The entire state of Texas freshwater lakes will now be required by law to drain all boats before leaving or approaching a lake or river to help combat the further spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species.
The rapidly reproducing mussels, originally from Eurasia, can have a serious economic, environmental and recreational impact on Texas reservoirs.
Zebra mussels canclog public-water intake pipes, harm boats and motors left in infested waters by covering boat hulls, and block water-cooling systems. They can also annoy lake property owners by completely covering anything left under water, and make water recreation hazardous because of their sharp edges.
Conservation officials and water-supply agencies are very concerned that zebra mussels could expand their range throughout the state.
“Zebra mussels have been moving steadily deeper into Texas since they were first found in Lake Texoma in 2009,” said Brian Van Zee, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Inland Fisheries Division Regional Director.
“Now that they are in Lake Belton, the Highland Lakes are in the cross hairs, as are many of the public waters in Central Texas.”
David Cowan, Lower Colorado Authority Senior Water Quality Coordinator, said the LCRA routinely monitors the Highland Lakes.
“So far we haven’t seen any evidence of zebra mussels,” Cowan said. “We will continue working closely with Texas Parks and Wildlife in urging the public to help us keep zebra mussels out of the Highland Lakes.”
While the new measure won’t take effect until July 1, TPWD urges all boaters to begin the preventative practice immediately since microscopic larvae (called veligers) hiding in your boat can travel to another water body and cause a new zebra mussel infestation.
The new rule requires persons leaving or approaching public water to drain all water from their vessels and on-board receptacles.
“This critical, because in their initial state, zebra mussels are invisible to the naked eye,” said Van Zee.
Trailered boats tend to be the most likely way zebra mussels get from one water body to another. Since boaters in Texas travel throughout the state to engage in various forms of recreational activity, the rule has been made statewide.
The regulation also requires the draining of live wells, bilges, motors, and any other receptacles or water-intake systems coming into contact with public waters.
Live fish, including personally caught live bait, cannot be transported to as different body of water. Personally caught live bait can be used in the water body where it was caught.
Anglers are allowed to transport and use commercially purchased live bait provided persons in possession of the bait have a receipt that identifies the source of the bait. Any live bait purchased from a location on or adjacent to a public water body that is transported in water from that water body could only be used as bait on that same water body.
The rules allow anglers participating in a fishing tournament confined to one water body to transport live fish in water from that single water body to an identified off-site weigh-in location, provided all water is drained and properly disposed of before leaving that location.
From an environmental perspective, zebra mussels are filter feeders that compete with baitfish such as shad for available forage.Any impact on baitfish in turn can affect their predators. Zebra mussels also threaten native mussel populations because they colonize on their shells.
“Zebra mussel infestations may also be related to blooms of toxic blue-green algae,” Van Zee said. “In 2011, Lake Texoma was closed to swimming for a time because of an outbreak of blue-green algae. The bottom line about zebra mussels is that they are bad news for Texas and we need to do everything we can to stop their spread.”
HOOD COUNTY FISHING REPORT
Fishing on Lake Granbury has been great for sand bass, small stripers and largemouth bass. Limits of sand bass are being taken on slabs and spinners near midlake and on the lower ends near Blue Water Shores.
Squaw Creek fishing is also great for several species. Channel catfish are excellent on prepared baits and cut bait. Black bass are good to 6 pounds on soft plastics fished on the upper ends. Tilapias to 2 pounds are good on worms near bedding areas in the shallows.
Possum Kingdom and Lake Whitney sand bass and small stripers are good. Whitney action is good near the island and the state park. Best action on Possum Kingdom is by Hogs Bend, Caddo Creek and the Peanut patch.
Bridgeport hybrids and sand bass are good on slabs by Rattlesnake Island and near the bubbles by the old dam.
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