Frequent stockings keep fishing hot in urban areas.
By Larry D. Hodge
Don’t you wish there were well-stocked ponds close to your home where your family could go fishing — and catch fish? For seven urban areas in Texas, there are, and if TPWD biologists are successful in expanding the current program, anyone living in a major city in Texas can have this wish granted.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stocks channel catfish and, in winter months, rainbow trout, into eight urban lakes in order to provide close-to-home, family-friendly fishing for nearby residents. “Research shows that most people who fish in these urban fishing lakes live within two miles of one of the lakes,” says Bob Betsill, a TPWD Inland Fisheries biologist who is in charge of a pilot program to make fishing even better in some of those lakes.
“We have done fishing programs in cities for many years,” Betsill adds, “but we are interested in expanding it in major metropolitan areas. The goal is to provide year-round, family-oriented fishing opportunities in each of the 25 metropolitan statistical areas in Texas. We now have eight small lakes in the program and are currently evaluating additional ones.”
Key to success of the program is frequent, repeated stockings of catchable-size channel catfish during April, May, June, July, September and October and rainbow trout during winter months. Special regulations allow anglers to keep five fish per day, with no minimum length requirement.
The program sprang from concern over the fact that sales of hunting and fishing licenses in Texas have not kept pace with the growing population, says Bill Provine, chief of management and research for TPWD’s Inland Fisheries Division. “Several years ago, we looked into a study in Arizona that included about 40 urban lakes with biweekly stockings. The program was extremely popular there. We were looking for a way to keep fishing viable for more of our population, and the best way we can think of is to get people involved in fishing while they are young,” Provine says. “You have to keep them interested, because fishing is competing with video games and other activities, and what we were looking for was a fishing activity that was close to home, didn’t take a lot of skill, and would let them be successful so they would come back time and again.”
Results of the first three years of the program are encouraging. “We are getting a very good turnout, and the program draws a lot of new people,” Provine says.
For a list of lakes in the program and stocking dates, go to <www.tpwd.state. tx.us/fishboat/fish/management/stock ing/urban_catfish.phtml>. Stocking dates for rainbow trout in these lakes and approximately 90 other sites around the state will be posted in November. For more information, contact Betsill at (830) 866-3356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.