State scientists find temperature, water level affects numbers of bass in lake

LAKE BUCHANAN — Because of its warm temperatures, Lake Buchanan is not necessarily the best habitat for striped bass, according to a pair of fisheries experts.

"Buchanan is likely near its limit for striped bass," Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. Fisheries Research Biologist Dr. Nate Smith told the Lake Buchanan Conservation Corp. earlier this week.

"For warmer reservoirs (such as Lake Buchanan), stocking hybrid bass into the water may be the only option," Smith said. "They are much more temperature tolerant. They can live in water that is a lot warmer than striped bass can."

Along with Dr. Dan Daughtery, Smith presented LBCC members with an overview of their most recent research related to fish and their habitat in the lake.

Lake Buchanan’s water level is a key factor in determining how well bass will reproduce from year to year, Daughtery said.

“We definitely see a relationship between how the waters fluctuate and bass reproduction,” he said.

As the Lake Buchanan level rises, better aquatic conditions exist for more bass reproduction, Daughtery said.

Even a 1-foot drop in the water level can disturb the bass environment and limit their reproduction, he added.

“Generally, as you drop in water level, you lose a lot of good habitat and reproduction decreases,” Daughtery said.

TPWD officials have recently attached electronic tags to several fish to help monitor and record the movements of bass through the lake, Smith said.

Their research related to bass and other fish may determine the best environmental conditions for reproduction and influence how the Lower Colorado River Authority adjusts the level of lakes Buchanan and Travis in the future, Smith said.

“Our data may change how they (LCRA water managers) release water between the two reservoirs,” Smith added.

However, TPWD needs to continue its research in Lake Buchanan and other points along the Colorado River before LCRA changes any of its operations for the sake of bass and access to the fish by anglers, Smith said.

“We are not quite there yet,” he added. “We are on our way, but we do not have all the answers.”

In other business, LBCC Vice President Ron Abshier announced the group plans to plant trees April 26 in Lake Buchanan off Shaw Island.

The trees will help protect the fish habitat, Abshier said.

Also, Abshier asked LBCC members in upcoming weeks to save the heads of legally caught fish, put them in plastic bags and turn them over to TPWD officials.

TPWD needs at least 100 heads to help determine the ages of fish recently stocked in the lake, Abshier said.

LBCC will hold its second annual golf tournament 1 p.m. May 15 at the Delaware Springs Municipal Golf Course, 600 Delaware Springs Blvd. Building 1 in Burnet. For more information or to sign up for the tourney, visit www.LakeBuchananCC.org.

LBCC meets 7 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month at the Lower Colorado River Authority Western District Complex, 8347 RR 1431 near the intersection with Texas 29, also known as “Fuzzy’s Corner.”

raymond@thepicayune.com

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