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Llano River bass samplings show definite signs of recovery

Llano River bass samplings

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department aquatic biologists took a sampling of bass populations in the Llano River near Castell in late June. They were encouraged by the number and the health of the juvenile largemouth and Guadalupe bass they found in the river. All indications are that the Llano River is recovering from the October 2018 floods. Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

The Llano River is showing signs of recovery from the October 2018 flood.

The latest indication comes from fish samplings in late June by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department aquatic biologists. They conducted the survey on the Llano River near Castell and found large numbers of juvenile largemouth and Guadalupe bass now present in the river.

It’s good news for anglers and the habitat as the future of the renowned bass fishery looks promising.

The aquatic biologists sampled 10 different sites. Preston Bean, who is heading up the study on the river’s recovery, reported that Guadalupe bass made up 26 percent of the total catch.

“Most Guadalupe bass we collected were spawned this spring, and the average length was 2.2 inches,” he said in a TPWD media release. “The fish appeared to be feeding heavily and had excellent body condition.”

A thriving juvenile population means anglers can expect more mature fish in the future, but it will take time for keeper-size bass to reach pre-flood numbers. According to TPWD officials, it will likely take several years before good numbers of larger bass are available for anglers in the most affected stretches of the river.

It’s not just the juvenile bass samplings that indicate the Llano River is recovering. Archie Grubh, a TPWD aquatic entomologist, reported seeing a steady repopulation of invertebrate populations in the river, which means plenty of food for fish.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will conduct follow-up surveys of fish, habitat, and invertebrates in the months ahead. Scientists also plan to monitor aquatic invasive species that often spread after floods.

While the October flood changed the Llano River in many ways, it is recovering. It will just take time.

“Keep in mind (that), last year, the Llano River was getting affected by a 100-year flood event that significantly altered its fish habitat,” said John Botros, TPWD’s River Access Program coordinator. “Many anglers and local landowners expressed concern to us about the status of the fish population following this catastrophic flooding. While the abundance of fish in the river is lower than it was before the flood, we are happy to report that fish populations are showing signs of recovery.”

More information on the 2018 Llano River flood, including details on changes to aquatic and riparian habitats, can be found on the Llano River Watershed Alliance website.