Lake Buchanan has healthy resurgence; state of the lake is June 21

The annual stocking of Lake Buchanan with hybrid striped bass fry was carried out March 21 by the Lake Buchanan Conservation Corp. Shown introducing the fish into the lake is LBCC member and fishing guide, Max Milam, of Ken Milam Fishing Guide Service. This year’s stocking consisted of 1 million of the fry and brings the total number stocked into the lake by the LBCC over the past 10 years to more than 9 million. Visiting anglers are harvesting large numbers of keeper-size hybrids with new lake records being established and re-established within short periods of time. Courtesy photo

The annual stocking of Lake Buchanan with hybrid striped bass fry was carried out March 21 by the Lake Buchanan Conservation Corp. Shown introducing the fish into the lake is LBCC member and fishing guide, Max Milam, of Ken Milam Fishing Guide Service. This year’s stocking consisted of 1 million of the fry and brings the total number stocked into the lake by the LBCC over the past 10 years to more than 9 million. Visiting anglers are harvesting large numbers of keeper-size hybrids with new lake records being established and re-established within short periods of time. Courtesy photo

DANIEL CLIFTON • EDITOR

BUCHANAN DAM — Lake Buchanan has experienced the spectrum of ups and downs the past several years, going from historic low inflows to four open floodgates recently, leaving people wondering, “How is Lake Buchanan doing?”

Fortunately, Marco De Jesus, a fisheries management biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, will be in town June 21 to answer that question. The Lake Buchanan Conservation Corp. and the Buchanan Dam/Inks Lake Chamber of Commerce are hosting a State of the Lake at Hill Country Hall, 15675 Texas 29. The event starts at 7 p.m.

De Jesus is the fisheries biologist who oversees Lake Buchanan and the other Highland Lakes. But this program will concentrate on Lake Buchanan.

Since 2007, Lake Buchanan water levels dropped to historic lows. During several years, the inflows from the Colorado River were among the lowest amounts in the lake’s history. This raised questions regarding the health of the lake’s environment, habitat and fishery.

The LBCC has continued to stock the lake with hybrid striped bass (fry and fingerlings) over those years. But the lake also includes a number of other important species such as white bass, largemouth bass, catfish and crappie.

White bass, which require rivers and streams with moving water to spawn, were one species about which local anglers, business owners and others had the most questions. But Annette Gardner, a member of the LBCC and director of the chamber, said some of those fears have been alleviated as biologists determined that, in some drought years, prevailing winds blowing over shallow parts of the lake and coves simulated the conditions white bass needed to spawn.

“And we’ve still been catching them, even three or more years since the fish couldn’t make it up the Colorado,” she said.

A white bass lifespan is typically in the three-year range.

In February, De Jesus oversaw the gill netting survey of Lake Buchanan during which TPWD staff sampled the fish population by throwing nets into different parts of the lake.

During the June 21 meeting, De Jesus will go over the results of those surveys and what they mean.

Since the drought, Lake Buchanan has enjoyed a resurgence, which started in May 2015 when rains returned to the area.

Then, this spring, rain really boosted the lake, even to the point the Lower Colorado River Authority had to open up four floodgates at Buchanan Dam for a number of days and temporarily close the lake to boaters. The lake was reopened June 10.

“Things definitely look good up here,” Gardner added.

De Jesus will not just talk about the popular gamefish; he’ll also discuss the overall health of Lake Buchanan.

Everyone is invited to attend the meeting.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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