Richland-Chambers: Update On The Fishery
By Tom Lester
In June of 2001 and again this summer, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stocked nearly 1 million fingerling bass in the lake. Despite popular belief, the goal of the TPWD stocking program is not to increase the numbers of fish in the lake as much as they want to change the dynamics of it through genetic manipulation of the species.
By stocking the lake with 100% Florida strain bass, the hope is that they will mate with the naturally occurring Northern strains of bass and produce offspring that will grow faster and to larger sizes due to the influence of the Florida strain. The Florida strain bass are proven to grow to larger sizes than the Northern strain, thus the reason for stocking with the Florida strain of bass.
The Corsicana/Navarro County Chamber of Commerce Lake committee recently met with Dave Terre and Richard Ott of TPWD to discuss the recent stocking of bass at Richland - Chambers and the future of the lake with regard to restocking and fish habitat. Their presentation and report on the fishery was both informative and encouraging. The committee appreciated the time they spent with us discussing our lake.
The most encouraging report about the lake was ever increasing amount of aquatic vegetation present. Although the vegetation can and does create some problems for homeowners along the lake, it has been identified as the largest beneficial change to the lake that can positively affect the bass population at the lake. Let me try to explain.
Each year, in the spring, bass move to the shallow water to spawn (lay their eggs) when the surface water temperature begins to reach the mid to high 60's. Once the eggs hatch and the small fish emerges, it must find cover (shelter) to hide in, otherwise they will likely be eaten by other, larger fish.
Aquatic vegetation provides excellent cover for the young fish to live and grow up in. It also provides tiny microorganisms for the small bass to feed on, as well as, oxygen, a byproduct of photosynthesis from the green vegetation. All of these things combined equate to an improved habitat that results in increased survival rates of the baby bass. The result is a population of bass that naturally reproduce in a body of water. Throw in the added benefit of the Florida bass genetics and you've got all the ingredients necessary for a superb bass fishery that can produce large bass.
I'm sure there are some that read this article that are currently having problems with the aquatic vegetation around their property. I realize that there must be some level of balance between the vegetation being good for the fishery, yet not cause huge problems for property owners. I wish I had an easy solution, but unfortunately I don't. It is a problem that needs attention by the proper authorities that regulate the lake. I am confident a viable solution can be obtained.
Nevertheless, Richland – Chambers is on an upswing. With the recent restocking, increased aquatic vegetation resulting in more and better habitat, we should see bass fishing steadily improve. Now is a great time to go out and reacquaint yourself, your fishing buddies and your family to the fun of fishing.
Until next time, enjoy the outdoors.