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New Fish Habitat Placed in Lake Belton - GPS Locations Included #14733737 05/29/23 02:23 AM
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Holding The Line Online Content OP
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The following is a cut-and-paste from my weekly column in the Killeen Daily Herald from 28 May 2023 ...

BOB MAINDELLE: Cooperative effort expands fish habitat improvement on Belton Lake

By Bob Maindelle | For the Herald 11 hrs ago 0

Bob Maindelle Guide Lines May 28

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PHOTO CAPTION: Over 30 volunteers helped construct, transport and emplace 17 Mossback Trophy Tree Kits like the three shown on the front of this Texas Parks and Wildlife Department boat. These habitat-enhancing devices were added to two previously constructed artificial reef areas on Belton Lake on May 20.
PHOTO: Courtesy | Holding the Line Guide Service

Beginning at 7 a.m. on May 20, more than 30 men, women and teens, most from the Centex Bass Hunters Club, the Texas Anglers Bass Club and the Lonestar Junior Bassmasters, gathered along the shoreline at Belton Lake’s Temple Lake Park to participate in the assembly and emplacement of 17 Mossback Trophy Tree kits to help improve the lake’s fish habitat.

Emplacement of such artificial fish habitat helps replace habitat lost as Belton Lake ages, and gives anglers known locations to target cover-loving species of fish.

Each kit consists of a triangular plastic base at the bottom which supports three upright, hollow plastic cylinders (like three short tree trunks). Each cylinder is designed to have multiple plastic slats inserted (like tree branches) by tapping them in with a rubber mallet. An additional, flat, triangular plastic spacer is placed near the top of the 43-inch tall structure to make it more rigid and keep the trunks evenly spaced apart.

A single cinder block is then placed on the base and secured with two heavy-duty cable ties, and the structure is ready for placement.

For this project, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department provided a flat-bottomed boat for ferrying the Trophy Trees from the assembly point out to the drop location just across the submerged Leon River channel from Temple Lake Park’s north boat ramp. The structures were placed in 12-13 feet of water with the lake at approximately 13 feet low, thus, at full pool, the structures will be in approximately 25 feet of water.

Nine Trophy Trees were dropped at one location, and eight were deposited at the other.

Both locations had remnant timber standing nearby.

The GPS coordinates for the four structures’ locations are as follows:

Reef 1: N 31.14600, W 097.51780 (in the lower Cowhouse Creek and near the undeveloped Fort Cavazos shoreline, just upstream from the junction of Cowhouse Creek and the Leon River)

Reef 2: N 31.14142, W 097.50919 (in the Leon River arm and near the undeveloped Fort Cavazos shoreline, just upstream from the junction of Cowhouse Creek and the Leon River)

Reef 3: N 31.14196, W 097.50539 (in the Leon River arm and near the undeveloped Fort Cavazos shoreline, just upstream from the junction of Cowhouse Creek and the Leon River)

Reef 4: N 31.14517, W 097.48168 (just upstream from Hybrid Island and near the Fort Cavazos shoreline in the Leon River arm)

Reef 2 and Reef 3 were supplemented by this most recent effort.

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The groundwork for this project was laid quite some time ago.

Back in early August of 2022, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame chose four conservation projects to support with grant money from a host of applications it had received from across the nation.

BFHOF announced at that time: “For the third consecutive year, the Board of Directors of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame announces that the Hall has awarded four conservation grants to contribute to the mission of celebrating, promoting and preserving the sport of bass fishing. The awardees were selected through a highly competitive process, and they represent a diverse group of deserving projects.”

“Each year we continue to be impressed by the seriousness and dedication of our applicants,” said BFHOF President John Mazurkiewicz. “We all agree that habitat restoration and management, and other conservation efforts, remain the bedrock of our sport and are critical to bass fishing’s future. These grants are one means of giving back to the wider community.”

The four projects BFHOF chose included a habitat restoration project on Tims Ford Reservoir in Tennessee, provision of a mobile fish care trailer for high school bass clubs in Alabama, a cypress tree planting project on Lake Barkley in Kentucky, and this habitat improvement project on Belton Lake.

“Once again we are proud to incentivize and reward the substantial sweat equity that these entities will produce,” said Board member Gene Gilliland, who also serves as the Bass Anglers Sportsmen’s Society Conservation Director. “It was difficult to choose the best four, but we’re confident that this group represents the best of the best. As time goes on, we hope that our efforts will become even more inclusive and substantial.”

Gilliland and Board member Casey Shedd with the American Fishing Tackle Company spearheaded the BFHOF conservation grant selection process.

According to the grant application, “This project will replace fish habitat that has been lost to natural reservoir aging processes. Specifically, Texas B.A.S.S. Nation worked with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and the Brazos River Authority to create four new fish habitat sites and will use the provided funds to further enhance artificial fish habitat at these same sites.”
In other words, the $5,000 grant was used to expand the coverage of two of the four habitat complexes which were emplaced back in September 2021.

On Sept. 18, 2021, a number of individuals and organizations came together to emplace four large, artificial reefs into Belton Lake for both fish and anglers to use.

According to John Tibbs, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Waco Region Inland Fisheries Supervisor, that 2021 project was one of the largest collaborative projects TPWD had done to date in this district.

The reefs give cover-loving species like bass, crappie and sunfish places to hide in and ambush prey from. In lakes like Belton, where natural forms of cover are somewhat sparse and declining, such man-made structures attract and consolidate fish.

I interviewed Dave Terre, State Conservation Director for the Texas B.A.S.S. Nation organization. Terre is the person who pursued the Belton Lake grant applications in 2021 and in 2022.
Terre’s career in the Inland Fisheries division of TPWD spanned a total of 35 years.

Terre started as a technician in TPWD’s Abilene operation and worked his way up to the Chief of Fisheries Management and Research, a billet he held from 2007 until his retirement in 2020.
Much of Terre’s career was invested in our Hill Country reservoirs, including Belton and Stillhouse Hollow.

Following his retirement, Terre was invited to join Texas B.A.S.S. Nation. As the state conservation director, a volunteer position, Terre works to connect and involve anglers with conservation of our natural resources.

When asked why he focused his grant-writing efforts on Belton Lake, Terre shared that he is a passionate tournament and recreational, multi-species angler.

He further explained that Belton Lake is a favorite among Central Texas bass anglers, but as reservoirs tend to do as they age, Belton has seen some siltation and the loss of much of the wood cover that existed after its creation in the 1950s.

Such reservoirs are prime candidates for habitat improvement. Hence, Terre saw both the need the reservoir had and the interest anglers have in it and was able to bring to bear the resources of individuals, private businesses, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Brazos River Authority and local bass clubs to work together to improve the reservoir for the future.

In addition to the $5,000 Terre secured from BFHOF, Terre also secured an additional $2,000 from the Friends of Reservoirs Foundation for this project.

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Bob Maindelle, 254-368-7411
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Re: New Fish Habitat Placed in Lake Belton - GPS Locations Included [Re: Holding The Line] #14733823 05/29/23 11:10 AM
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Thanks Bob! thumb

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Re: New Fish Habitat Placed in Lake Belton - GPS Locations Included [Re: Holding The Line] #14734617 05/30/23 03:30 AM
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Neat post. Thanks for sharing. cheers

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