OUTDOORS: Rains boost stockings

Widespread rains in spring raised lakes to levels not seen in years, and lakes were stocked to take advantage of improved habitat.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department freshwater fisheries had a better-than-expected production year for Florida largemouth bass, blue catfish, striped bass and palmetto bass – making all of them more available.
TPWD has five inland fish hatcheries; however, one is currently closed due to water supply problems.
Regardless, in 2015, the department produced and stocked nearly 500,000 channel catfish fingerlings, 800,000 blue catfish fingerlings, 4.8 million striped bass and other fingerlings including Guadalupe bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill and largemouth bass.
Spring rains also brought reservoirs to levels great for the habitat of those fingerlings.
When reservoir levels go down for several years, vegetation grows up in the dry lake bottom. When levels rise, the flooded vegetation gives little fish a place to hide from predators.
Nutrients are released into the water, and it jumpstarts the food chain.
Spawns from resident fish also benefit from the higher water levels.
The TPWD reports fishing should see a significant improvement during the next several years, and predator species like bass and striped bass will have plenty to eat and grow quickly.
Information on stocking procedures may be found at: tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/management/stocking.
For more information, call your local TPWD biologist.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries technicians Steven Hise (left) and Wes Dutter transfer striped bass fingerlings from the hauling trailer to containers on board a boat in preparation for stocking them in Possum Kingdom Reservoir located in Young County. Possum Kingdom received 213,209 Florida largemouth bass fingerlings. (Courtesy photo from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)