Lake Ft. Phantom Hill Fishing Heating Up
Galen Jons, Fisheries Biologist

Here at the Inland Fisheries office of the Texas Parks and Wildlife, part of our job is to survey anglers. These surveys seek to determine how much time anglers spend fishing for a particular species, what they've caught, and generally how much they spend for a day of fishing on a particular lake. We can use this information to determine the health and value of a fishery. It also helps us to touch base with anglers and get their opinions on issues dealing with the fisheries.

We had the opportunity to interview a few anglers this last Saturday (May 4th) out at Ft. Phantom Hill Lake. Not only were many of them catching fish, some were catching a lot of fish! Anglers having the best luck seemed to be those fishing for hybrid stripers and white bass at the lower end of the lake, especially around the spillway cove and near the dam.

One lucky angler fishing from the dam caught a new lake record smallmouth buffalo. This huge fish, caught on a minnow, was 32¼ inches long and weighed 19.5 pounds. We also ran across a young angler who'd caught a huge hybrid striper. Ten-year-old Aric Tate caught his 27", 10.7-pound hybrid striper on a crankbait. We only wish we had a separate record division for youth to honor this magnificent catch. At the least, this outstanding young angler will receive a Big Fish Award.

We also had a new white bass lake record certified last Friday. The lucky angler caught the 14½-inch, 1.3-pound fish on a Pop-R topwater lure.

 

 

Hybrids, white bass and crappie are being caught on everything from crankbaits to minnows. White bass, especially, have come on strong this year. For anglers unfamiliar with white bass / hybrid stripers, identification can be difficult. White bass have one stripe to the tail and one patch on the tongue. Hybrids will have multiple stripes extending to the tail and two patches on the tongue (which may be very close together). There are very few hybrids less than 16 inches long in the lake now, so if you catch a 15-inch or smaller fish, chances are it is a white bass.

Lakes Catching Water
The storms we had Saturday night dropped some much-needed rain in some of our lakes' watersheds. Lake Proctor has risen two feet so far, and Brownwood caught over a foot and a half. Lake Sweetwater has risen nearly a foot, but still remains extremely low. Lakes Abilene and Coleman have both risen four feet, and Lake Winters has come up at least three feet. The runoff that caused severe flooding in Albany a few weeks ago has only raised Hubbard Creek Lake about a foot, so you can see it will take a lot of water to fill some of our lakes. That same flood event, however, did fill Lake McCarty which is southwest of Albany.

We still have a long way to go to fill most of our lakes. The good news is that we have good ground moisture right now, so any significant rainfall in the very near future should produce runoff to help fill our lakes. Bring on the rains!

 

Funding for fisheries surveys and fish stocking is provided by the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program, Project F-30-R of the TPWD Inland Fisheries Division.

     
     

Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.
5325 N. 3rd
Abilene, TX 79603
(915) 692-0921
tpwd1b@sbcglobal.net

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