ATHENS — A recent cooperative effort between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD Inland Fisheries management staff, the City of Waco, Cameron Park Zoo, and some local scouts from China Spring deployed new fish habitat into Lake Brazos on Wednesday.
Twenty fish attractors primarily composed of bamboo from nearby Cameron Park Zoo were sunk near newly renovated or newly constructed piers and shelters along both sides of the lake between Doris D. Miller Park and Cameron Park. The new fish habitat simulates flooded brush habitat and will draw in fish species of every kind and size. Forage species like sunfishes feed on aquatic insects that are naturally drawn to the habitat. Additionally, this somewhat complex system of stems, branches and leaves provides cover for small fishes from larger predators such as largemouth bass and catfish.
Crappies are also known for selecting these types of underwater haunts to hang-out in, hence their name, “crappie condos.”
TPWD Inland Fisheries management biologists in Waco have been cooperating with the City of Waco and other partners for years to create a viable fishery on Lake Brazos. The City of Waco initiated the first step by replacing the faulty dam with a new labyrinth weir dam, which was completed in 2007. The new dam maintains a near constant-level lake year round.
Biologists have since stocked 58,000 bluegill, over 12,000 largemouth bass, 132,525 Florida largemouth bass, 126,855 channel catfish, and nearly 100,000 blue catfish for anglers to take advantage of. Recreational features including walkways, picnic shelters, boat ramps, and fishing and boating piers continue to be constructed and updated along the lower two-thirds of the reservoir adjacent to the city of Waco. The new fish attractors are all within easy casting distance of many of these facilities.
Anglers who have not fished Lake Brazos recently are in for a pleasant surprise. Lake Brazos boasts some of the highest catch rates for channel and blue catfish in Central Texas, and the majority of these are of legal size. Flathead catfish are also found in the lake. Temperate bass anglers can target low density populations of white bass and striped bass. Hybrid striped bass, emigrating from Lake Waco, may also be encountered. Black bass anglers can encounter quality largemouth and spotted bass, and smallmouth bass are not out of the question, since over 20,000 fingerlings have been stocked just 42 river miles upstream in the Lake Whitney tailrace since 2008. Good numbers of white crappie and sunfishes, including bluegill, longear and redear sunfish, have also been sampled recently.
Doris D. Miller Park off MLK Boulevard houses a tackle loaner program where anglers can borrow fishing tackle at no cost. Please contact the TPWD Waco fisheries management office for more details at (254) 666-5190.