Golden algae rearing ugly head again

January 19, 2013

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) monitors our Texas waters every winter because of the deadly golden algae blooms that have been occurring on a yearly basis.

This winter is no different. Blooms and fish kills are expected to some degree, and the TPWD is set up to monitor. The public is asked to please report all dead or dying fish and wildlife as soon as possible to the TPWD. Call one of the 24-Hour Communications Centers (512-389-4848 (Austin) or 281-842-8100 (Houston)), one of the Kills and Spills Team biologists, or your local Game Warden. In our area, you can call Alan Butler at (512) 389-8612 or email him at [email protected]

This past weekend on Possum Kingdom Lake, it appeared as though the golden algae was on the upper ends. As usual a huge gathering of gulls, pelicans and other birds congregated in these areas looking for an easy meal.

Though I did not see any dead or dying fish, I called it in. There was clean water downstream of this off-colored water, and that is where the fish were congregated.

Golden algae is a naturally occurring toxic algae that was first positively identified in Texas on the Pecos River in 1985. Since then, numerous Texas reservoirs and their fisheries have been impacted severely. Golden algae is only toxic to gill-breathing (such as fish) and bi-valves (such as frogs). There is no known impact to other animals/humans or drinking water when a bloom is ongoing.

This algae causes their gills to be enflamed and the fish die because they cannot breathe.

Golden algae has plagued numerous Texas reservoirs and some bodies of water in Oklahoma and New Mexico. Our Brazos river chain of lakes (Possum Kingdom, Granbury and Whitney) has been plagued by this alga since 2001. The algae seems to like bodies of water that have a relatively high salt content, which is essentially what the majority of our lakes west of I-35 have.

East Texas lakes are generally more acidic and are generally not prone to these algae blooms. The Trinity, which includes in part Bridgeport, Benbrook and Lewisville, seems to be resistant to this dreaded algae due to its lower salt content.

Golden algae can bloom any time of the year. However, during the winter the golden algae has the ability to multiply rapidly due to the other “healthy” other algal species’ slower growth in the cold water.

In other words, the golden algae generally blooms when the normally dominant green and blue algae are not as dominant, which is more than likely to occur in the winter months.

Golden algae last spring significantly affected Lake Whitney. Granbury and Possum Kingdom were last impacted significantly approximately twos year ago. This algae has repeatedly affected the TPWD production facilities, which stock our lakes with striped bass and hybrid striped bass.

We have not had a stocking in over two years. This year, the TPWD is promising to be able to have a successful stocking effort for our area lakes.

A good rain this time of the year could break up these blooms and avert a major fish kill. If sufficient rain falls that muddies the lake and the golden algae cannot survive. It is a plant and needs sunlight to flourish.

I was hoping for more rain than what we received. However, we will take what we got. Hopefully, now that the ground is saturated, we will get another rain that will help fill our lakes.


Water temperatures are in the upper 40s. Our lake came up a little less than a foot and we are still a little over 5 feet low. Access is still limited.

Granbury black bass and sand bass are still the best reports coming in. Sand bass are good on slabs and small soft plastics. Black bass are good near deeper structure on soft plastics.

Squaw Creek black bass are being worked by many anglers. The warm water from the power plant keeps the fish biting in the winter. Black bass to 6 pounds are common with numerous smaller fish being caught.

Tilapia seemed to have established themselves in this lake, and they are an invasive species. If you catch one, you are not allowed to release it. Tilapias are great eating fish if you do catch them on Squaw Creek.

There have been some good fishing reports from Lewisville, Bridgeport and Benbrook for those anglers chasing hybrid striped bass. Benbrook hybrids are good to 8 pounds on soft plastics fished in 35 to 40 feet of water. Bridgeport and Lewisville numbers of hybrids are good under the birds.

Best crappie action is reported on Lake Benbrook near deep humps on small jigs. Whitney sand bass and crappie are being caught in the river above Kimball Bend.

Possum Kingdom stripers and sand bass are good on slabs and soft plastics in 40 feet of water near mid-lake.

[email protected] |817-578-0023

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on Pinterest

Category: Sports Archived