Memory Lake Plantings
Galen Jons, Fisheries Biologist
Spring is here! It is that time of the year when a young man's fancy turns to fishing! However, due to the severe drought of the last several years, fishing has taken quite a hit in some of our area reservoirs. Loss of habitat from dropping water levels has all but eliminated several age classes of largemouth bass and sunfish. Other species, such as hybrid stripers, crappie and catfish haven't been hit as hard, but they've still suffered.
Some lakes have been more fortunate than others during this drought.
Memory Lake, for example, has remained relatively stable. Fishing can
be good at Memory Lake, but we (the Texas Parks and Wildife Department
fisheries staff - TPWD) have plans to make it much better. The lake currently
has many small bass, along with all sizes of sunfish, especially bluegill.
Lake Memory is currently lacking quality fish habitat. By that, we
mean aquatic vegetation. Many types of aquatic vegetation can be harmful
to small lakes because they can grow rapidly and take over a small area.
However, there are several plants that won't cause any problems. One of
these is called wild celery Valisneria americana. Wild celery does not
grow very fast so it will not take over a pond or lake, and it provides
excellent habitat for fish as well as insects and other critters. Waterfowl
also love the plants.
We've already planted some wild celery in Memory Lake. If you've been out there since last fall, you've probably noticed some strange-looking round cages in the water. We built those cages and planted the wild celery inside. If we didn't have the cages to protect the plants, they would quickly be eaten by turtles and carp before they had a chance to spread and reproduce. Our hope is to get enough plants to grow so that they can withstand predation by the carp and turtles.
We are also concerned with the lack of nutrients in Lake Memory. Because the lake is relatively infertile, fish are growing slower than in many area lakes. We can increase the nutrients in the lake by adding fertilizer. The fertilizer (mostly nitrogen and phosphorus) will stimulate an increase in phytoplanton and zooplankton (microscopic plants and animals), which in turn will feed insects and minnows. These, in turn, will feed larger fish and drive the whole food chain. This will lead to faster growth rates of fish, and ultimately produce larger fish in a shorter period of time.
We (TPWD) and the City of Coleman plan to fertilize Memory Lake this spring and summer. The only change you may notice this year is a greener color to the water. However, within a year or two, you should start seeing more and bigger bass, sunfish and catfish. Good fishing!
For more information on Lake Memory's fisheries contact:
Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.
5325 N. 3rd
Abilene, TX 79603
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