically, if you overlay the economics of supply, demand and a third line of an unpredictable climate … we have a formula for high amounts of optimism in some areas, and extreme and deep concern in others. Stick around as we continue to look at these windfalls and pitfalls on a more detailed basis for the rest of 2015.

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Category: Science and Environmental, TECHNICAL, Texas Water Conservation

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.

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