-New Catfish Plan for Texas-
Considering that the human population of Texas is growing rapidly and with the population has come more pressure on our fishing resources especially in the triangle made up of the Dallas Metroplex south on highway I35 to San Antonio, across I10 to Houston, and then north on I45 back to Dallas where 85 percent of the state’s population is found.
Taking all of this into consideration the TPWD has been working diligently putting together a Catfish Management Plan so the urbanites can go fishing and not have to drive half way across the state to do it as well as introduce the next generation of anglers to fishing.
More than a year in preparation, the plan (A Vision for Catfish in Texas) describes why catfish are likely to become more important to Texas anglers in the future, depicts the catfish species available in the state, reports results of surveys of Texas catfish anglers and presents goals and strategies designed to make catfishing better.
TPWD fisheries biologist John Tibbs was one of the authors of the plan and he said. “Catfish are the preferred target of more than a third of freshwater anglers in Texas.” The catfish management plan will be the roadmap that guides TPWD’s efforts to increase catfishing opportunities and meet the desires of anglers.”
The main reasons catfish were chosen is they can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions including higher water temperature and lower oxygen levels that occur in Texas better than most other species of fish. They are easy to catch, good to eat and are native to ponds, lakes and streams and if necessary easily raised and stocked, making them ideal for providing fishing opportunities close to where people live and a great choice for introducing kids to fishing.
Without proper planning, further urbanization is likely to reduce water quality and fish habitats, and decrease public access to fishing and outdoor recreation. Because research shows that most anglers don’t want to travel far to fish, it is clear that new angling opportunities need to be in urban areas and close to home.
Now you may note that I started the last paragraph with the notation, “Without proper planning,” and when you look at the history of man one can pretty well bet on that being the biggest hurdle. Greed for money and power with little or no regard for our natural resources can sure expose the ugliest side of some people. It reminds me of the spirt of the old song “Paradise” by John Prine. You can find it on You Tube if you have never heard it.
The three major species are very different in the habitats they live in, what they eat, how fast they grow, and how big they get. These unique characteristics offer the opportunity to create even more diverse fishing for Texas anglers. All three species spawn in late spring to early summer, creating nests in cavities under banks, logs, and rocks. Catfish eat insects, mollusks, crustaceans, and fish, with fish being more important to Blue and Flathead catfish. In Texas, catfish mature in 2-5 years and can live 20-30 years. In most waters, they naturally produce enough young to sustain populations. Exceptions include ponds or small reservoirs that are heavily fished, lack habitat, or have a high abundance of predators.
So folks this is a strongly needed approach and I applaud the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the dedicated people who are working to insure that Texans in all possible locations can take advantage of our long heritage of fishing in our great state. Let me suggest you let you city, county, and state officials know that this is an important move and keep in mind that we always have the ballot box to hire or fire the hired help in government.
Photography by Larry J. LeBlanc
Photo number – P530006B
Caption – Fishing guide Butch Terpe with a perfect eating size channel catfish from a limit we recently caught on Lake Conroe.