Use of Propagated Fishes in Altered Environments in Texas
William C. Provine, Richard W. Luebke, Roger L. McCabe, David R. Terre, Robert K. Betsill, Bobby Farquhar, and Todd Engeling
Abstract.—Two hundred years ago, Texas had 118,000 km of streams and rivers flowing unimpeded to the Gulf of Mexico—and one natural lake. Now there are more than 800 impoundments and few unregulated stretches of river. Reservoir construction increased the amount of aquatic habitat in the state, while dramatically changing most of the original habitat. These altered environments present challenges and opportunities to fishery managers charged with maximizing recreational fishing. Water level, flow, thermal regimes, and nutrient dynamics typically reflect human needs for flood control, water supply, and electrical power rather than natural weather patterns or seasonal cycles. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has used propagated fishes to meet the challenges of these altered systems while diversifying fishing opportunities in Texas. Management of these environments necessitated decisions regarding the use of native sport fishes or fishes that were not native to the state but may, because of their habitat requirements or life histories, be more functionally suited to the newly created environments. This agency has created successful and in many cases extremely popular sport fisheries with the use of such fishes as Florida largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides floridanus, northern largemouth bass M. s. salmoides, smallmouth bass M. dolimieu, channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus, striped bass Morone saxatilis, palmetto bass (white bass Morone chrysops × M. saxatilis), walleye Sander vitreus, rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, and red drum Sciaenops ocellatus. As this agency continues its work to maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems and fishing opportunities with increased demand, we expect that the use of propagated fishes may become even more important in the future. This paper discusses the various altered environments we have been charged to manage, the consideration of various sport fishes for these environments and the resulting sport fisheries created through our use of native and nonnative fishes.