TPWD Seeks Opinion On Proctor Regulation Changes
Galen Jons, Fisheries Biologist

The Abilene Fisheries Office has just finished their electrofishing survey on Lake Proctor. Electrofishing is a special technique using a boat-mounted generator to put electricity into the water to stun fish for capture. The fish targeted are species such as bass, sunfish and shad. The fish are captured, measured, weighed and most released unharmed. A few bass may be kept for age and growth studies. Data collected from these surveys is used to consider possible management recommendations to make fishing better in a particular lake.

Lake Proctor had gotten severely low over the last two years, with virtually no inflow during that period. Lake Proctor has a very fertile watershed, and the de-watered areas of the lake grew up thick with vegetation and trees. Last winter, the lake finally caught water and actually filled to above conservation level. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the controlling authority for the lake, held that high lake level throughout the spring and part of the summer this year.

In normal years, Lake Proctor is one of the most fertile lakes in Texas. Nutrients that have built up in the watershed over the last two years washed in with floodwaters, and made the lake that much more productive. This fertility leads directly to increased fish growth. Additionally, the vegetation and trees that grew up during the drought are now flooded, and provide important nursery habitat for young fish.

Our data from the Lake Proctor survey indicate an abundance of young juvenile bass, fish that were hatched out this last spring. The growth of these young fish is phenomenol for this area, with most fish ranging in size from seven to eleven inches. The average range for West Texas is closer to four to six inches for age-0 bass. This fast growth also leads us to believe that largemouth bass may reach fourteen inches long by next fall.


The current length limit for largemouth bass on Lake Proctor is fourteen inches. With the fantastic growth we are seeing in this reservoir, we would like to propose a higher minimum length limit to help protect these fish. A higher length limit would extend the expected awesome fishing for a much longer period than the current fourteen-inch regulation. With this in mind, we have a number of alternatives for managing this lake. They are as follows:

1) Fourteen-inch minimum length limit / five fish bag (current) - The lake will have awesome fishing for a year or two, but many of the fish will be harvested before growing to a quality size.
2) Sixteen-inch minimum length limit / five fish bag - The awesome fishing would be extended a year or two.
3) Eighteen-inch minimum length limit / five fish bag - The awesome fishing would be extended a number of years, with anglers catching many quality-sized fish.
4) No minimum length limit / five fish bag, only two fish can be under eighteen inches - This limit is essentially the same as the 18-inch limit, but would allow some harvest. We feel this is a good compromise as it would allow anglers to take a few fish home, and would allow tournament anglers better opportunities, while still protecting fish to provide a quality fishery.

This last alternative is the same regulation that is currently on Lake O.H. Ivie, although for different reasons. The regulation was put on that lake to help fix a problem (slow-growth of fish below eighteen inches). Strangely enough, the same regulation would protect fish in Lake Proctor, leading to quality fishing with an opportunity to harvest some fish in the near future.

We want your opinion! We want to know which alternative anglers would like to see for this lake. It is important that we get this information soon, because we would need to run the regulation changes through our system starting next month in order to get it in place next September. If we don't have a regulation change by then, it probably won't matter, as those then-legal fish will no longer be protected.

Please feel free to contact us by e-mail, snail mail, phone or just drop by - we want your opinion!



Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.
5325 N. 3rd
Abilene, TX 79603
(915) 692-0921

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