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Excellent Bass Fishing Opportunities Exist in Smaller East Texas Reservoirs
By Todd Driscoll

 

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Both Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend reservoirs provide almost unlimited fishing opportunities, are in the national spotlight, and receive most of the attention from area anglers. However, East Texas is also blessed with many smaller reservoirs that provide alternative types of fishing opportunities. Our office recently completed annual spring electrofishing surveys at Timpson, Nacogdoches, and Pinkston reservoirs. All three lakes support excellent largemouth bass populations and provide the opportunity to catch that trophy of a lifetime.

Timpson Reservoir is probably the most underutilized water body in our management district. Located approximately 8 miles southwest of Timpson on FM 2667, it serves as the water supply for the City of Timpson. Since it is a small reservoir (237 acres), it is relatively easy to fish. The water is typically off-color; habitat primarily consists of shallow, emergent cattails, bulrushes and buckbrush. A small amount of submerged coontail is present. The largemouth bass population benefits from a restrictive 14-21 inch slot limit, 5 fish daily bag limit (only one may be over 21 inches per day). Compared to other lakes, bass catch rates from our sample were relatively high. Many of these fish were over 4 pounds, quite a few were over 7 pounds, and the biggest bass in our sample weighed over 10 pounds. Boat access is excellent, as the City of Timpson recently renovated the facilities. I would rate this reservoir as a good place to go for a trophy bass.

Nacogdoches Reservoir, a 2,200 acre water supply lake located approximately 10 miles west of Nacogdoches on Highway 225, also has a 14-21 inch slot limit, 5 fish daily bag limit (only one may be over 21 inches per day) in effect for largemouth bass. Typically, the lake is relatively clear due to the abundance of submerged hydrilla. However, a heavy rain can cause the entire lake to become muddy. This reservoir receives quite a bit of pressure from local anglers, but the restrictive bass regulation maintains an excellent population of bass. Our recent survey indicated a high number of bass present, with a respectable amount between 16 and 21 inches. Due to the excellent habitat that is present, a high number of age-0 bass survive every year. As a result, high numbers of fish less than 14 inches also exist. In fact, the bass population at Nacogdoches would benefit from increased harvest of these fish below the slot limit. Decreasing the numbers of smaller bass would decrease competition for food and increase the growth rates of the remaining bass. Anglers here could put 5 bass less than 14 inches in the freezer, benefit the bass population by harvesting these fish, and have an opportunity to catch several big fish. Excellent boat launching facilities exist on the lower end of the lake.

This spring, our best largemouth bass sample came from Pinkston Reservoir. This 560-acre water supply lake is located off Highway 7 approximately 11 miles west of Center. Currently, a 14-18 inch slot limit, 5 fish bag limit has provided a high number of 3-5 pound bass. On September 1, 2001 a 14-21 inch slot limit, 5 fish daily bag limit (only one allowed over 21inches per day) will be implemented to increase the number of 5 pound plus bass. This lake certainly has the potential to produce trophies. In 1986, the former state record 16.9-pound largemouth bass was caught here. Our recent electrofishing sample revealed many fish between 4 and 8 pounds, with the biggest bass weighing 10 pounds. Numbers of bass over 8 pounds should increase with the implementation of the new regulation. Hydrilla and other types of vegetation provide excellent habitat. This lake provides the best trophy bass fishing opportunities in our management district. However, conditions here are similar to those at Nacogdoches. High numbers of smaller bass are present and the bass population would benefit from increased harvest below the slot limit. Two boat ramps are present, but access roads and parking lots are not paved.

In addition, many small urban and community fishing lakes in East Texas receive little fishing pressure and can provide high quality angling. For example, a bank angler recently caught a 13.2-pound largemouth bass from Red Hills (a 14 acre U.S. Forest Service lake north of Milam). The next time you go fishing, visit one of these underutilized lakes. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Contact our local Inland Fisheries office by phone (409-384-9572) or email (todd3d@jas.net). Good luck and good fishing!

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