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Evidence of the drought is STILL WITH everywhere, but nowhere is it US: This USDA more evident than on our lakes, drought map, rivers and streams. dated January 31, Everything is low. So low 2012, shows that most of Texas is that relics from yesteryear have still under drought crept mysteriously towards the conditions. surface on many impoundments, creating navigational hazards for boaters and revealing glimpses into the past that have grabbed the attention of everyone from archeologists to homicide detectives. To wit: • Fishermen at Lake Georgetown discovered a human skull along the shoreline that is believed to be that of a male American Indian, possibly several thousand years old. • On Richland Chambers Reservoir, vanishing water lead to the discovery of more than two dozen unmarked graves that experts believe are those of former slaves buried there more than 120 years ago. • Another old cemetery site was revealed at Lake Buchanan and remnants of an old town surfaced at Lake Texoma. Meanwhile, more than two dozen people were arrested for pilfering ancient Indian artifacts exposed by low water at Lake Whitney. • In August, law enforcement was called to Lake Ray Hubbard near Dallas, where skeletal remains were found inside a car submerged just beneath the surface near Robertson Park. • Also in August, NASA officials were summoned to Lake Nacogdoches where a fuel cell from the space shuttle Columbia

was discovered at the lake’s upper reaches, where it came to rest after the space ship exploded over eastern Texas more than a decade ago. That’s all captivating stuff, but Texas’ million-or-so bass anglers might be more interested to learn what types of impacts the lingering drought is having on bass lakes across the state. More importantly, what it could mean for the future of our fisheries. As earlier mentioned, the drought is so widespread that just about every lake in the state has been affected. Common

NOTABLE LAKE LEVELS

Lake O.C. Fisher

as of Feb 6, 2012:

CURR. NORM Amistad 1,103.23 1,117.00 Buchanan 990.09 1,020.50 conroe 194.34 201.00 falcon 274.88 301.20 fork 397.20 403.00 meredith 2,851.21 2,941.00 oc fisher 1,853.58 1,908.00 OH Ivie 1,523.76 1,551.50 ray hubbard 433.38 435.50 ray roberts 630.53 632.50 Rich/chamb. 310.70 315.00 Sam rayburn 156.52 164.40 TEXOMA 615.85 619.00 toldedo bend 164.49 172.00 TRAVIS 627.00 681.00

problems include limited launching access and increased navigational hazards, both of which can deter traffic and cause economic hardship for lakeside businesses. Biologically, low water can cause the loss of critical spawning habitat and hinder recruitment, or result in the loss of an age class altogether. The upside for anglers is low water reduces the size of the playing field and makes fish easier to find. It also allows new growth terrestrial vegetation to sprout on the lakebed. Once inundated, the vegetation pumps nutrients into the water provide prime habitat where game fish and forage can thrive. Scientists sometimes refer to the phenomenon as the “new lake effect.” Naturally, some lakes have been harder hit by the drought than others. O.C. Fisher near San Angelo and Baylor Lake near Childress dried up completely last summer. Meanwhile, Lake Meredith north of Amarillo is listed at zero percent capacity, but still contains about 1,800 acres of water, according to fisheries biologist Charlie Munger of Canyon. Munger said the drought was particularly tough on Panhandle impoundments, because that region has been short on rain since 2000. But there are some bright spots.

Lake Travis

Source: TPWD

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Map: USDA; Photos: TPWD

2/7/12 10:02 AM

March 2012  

THE Authority on Texas Fishing & Hunting Texas Fish & Game is the largest, oldest, and best outdoors resource of its kind in the nation. No...

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