TEXAS CHAPTER, TROUT UNLIMITED

703 VANGUARD AUSTIN, TEXAS 78734

 

MARCH 1990

 

Dear Members:

This letter has several purposes; to provide notice of the annual meeting and election of directors, to transmit the enclosed "Report To Members" and, together with its enclosures, replace the newsletter normally scheduled for April distribution.

 

The annual meeting and election of directors will be held in Sattler, Texas on April 28th, 1990. Place of the meeting will be St. Thomas Parish Activity Center, adjacent to the Church just below Canyon Dam. Registration begins at 10 :00 AM. The meeting is scheduled from 10:30‑11:45 AM which will include the election, a program and a raffle drawing. Lunch will be served following adjournment of the meeting.

 

We trust that the enclosed "Report To Members" is informative and motivating. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

 

Please consider making a donation, the pending food chain study makes your support imperative!! A “donation card" is printed on the back of the enclosed raffle flyer. Please indicate your preference as to application of your donation. Make your checks payable to TEXAS CHAPTER, TROUT UNLIMITED and mark them "Donation" for your tax deductible credit.

 

You support the projects of the Chapter when you participate in our raffles and other fund raising activities. Through the generosity of THE AUSTIN ANGLER not one, but two $100.00 gift certificates will be raffled at the meeting on April 28th. See attached raffle flyer for details. You do not have to be present to win one of the $100.00 gift certificates

 

For the future of trout fishing in Texas, I remain

            

Howard Itten

President

 

PS: We greatly appreciate those advertisers who support us by taking space in our Newsletter. We want you to know them and when its possible, to let them help you with your needs. They are listed on the back of this letter.

 

This report deals with the Chapter's efforts toward developing a sell‑sustaining tailwater fishery in the Guadalupe River below Canyon Dam.

 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Canyon Dam was completed in 1963. Soon afterward Texas Parks and Wildlife began stocking put‑and‑take rainbow trout. Their program continues to date. Across the state, the total number of trout and sites stocked have greatly increased as a result of trout stamp sales.

 

Information in support of development of a tailwater fishery below Canyon Dam may be found in two reports of studies made on the area. One was conducted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department from February 1, 1967 to January 31, 1968. This study indicated a suitable habitat for rainbow trout and verified over summer survival of stocked trout. The second study was initiated by the Chapter and its findings are utilized in preparing this report to our members.

 

In 1970 the Chapter invited Howard A. Tanner to study the Guadalupe River below Canyon Dam. Tanner was, at the time of his report, Director of Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and nationally recognized for his work with trout habitat and stream enhancement.

 

Here are some quotes from his report:

 

"I am impressed with the resource presented by the tailwater area of the Guadalupe River below Canyon Dam."

"It is far  below its potential as a trout fishing area."

 

"The Guadalupe River, for some ten to fifteen stream miles below Canyon Dam, is a first class trout stream."

"That it is the only trout water within hundreds of miles makes it of far greater significance to Texas.

 

His report contained observations and recommendations that have, since 1970, inspired the Chapter's efforts toward enhancement of the Guadalupe River fishery. It found the water quality to be good, water temperature favorable, food supply marginal, more public access needed, a need to introduce fish food organisms and insects, stock brown trout for the best chance to establish carryover trout, consider brook trout as secondary

target, rainbow trout have less potential for carryover most hatchery developed strains of rainbow trout have poor potential for natural reproduction and for development of self‑sustaining stocks, favorable pH, dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations, high water hardness, 175‑220 ppm, reflects limestone nature of the watershed. Level of hardness plus other factors of water quality are convincing factors that the stream has a very high productive capacity.

 

Current monitoring of water quality, temperature and other factors indicate conditions today are generally favorable as observed by Tanner in 1970. However, several events have occurred in the past few years which have changed ecological conditions in the fishery below Canyon Dam.

 

The Guadalupe‑Blanco River Authority was authorized to sell water downstream. In filling orders, little consideration was given to the effects of rate release practices on the ecology. Releases varied from bottom scouring 3,000 cfs to lows of 50 cfs. In 1987‑1988, a hydro‑electric generating plant was constructed. During construction, a number of no-flow periods occurred which may have had drastic effects on the macroinvertebrate populations which form the food base for trout.

 

During the licensing hearings before state and federal authorities, the Texas Chapter joined with others to fight against proposed flow and other regulations that would have seriously injured or destroyed the Guadalupe trout fishery below Canyon Dam. The regulations now in effect, while not ideal, represent concessions won for the fishery.

 

WHAT HAS, AND IS, GOING ON:

 

Over the years following Tanner's report, the Chapter has aspired to establish a carryover fishery in the Guadalupe River. If the state is stocking thousands of rainbow trout, aren't they maintaining the fishery?

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is providing a "put‑and‑take" fishing program that offers Texans the unique opportunity to fish for rainbow trout. However, such a program is not directed toward development of self‑sustaining cold water fisheries. The fish they stock are apparently from hatchery developed rainbow strains, generally of poor quality and smallish size <9 inches, more or less) and, as noted by Tanner, not likely to carryover. The Department has not, as yet, acknowledged the potential of the Guadalupe River as a self‑sustaining trout fishery or the value of such a fishery to Texas.

 

The Chapter has stocked adult rainbow and brown trout, brown trout fingerlings and both rainbow and brown fry hatched in streamside incubators, (program initiated in 1989). We do not have reasonable opportunity to acquire captured wild adult fish, or, eggs from same, which would be ideal for our purposes. However, we have had success in obtaining healthy and strong adults from selected private hatchery sources. We are excited about the results, though evidence is limited at this time, from the streamside incubator program. The fry are hatched in the river water and released into the ecology of the river at a stage which may result in natural adaptation.

 

... In the early eighties a 6 1/2 pound brown was taken and in 1986 the state record 7 1/2 pound brown. Since the Chapter has been the only party stocking browns, it is reasonable to judge that these fish survived from brown fingerlings introduced in 1972.

 

In May of 1986, a five pound 12 ounce rainbow was caught and on November 24th, 1989 a new state record rainbow was caught, twenty three inches, five pounds 15.2 ounces. Both of these fish had survived for some time in the river. We are not the only  parties stocking rainbows. However, in January 1989 we stocked some very strong and healthy fish (rainbows, browns and a few brookies) of large sizes, in the sixteen to twenty inch size range. Likewise, earlier rainbow stocking of twelve to fourteen inch fish, in 1987 and 1988, was done by the Chapter. The state record rainbows, past and present, certainly were carryover fish.

 

... As late as November of 1989, our members reported catching several sixteen to twenty inch rainbows that survived the heat and low water of last summer.

 

... In February and March of 1989, our first streamside incubator hatched rainbow fry were entering the river. Beginning in June, and to the present time, many very small rainbows, 3 1/2 to 7 inches, have been reported caught near one of our incubator sites. These fish, we believe, were hatched in the streamside incubator. They have grown and survived the low water and high summer temperatures of the 1989 season.

 

Isn't there then, significant encouragement that can be drawn from our enhancement efforts?

 

Put‑and‑take stocking is being done on the Brazos River below Possum Kingdom Dam by Texas Parks and Wildlife. There has been, in the past, references to potential for this tailwater resource. However, we have no first hand current information in this regard. Assuming the potential exists, success with the Guadalupe should be beneficial to possible development there, as well.

 

This year we hope to initiate a trout food chain study for the Guadalupe, the first phase of a program to improve and expand its food sources. The importance of this project to our objective is found in the two studies, 1967‑68 and 1970. Both indicated the trout food supply to be marginal. These findings coupled with unknown effects on the river ecology following the hydro‑electric plant construction, justify the proposed food chain study. We have made an application to Trout Unlimited for a grant under the national Embrace‑A‑Stream program. Estimated cost of the project is $21,000. 14 awarded, we must come up with about $3,000.00 in cash as our share of the project, over and above, earned credit for member voluntary hours spent on the project.

Unfortunately, there have been highs and lows in the Chapter's dedication to the enhancement programs over the intervening years. The highs occur when those among our membership, who support the view that the Guadalupe has the potential for developing a self‑sustaining trout fishery, are the dominant voice. Lows occur when the dominant voice is that of members wanting to stock large fish principally for the sake of recreational fishing. For the past several years, we have attempted to mollify both views while keeping in mind, that as a chapter of Trout Unlimited, we have adopted, by such association, our parent's credos relating to restoration, preservation, protection and enhancement of cold water streams and their fisheries. In this posture, we are not just fishing club.

 

For the current fiscal year, expended approximately $5300 enhancement (stocking fish, incubator operations and access lease expense). Should the grant for the food chain study be awarded, we must raise new funds if we are to maintain the fishery enhancement programs already in place and meet our share of the proposed study.

we have to date for fishery.

 

For now, the only trout stream enhancement game in Texas is being played by the Texas Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Will we be successful in creating a self‑sustaining trout fishery in the Guadalupe?

 

Tanner felt it was possible in 1970. We think there is recent evidence that indicates the effort is worthwhile. It will take dedicated effort, financial support, education of the public and political sectors and regulatory policies that protect the habitat, ecology and environment of the Guadalupe. We must enlist the favorable support of federal and state agencies that regulate the Guadalupe‑Blanco River Authority and action by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in initiating regulations to protect the fishery from abusive trout fishing practices. A tall order for old men like myself but made to order for the young of you who cherish the privilege of fly4ishing for cold water trout in your home state.

 

All persons residing in Texas who join our parent organization, Trout Unlimited, are presently designated by national as members of the Texas Chapter, the only existing chapter organization in Texas at this time. Across the state, as of January this year, our chapter roster reflected 861 members assigned to the Texas Chapter. As of January 27th we listed 174 members who support the Chapter activities through donations. Sadly, only 20% of the Chapter's general membership.

 

We must increase this level of support if our enhancement goals are met. You, our members, can

make the difference, for the present and future cold water trout fishing in Texas.

        

 

President

Howard Itten