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#11164715 - 10/14/15 05:41 PM The death of of a trophy fishing lake (long read)
Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 07/04/10
Posts: 1690
Loc: Austin
Just a post on how a lake may change (my opinion only!). For 2 years my #1 fishing lake has been Austin Town Lake aka Lady Bird Lake, here in downtown Austin Tx. It’s a smaller riverine lake fed by the Colorado River at the end of what is known as the Highland Chain lakes. As almost all lakes have been challenged the last several years by severe drought my lake was a constant level never having the typical ups and downs experienced by so many other lakes. Yes I had the proverbial dream lake just 17 minutes away when traffic was light at 5:30am. Not to mention there is a city statute that prohibits any motorized boat traffic so it fit in perfectly with my kayak fishing adventures.
Not only was this dream lake close, a haven away from power boaters, not overcrowded with other fishermen, but also was a trophy sized fish producer. This little slice of heaven we call LBL produced world class sized carp, world class largemouth bass (4 over 10lbs for me), but trophy sized sunfish in the order of Bluegills, Red Breast, and Red Ear. The lake produced these over 10” sized fish very regularly on both natural and artificial baits. As an added bonus our sister lake: Lake Austin just above us also produced trophy sized fish, so in case one became bored looking at the same scenery you could change it up.
These ecosystems offered a widely varied habitat on each lake from manmade structure to natural grass Milifoil to hydrila, to rock, etc… all in all nature was in sync with man for several years. However all good things come to an end. I hate to admit but we had become very arrogant down here with our fish. We took for granted that perhaps our lake would someday STOP producing trophy sized fish. Through vainglorious attitudes we became prideful and snubbed others lake's for not producing a 12” bluegill. Folks the "grocer’s bill" was levied upon us in the spring of 2013…50k worth of grass carp were dumped into Lake Austin as Im sure many of you have heard. By july of that year, Lake Austin had been decimated as far as cover goes. Our beautiful sunfish were gone kerput! Wiped out!...as bad as that sounds we still had Town Lake. Yes town lake continued to produce the same quality fish as it always had. Perhaps just a bit more pressure but overall nothing this lake could not handle. I was neck deep in the big bass kayak competition but still was able to find some 12” Redbreast randomly as a by-catch. I also started to see an increasing number of bucket fishermen around. By late fall that year reports of folks catching 50 and more huge sunfish were quite common. I was seeing stringers full of brute sized Redbreast being taken out of the lake each day I was on the lake, which at the time, I was fishing 5 days a week….Yea it didn’t take long before I saw less and less fishermen and even less sunfish as long as they are not keeping my Bass I would say….
Fast forward to today. Now even fishing fulltime with the sole intentions of finding sunfish I have yet to manage to find a fish over 10”. My old holes are still around but seldom will they even give up a dink fish now. Its as if 80% or more of my sunfish are just GONE! Vanished from existence! My wife Ashley’s famous state record producing fishing hole now does not even offer a bite, much less a fish.
Im sure many folks are now saying “oh the fish moved” etc…I would say the same thing except I know my lake very well, I fish 3 to 4 times a week. I have fished from to dam to dam so to speak…what Im really seeing is this: not just a lack of big fish, but a total lack of all sunfish. Holes that had once been known to hold tons of smaller sized fish now are barren. Overhangs, rock piles, grass beds all are fished with equal failure. Not to mention its getting actually worse each week. The only exception is the amount of Rio’s Im stumbling across. Not so many that Im able to target them but compared to years past where I may catch 1 every now and then to now perhaps 1 per trip. Still does not make up for the lack of our bigger sunfish.
3 factors come to mind on our little problem. None of which we as fishermen will have any control over generally speaking.
1) With the complete destruction of Lake Austin and now 100% removal of all vegetation as of the last survey by TPWD last month we are lacking nutrients washing downstream.
2) Drought, yes even though we are constant level the systematic releases bring in nutrients, mixes water/02 levels etc…
3) Extreme pressure by catch and keep anglers whom were scattered from lake Travis to LBL…I account this as the least impactive on our woes, but still bears a mention.
Please do not think of this as a whine and pity party …far from it. It’s a cautionary tale of how a Superior trophy fishing lake can flux. It’s a cautionary tale of how quickly man can ruin a ecosystem such as the grass carp issue in Lake Austin. It’s a cautionary tale of how arrogant and prideful people “ME” can suffer the wrath of judgement…If any come and prove me wrong I welcome it. I would much rather be thought a fool than to see my lake suffer…
Thanks for listening
Kent Meadows
_________________________
" Used to Chase giant's on Lake Austin & Town Lake "


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#11164808 - 10/14/15 05:57 PM Re: The death of of a trophy fishing lake (long read) [Re: Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan]
doctorxring Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 11/04/03
Posts: 623
Loc: The Republic of Texas
That is a sad state of affairs.

You would think with as much time as there has been since the Lake Conroe fiasco TPWD
would have learned a few things about grass carp.

Some videos on the grass carp issue --

http://kxan.com/2015/02/20/carp-help-destroy-underwater-plants-in-lake-austin/

http://www.kvue.com/story/news/local/201...ystem/70867278/

http://www.kvue.com/story/news/local/201...ustin/30445585/

http://www.activistangler.com/journal/20...reputation.html

.
.


Edited by doctorxring (10/14/15 06:37 PM)
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#11165959 - 10/15/15 07:36 AM Re: The death of of a trophy fishing lake (long read) [Re: Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan]
banker-always fishing Online   content
TFF Guru

Registered: 07/12/10
Posts: 37117
Loc: Universal City Tx.
I hear you Kent. The last two times I fished Lake Austin it was poor fishing to say the least! I can remember a few years ago before the grass removal you could easily catch well over fifty trophy size sunfish every time. The last two times I was there we caught only one trophy fish with both trips combined. The water looked muddy and was not clear like before. I fished Lady Bird Lake last month and the water was dirty. Biggest sunfish I caught was 5". You could always go there in the past and catch "tons" of eight and nine inch fish from the bank just about any given day from spring to fall. I always released the fish we caught in the Austin area. I know how much you fish these lakes and if anyone knows Austin lakes it would be you. The only thing I would hope for is that both Lake Austin and the LBL will make a come back. Long range weather predictions say late fall, winter, and spring, are going to be wet ones. Hopefully this will help! Also maybe the LCRA could put in some artificial reef structures to improve fish habitat but don't hold your breath on that one. Again I hope for the best on both of those lakes. thumb
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IGFA World Record Rio Grande Cichlid. Lake Dunlap.

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#11166300 - 10/15/15 09:39 AM Re: The death of of a trophy fishing lake (long read) [Re: Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan]
J-Moe Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 04/04/14
Posts: 2599
Loc: Brenham, TX
Great post thumb

When looking through the TPWD record books I saw Lady Bird Lake show up quite often. It was on my list of places to fish for sunfish/bluegill. Sad to hear I'll never get to experience that same quality of fishing.

The drought of 2011 decimated our ponds and creeks in the area. Tales of 1 lb. green sunfish and 2 lb. red ear sunfish are nothing more than a myth now.

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#11166305 - 10/15/15 09:40 AM Re: The death of of a trophy fishing lake (long read) [Re: Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan]
Smithaven Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 03/23/10
Posts: 1818
Loc: Hurst, Texas
I feel your pain Kent. The same thing happened to Lake Weatherford in 1990. It was 20 years before it partially recovered, and it never really came back to its former quality.

I do not understand why TPWD does these things.
_________________________
.
Seventy years of chasing the elusive sunfish.

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#11166531 - 10/15/15 11:14 AM Re: The death of of a trophy fishing lake (long read) [Re: Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan]
Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 07/04/10
Posts: 1690
Loc: Austin
Thank you each for your kind responses. I have just returned from the lake, my tally was 18 bluegill less than 6" 1 Redbreast around 9"s. I even tied up some of my "famous jigs" and borrowed Ashley's spinning rod to fish ultra deep under those over hangs...NOTHING! But on the bright side of things I would like to catch a 20" Guadalupe Bass on the fly so I guess I will start doing that...if anything changes Il report. Also will continue to hit some other lakes and shoot some more videos.
_________________________
" Used to Chase giant's on Lake Austin & Town Lake "


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#11167333 - 10/15/15 05:45 PM Re: The death of of a trophy fishing lake (long read) [Re: Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan]
highcountry Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 03/07/09
Posts: 1258
Loc: Garland, TX
It's not only the TPWD that ruins bodies of water with regularity(Fork vegetation has been devastated over the last few years while treating for water hyacynth), I've witnessed it across the Rockies, as well. There is an arrogance involved among the "decision makers" who don't have a clue what they have done... nor do they care. Even when confronted with the facts, they deny wrongdoing. What a horrible pity that's happened to your favorite lakes, Kent.
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#11167386 - 10/15/15 06:12 PM Re: The death of of a trophy fishing lake (long read) [Re: Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan]
blooper961 Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 12/04/09
Posts: 6021
This is the problem with Joe Pool.
There are an infinite number of carp in the lake,
and no grass.Carp eat very well.

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#11169629 - 10/17/15 08:16 AM Re: The death of of a trophy fishing lake (long read) [Re: Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan]
Gitter Done Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 02/06/07
Posts: 8683
Loc: San Antonio Tx.
Great post! Seems you are reading more and more about nice bodies of water in populated areas that were once great fisheries becoming fair to poor fisheries. Poor water body management is most of the problem followed by clueless anglers who don't know the first thing about conservation! Just my two cents.

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#11170511 - 10/17/15 08:12 PM Re: The death of of a trophy fishing lake (long read) [Re: Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan]
fish 'till I drop Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 09/20/08
Posts: 1985
Loc: Austin, TX
Don't know why anyone would eat fish caught in Lady Bird Lake. All advisories I've ever seen warned against eating them.

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#11171346 - 10/18/15 04:50 PM Re: The death of of a trophy fishing lake (long read) [Re: Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan]
Laker One Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 07/03/11
Posts: 9175
Loc: San Antonio TX
Great post! I would have to go along with poor water body management plane and simple!

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#11185715 - 10/25/15 05:35 PM Re: The death of of a trophy fishing lake (long read) [Re: Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan]
jagg Online   content
TFF Team Angler

Registered: 10/12/08
Posts: 3785
Loc: South Texas
My condolences, Kent. My brother, who lives close to Austin told me a similar story over the past couple years and he says he just bypasses it all together now, whish is a shame since it also used to be one of his favorite lakes. I've seen state agencies ruin a good fishing lake to make it ski boat and jet ski friendly, but this makes no sense!
_________________________
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless His Holy Name!

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#11188061 - 10/26/15 06:12 PM Re: The death of of a trophy fishing lake (long read) [Re: Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan]
Bob Landry Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 08/10/11
Posts: 2020
Loc: Austin, Tx
It's a classic example of what happens every time our arrogant, all-knowing top heavy government sticks it's hands in anything. It's called mis-management and government excels in it.
The funny thing is that after TPWD destroys everything the sportsmen like, they have the nads to hold out their hand for donations to fund even more disastrous endeavors.
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2015 Seaark 1872 MV CC Etec-90
Helix 12 CHIRP SI, HB 1199, MinnKota Riptide ST80/i-pilot Link, Bob's Hydraulic

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#11193526 - 10/29/15 10:13 AM Re: The death of of a trophy fishing lake (long read) [Re: Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan]
rsmith Online   content
Angler

Registered: 11/11/03
Posts: 267
Loc: killeen tx
I wouldn't blame tpwd too much on this one the city pressured them a lot to put the grass carp in lake Austin

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#11193832 - 10/29/15 01:20 PM Re: The death of of a trophy fishing lake (long read) [Re: Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan]
Kent Meadows aka Team Hooligan Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 07/04/10
Posts: 1690
Loc: Austin
BSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE WHO PRESSURED WHO. TPWD IS A STATE AGENCY PLAIN AND SIMPLE. BEING THEY DID CAVE=IN, CATER TO, OR SIMPLY BOW OVER TO PAC AS IN FOLA, THEY ARE NO LONGER WORTH A SEAT AT THE SUNSET COMMISSION I HOPE THE NEXT STATE SESSION REMOVES 1/2 THEIR OPERATING BUDGET AND THE WHOLE BIOLOGIST STAFF IS TERMINATED. WE CAN HIRE COLLEGE KIDS TO DO A BETTER JOB THAN THE INCOMPETENT PERSONEL CURRENTLY EMPLOYED AT TPWD! NO EXCUSES END OF DISCUSSION!
_________________________
" Used to Chase giant's on Lake Austin & Town Lake "


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