Fishing for habitat in Texas

Fishing for habitat in Texas

Fishery biologists and local organizations in Texas are working together to complement the degraded natural fish habitat in aging reservoirs with long-lasting, environmentally friendly man-made fish attracters. These fish attracters help increase the production and catch rates of popular sport fish by providing cover and food sources for a wide variety of fish species. Learn how you can improve your catch rates by locating and targeting these fish attracters at reservoirs across the state.

With increasing age of the reservoirs, the natural habitat of the fish is impaired by siltation, loss of vegetation and degradation of wood habitats. Without this habitat, locating fish can be challenging for anglers. To complement the deteriorating natural habitat, the Inland Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is working with organizations from Friends of Reservoirs and other partners to install man-made fish attracters to help focus the fish and improve fishing success in the reservoirs to increase nationwide.

The fish attracters placed by TPWD fishery biologists are marked with buoys and GPS coordinates, noted on a map and available for download on the department’s website. The information on the website also includes the type of fish attractors, the species they attract and a description of the location. Anglers can use GPS in conjunction with a fish finder or simply find the points on the map to locate these structures at more than 45 reservoirs – with new locations being added regularly.

Although many fish attracters are placed in strategic locations that are accessible to boat and kayak anglers, many reservoirs also place fish attracters around and under fishing piers and within casting range of the coast to attract fish for coastal anglers. Anglers will also find attractors for pier and inshore fish in several Texas State Parks, the only public bodies of water in Texas where anglers can fish without a license.

Artificial fish attracters come in a variety of shapes and materials that benefit different species of fish. The majority of the fish attractors in Texas reservoirs are commercially made structures made from recycled PVC and plastic. In some cases, fishery biologists construct custom structures from found or donated materials such as buckets, concrete, PVC pipes, plastic pipes, and recycled Christmas trees brush. Each structure is unique in design, height, and limb complexity, and provides shelter for fish ranging in size from small bait fish to larger bass, crappies, and catfish.

By comparing gate surveys done before and after the artificial structures were placed, fishery biologists found a significant increase in the amount of sport fish caught by anglers. Anglers can use the species descriptions on the TPWD website to customize their bait and lure choices and increase their chances of success even further.

Anglers can also help expand habitat enhancement at other Texas reservoirs. The funds for these materials are funded with every purchase of a TX fishing license.