ROUND ROCK, Texas – Danny Rogers grew up fishing in the Colorado River. He was raised in Smithville, southeast of Austin. He was invited to join officials from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at Meadow Lake to check on the largemouth bass population.
The boat had a generator that puts electricity into the water. The fish are stunned and then easier to catch. The fish are then measured, weighed and released.
“We work for the anglers and we promote angling,” said Patrick Ireland, a district biologist with TPWD. “So keeping tabs on the fish population may allow us to stock more fish into the lake, maybe do habitat improvements, maybe change a regulation. It’s all about trying to make fishing better in Texas ultimately.”
Last year, comments from anglers and a different electrofishing survey showed that there was a “significant decrease in the largemouth bass population compared to previous surveys,” according to Mukhtar Farooqi, also with TPWD.
Ireland noted that one survey doesn’t tell the whole story, but it’s important to check up on the fish to make sure there’s not something wrong with the lake itself.
“One sample doesn’t necessarily indicate a trend, but that’s why we’re out here tonight, after stocking these extra fish that we put in in February, is to see was that just a one off or how is this fishery really doing,” he said.
The group of four men worked through sunset into the evening. The data they collected will be processed in a month or so. But Ireland says the fish look good.
And for Rogers, an experience like this came at a good time. His property was recently hit by large hail during a tornado in Salado. The roof on his home needs to be replaced, as well as windshields on cars and trucks. Fishing is an escape from that.
“It takes you away from everything that’s happening in the world, too,” Rogers said. “Anytime you can get away and go fishing, it always eases your mind, relieves stress, stuff like that.”
A survey like this might not seem like a big deal, but to the Texans who grew up fishing and love the sport, it can make a real difference in the quality of their experience.
“This is just very, very important to make sure that these fisheries are doing well and that we can improve them. Basically just make the best available opportunity for anglers that we can. That’s why we’re all in this business.”