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Sept. 29, 2003
Bass Survey Update Shows Lake Fork Has Trophy Fishery
AUSTIN, Texas—The initial period of the Lake Fork Trophy Bass Survey is over and to most who know this East Texas reservoir, the survey results are not surprising. To the inexperienced, they may be astonishing.
Lake Fork continues to produce trophy class fish and lots of them. Anglers reported catching a remarkable 1,571 bass that were 7 pounds and heavier from March to August of this year. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist Randy Myers in Tyler, that is equivalent to one trophy catch for every 18 acres of Lake Fork in a six-month time frame.
"Lake Fork’s reputation as the one of the best trophy bass places in Texas and the U.S. is validated by the results of this survey," Myers said. "The results also indicate that any detrimental effects on the reservoir’s bass population from the largemouth bass virus fish kill, low water level, and reduced aquatic plant abundance, all of which occurred in the late 1990’s, were short-lived."
Success of the Lake Fork Trophy Bass Program depends upon participation of anglers, guides, and marinas. Myers said the high level of participation in the survey by these folks during the initial six-month period is truly appreciated and demonstrates their sincere interest in learning more to aid in the management of the reservoir’s important trophy bass fishery.
While the survey numbers are impressive, biologists believe the figures are conservative. Cross-referencing the trophy bass survey data against TPWD creel survey data for Lake Fork suggest perhaps twice as many trophies were actually caught as were reported.
"Reporting trophy catches is easy, takes just a few minutes, and is worth the effort in terms of the important information received," said Kevin Storey, district project leader in Tyler. "Anglers who are currently participating are encouraged to continue reporting their catches and to actively recruit others to report their catches as well.
The Lake Fork trophy bass fishery remains nationally significant, attracting anglers from across the country. The survey showed that anglers traveled from 30 states to fish Lake Fork and they fared well. Of all trophy bass catch reports, 44 percent were made by out-of-state anglers.
"Lake Fork has the reputation of providing anglers an opportunity to catch bass larger than they are accustomed to in their home states or reservoirs," Storey said. "Results of the survey indicate that many of the anglers coming from out of state are very successful at catching Lake Fork trophies."
As expected, spring months, particularly March, are best for catching trophy bass at Lake Fork. This is when the large females leave their deepwater haunts to nest in shallow water and become more accessible to the many anglers on the reservoir this time of the year. In March, anglers reported catching 685 fish heavier than seven pounds, with 16 percent of these fish weighing more than 10 pounds.
The most trophies reported on any given day in March stands at 47. And the days in March when the most catches were made were during the full moon. And in April, 386 trophies were documented as being caught at Lake Fork. However, trophy bass are caught year-round at Lake Fork, thus anglers should not just focus upon only the spring months. Anglers may also consider fishing Fork during the summer and fall when fewer anglers frequent the reservoir.
Catches of largemouth bass heavier than 14 pounds and as long as 29 inches were documented through the trophy fish survey. Fish weighing more than 10 pounds accounted for 14 percent of all trophies reported during the first six months of the survey. A few of the seven pound fish documented caught were only 17 inches long, suggesting that Fork bass have a high weight-to-length ratio. Results of the survey indicate that Fork’s 16-24 inch slot limit is working well, as 29 percent of all fish reported were longer than 24 inches.
The Lake Trophy bass Survey was jointly developed by TPWD, the Lake Fork Sportsman’s Association, and the Lake Fork Chamber of Commerce. Information obtained from the survey will aid in the conservation and management of Lake Fork’s trophy bass. Questions about Lake Fork fishing and the Trophy Bass Survey can be directed to TPWD’s Inland Fisheries office at (903) 593-5077 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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