Now’s the time to catch your fill – literally – of tilapia

October 19, 2013

Actually we should have realized if tilapias are introduced in a power plant lake they will thrive, and they are thriving in Squaw Creek.

Many anglers are concerned that the tilapia will hurt the other species within the lake, and I believe there will certainly be some impact.

Many anglers are taking advantage of this huge population of invasive fish and filling their coolers.

There is no limit, and you are not allowed to release a known invasive species back.

Tilapia are a non-native species typically used as to control algae growth in farm ponds/tanks. They are also raised for food, as many of you know. You can purchase tilapia fillets at most grocery stores.

Tilapia are indigenous to Asia and Africa. They have established themselves in Texas and Florida, probably as accidental releases from local land owners’ ponds/tanks. Tilapia are typically put into farm and ranch ponds to control weed and algae growth in the summer.

The Tilapia species are primarily herbivores, but will occasionally consume zooplankton and small invertebrates. They thrive in the summer and die off in the winter in North Texas. These are tropical fish that love water temperatures above 75.

These tilapia have been thriving in power plant lakes like Lake Fairfield and now Squaw Creek and are known to inhabit several southern bodies of waters, rivers, canals and streams. Tipalia have become established in the Rio Grande, San Antonio, Guadalupe, and parts of the Colorado River drainages.

Tilapia look similar to large Sunfish. There are several species, but I am told the blue tilapia is the typical species found in Texas.

Adult fish are generally blue-gray along the back, fading to white on the belly. Sides may have vague irregular markings, or be unmarked. Dorsal and caudal fins have reddish borders. The spiny dorsal fin is joined with the soft dorsal fin.

Their life span is around 5 years. Fish over 20 inches and approaching 10 pounds are possible.

Spawning occurs when the water temperatures near 70 degrees. Large circular nests are dug by the males in shallow water over a sandy bottom. Males lead passing females to the nest for courtship.

After the eggs are laid and fertilized, the female takes the eggs into her mouth and swims off. The eggs are hatched in the female’s mouth, over a period of three weeks or so, the female releases the fry occasionally to feed. When threatened they return to her mouth. This is referred to as mouth-brooding.

It is my understanding that a female tilapia can spawn every 4 weeks and even at only 3 inches long they can start to spawn. They can reproduce quickly, especially where conditions are right.

Being herbivores, catching these tasty fish can be a chore. I understand though that you can catch them with worms, hot-dogs and range cubes. They also will eat insects and many fly anglers like to catch this species.

I hear also that some are being caught where the catfish remains are tossed back near the cleaning station on Squaw Creek. They prefer warm water, so fish the warmest spots in the winter.

Best results on Squaw Creek are using small piece of worm under a bobber fishing on the upper ends. Some of the fish are close to 16 inches.

These are classified as an invasive species, so you are not to return these fish to the water. They are great table fare, so if you do catch some you should keep them anyway.


Water temperatures on Granbury are in the middle 70s on the main lake. Recent rains have been appreciated. However, more is needed.

Sand bass continue to be excellent on slabs and jigs. Sand bass near mid-lake and the lower ends have been reporting great action. Black bass anglers are catching numbers of smaller fish with an occasional fish to 5 pounds.

Squaw Creek continues to boast fair to good catches of black bass. Many anglers are reporting that the numbers are down some, but the black bass are still good to 5 pounds.

Channel catfish populations are great and are good on prepared baits and cut shad. Tilapia can be taken on worms or through the use of cast nets in the shallows.

Whitney and Possum Kingdom sand bass and some stripers are being caught on the lower ends on live shad and slabs. Best hybrid striper action is on Proctor, if you can get on. The government shutdown has temporarily closed Corps of Engineers Parks all across the nation.

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Category: Sports Archived