Interior Lakes Management Plan
Interior Lakes Management Committee
Property Owners Association
April 19, 2008
Background on Lake Management
In the early 1970’s Kings Country was developed, representing the largest subdivision on Lake Cypress Springs. In addition to Lake Cypress Springs (“main lake”), amenities include five small interior lakes, which serve as key aesthetic and recreational assets for property owners to enjoy. They include Lakes Prince, Princess, Andrew, Elizabeth and Dutchess (privately owned). These lakes are all fed by natural springs, which flow for most or all of the year. They represent unclassified waters (i.e., not specifically identified in the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards), which drain to Lake Cypress Springs, classified as segment 0405 (TCEQ 2000).
The known lake management history for the interior lakes is presented in Table 1. It is assumed that after dam construction each of the interior lakes was stocked with largemouth bass and bluegill. The lakes received little if any management until 1999-2000. At that time residents on Lakes Princess and Prince obtained permits from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to stock triploid grass carp to control excessive growths of hydrilla, an invasive aquatic plant. The introduction of grass carp, even at relatively low stocking rates, effectively controlled hydrilla to manageable levels.
In addition to grass carp introductions, residents stocked channel catfish and black crappie into Lakes Prince and Princess. Starting in 2004, fertilization was conducted independently on Lake Prince by an individual resident in an effort to increase forage and bass production. However, because many property owners utilize the resource, it is most appropriate for lake management decisions to be made by committee and to take into account lake management goals of the overall community. Without a coordinated approach, lake management becomes an individual affair with various individuals manifesting their own concepts of lake management. These actions have the potential to be haphazard, ill informed and detrimental to the ecosystems at hand.
Historically, there has been very little in the way of coordinated management of the lakes, and the POA has never established a committee to develop a lake management plan. This is in contrast to the need for a careful, systematic approach to managing the interior lakes in order to maintain their health. As a community, several POA members expressed concerns about the need for coordinated management of the lakes, and requested the board dedicate funds and take active steps toward this goal. This year represents a landmark in that the POA Board recognized the need for a concerted effort to manage the lakes, and appointed the Interior Lakes Management Committee to develop a management plan. Members of the committee (having attended at least one committee meeting) are identified in Table 2.
Prior to the formation of the committee, the POA board commissioned a lake management survey of the interior lakes (excluding Lake Dutchess) by Texoma Hatchery, a lake management consultant from Whitesboro, Texas (Texoma Hatchery 2007). The committee utilized the results of the survey, as well as conducting considerable research of the available literature on lake and pond management. Two committee members participated in a special seminar at the TPWD Athens Fresh Water Fisheries Center on management of private waters in Texas. This information, in addition to the published technical literature, was utilized by the committee in developing this plan, which will result in a coordinated effort to maintain and enhance the health of the lakes over the long-term. The committee will evaluate management needs on an annual basis, adjust the plan based on available data, information and POA input. Each year available funding will be weighed against needs to propose maintenance and/or new actions subject to Board approval. In implementing this plan and future actions, the committee will take into account the POA’s concerns regarding sustainability and cost-effectiveness.
The committee’s mission is to manage our interior lakes to enhance and sustain the health of fish and wildlife resources, while supporting all other uses of the lakes. The goals are to actively manage the lakes, which will include stocking of desirable native fish species, harvest manipulation (removal of stunted populations of bass), installation of automatic feeders, and habitat and wildlife enhancements. Management actions to implement the goals established required deliberation as a committee, but overall agreement was achieved, taking into account costs, ecological considerations and tangible benefits to Kings Country residents.
The committee agreed that the following uses were being met and should continue to be supported: (1) primary contact recreation (swimming); (2) secondary contact recreation (partial body contact, including boating, fishing, etc.); (3) aquatic life propagation (fish and other forms of aquatic life); (4) Wildlife Habitat (maintaining an environment conducive to birds and other wildlife); and (5) Aesthetics (narrative water quality criteria). These uses and criteria are consistent with those established for waters of the state in the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards (TCEQ 2000). Management objectives to meet these uses are not mutually exclusive--some will be interactive, but others will be contradictory (Terrene Institute 2000). All uses of the lakes must be considered when making management decisions. The lakes fall into the category of “private waters” but differ conceptually from typical “farm ponds.” Residents enjoy fishing in the lakes, appreciate the aesthetic value, and enjoy watching the diverse wildlife species they attract, including wading birds, ducks, and birds of prey. The management plan proposed will ensure that water quality and ecological integrity of the lakes will be maintained.
Harvest manipulation is a term used to correct an imbalance by selective removal of certain fish species or size ranges. This plan proposes voluntary measures that will improve the balance of the fishery, including: (1) catch and keep all bass 8-12’’ in length to reduce competition and overabundance of this size range (at least 25 8-12’’ bass should be harvested per acre each year); (2) catch and keep all crappie (crappie have a tendency to overpopulate in small lakes and compete with other predators); (3) catch and release of bass >12” in length in order to improve size structure in the population; and (4) require that individual residents refrain from stocking on their own accord. These recommendations are consistent with guidance from the American Fisheries Society, Texas Chapter (AFS 2005).
The above actions will be communicated to residents through use various mechanisms, including (1) newsletter communications; (2) website posting of recommendations and management actions; (3) word of mouth by committee members; and (4) through a “fish-off day” involving the interested community participants aimed at harvesting undersized bass.
All fish stocking recommendations were developed using widely circulated technical publications available from Texas Agrilife Extension Service and the Texas Chapter of the American Fishery Society (AFS 2005; Masser et al., undated; Higginbotham undated). Stocking measures are proposed to improve the balance between forage and predator species, which should result in improved fishing success. The proposed stocking for 2008 includes: (1) 150 3-5” coppernose bluegill (or redear sunfish, depending on availability) per acre to supplement existing populations and add genetic diversity. (2) 200 threadfin shad per acre to serve as a secondary forage source. (3) 50 10”channel catfish per acre to improve fishing success. All stocking would be completed in the spring of 2008 and reevaluated on an annual basis. Future stocking may include other forage or predator species, replenishing existing species to improve for genetic diversity and to improve fishing success.
Automatic fish feeders serve to supplement natural food sources available to the fishery. This buffers against depletion of natural food sources as fish grow and maximizes fish health and reproduction. Feeding is arguably more environmentally acceptable than fertilization, another means of increasing forage fish production. Fertilization can have ecological effects on water quality, and aesthetic changes (green color due to phytoplankton blooms). The aim of the committee was to ensure that all uses lake management measures would not compromise any uses of the lakes that need to be supported. Use of feeders is a more controlled means of supporting the forage base, without as much risk for water quality and aesthetic effects. A total of five new automatic fish feeders will be installed in the interior lakes, two each on Lakes Prince (one feeder has been in place for several years) and Princess, and one each for Lakes Andrew and No-Name. Feeders will be operated eight months of the year (April through November). Feeders will be programmed to administer feed 8 out of 12 months per year (April-November) at approximately 1 lb./acre/day based on a total of 23.7 lake acres. This feeding rate was equates to an annual estimated cost for feed of approximately $2000/year. This level is minimal based on recommended literature values for supplemental feeding of 3-5 lbs./acre (Bob Lusk, personal communication). However, this rate represents strictly supplemental feeding based on unfertilized stocking rates, and should positively reinforce nutritional health of sunfish and catfish.
The costs for feeding will be shared: lake property owners will pay for new feeders and any repairs and maintenance needed in the future. Kings Country will pay for the cost of feed.
The committee recommends that all fishers complete an Angler Catch Record Chart (see Appendix B, AFS 2005) for each fishing trip. The form will be made available on the Kings Country web site. If this is done consistently, the forthcoming data will be extremely useful in evaluating management measures taken and for planning future management.
A “fish-off” day is proposed whereby POA members will be invited and encouraged to fish on the interior lakes on a designated day. The objective of the event would be to catch and keep as many small bass (6-12” range) and crappie as possible. Committee members would volunteer to coordinate the effort. This has the potential to be a happy family and community event and result in tangible improvements to the fishery. All catches will be recorded on the standard form, which will be made available to participants.
The Interior Lakes Management Committee will meet on an annual basis to review available catch record data and information and take POA input into consideration to formulate recommendations on management measures for the coming year. This will ensure that our lakes are being actively managed and that appropriate steps can be taken to assure ecological health and a viable fishery.
It is common for noxious aquatic vegetation to overtake a lake. Both Lakes Prince and Princess have had historical hydrilla infestation. We are fortunate at this time that hydrilla has been controlled to very manageable levels. Aquatic plants, at manageable densities (<20% total surface area), offer cover and a source of food and oxygen to aquatic organisms. One idea that will be explored on is to plant native species of submerged aquatic plants. Presently the Franklin County Water District (FCWD) is conducting an ecological restoration of Lake Cypress Springs. This has included native vegetative plantings. There is the possibility that the committee could obtain plants at no cost from FCWD for planting in Kings Country interior lakes (David Weidman, personal communication). This possibility will be evaluated with the assistance of FCWD and, if feasible, planting can be carried out using volunteers. There is some uncertainty that such plantings will be successful due to the presence of triploid grass carp in two of the four lakes, and simply because this is the first time this has been attempted. However, potential of planting native aquatic vegetation will be investigated.
Bird life is abundant and serves as an important component of the lakes ecosystem. Another idea that will be explored on a pilot basis is the installation of wood duck nesting boxes. Wood ducks are the only wild duck species that frequently nests in southern Oklahoma and northern Texas. They nest in cavities inside trees, but populations have decreased due to wetlands being drained and forests being cleared. Under certain conditions they will nest in specially designed boxes. They nest in wetland areas with flooded trees and shrubs, herbaceous emergent vegetation, floating aquatic vegetation and open water (Noble Foundation 2002).
Over the next year a total of ten wood duck boxes will be constructed, three each on Lakes Prince and Princess and two each on Lakes Elizabeth and Andrew. The boxes can be purchased commercially, but the committee proposes to construct the boxes at a lower cost. Wood shavings or saw dust must be placed in the boxes for nesting material and the boxes must be maintained and cleaned annually. They need to be observed in late winter and early spring to evaluate use by wood ducks. Once the committee evaluates the potential, perhaps the number of nesting boxes can be increased in the future.
Water quality was sampled for Lakes Prince, Princess, Andrew, Elizabeth and Lake Dutchess as part of the Texoma Hatchery Interior Lakes survey (Texoma Hatchery 2007). A variety of constituents were analyzed. Generally these levels were within the normal range, with the exception of a slightly low alkalinity for Lake Andrew (17-18 ppm as CaC03). Overall, the results do not indicate a need for any special monitoring or management to address water quality. Periodically water clarity will be assessed using a Secchi disk to assess the degree of algal production.
The committee recognizes the need to include certain rules in the covenants and bylaws (KCPOA 2000) to ensure that the lakes are managed by the POA in an organized, systematic fashion. The following provisions will be proposed for addition to the bylaws and covenants to specifically address the interior lakes:
The committee hereby requests a modest annual budget with which to implement and adjust this lake management plan. The committee will meet at least annually to propose recommendations for specific actions for the given year, subject to approval by the board. Each year’s management actions will be documented in a supplement or addendum to the plan, so as to keep an accessible record of all planned and implemented actions. Future management actions will consider but not be limited to fishery management actions.
AFS. 2005. Texas farm ponds: Stocking, assessment and management recommendations. Special Publication Number 1, Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. Revised January 2005.
KCPOA. 2000. Restated declaration of covenants, conditions, reservations and restrictions pertaining to King’s Country Development. 17 pp.
Lock, J.T. Undated. Management of recreational fish in ponds in Texas. Texas Agricultural Extension Service. B-213.
Masser, M.P., D. Steinbach and B. Higginbotham. 1999. Catfish ponds for recreation. Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Texas A&M University. B-1319. June, 1999.
Noble Foundation. 2002. Wood duck nest boxes. website: http://noble.org/Ag/Wildlife/DuckNestBoxes/.
Texoma Hatchery. 2007. Letter to Kings Country POA on fishery survey interior lakes. 6 pp. November 5, 2007.
TCEQ. 2000. Texas surface water quality standards. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Austin, TX. Adopted July 26, 2000.
Terrene Institute. 2000. The lake pocket book. Terrene Institute, Alexandria, VA.
Table 1. Historical information on the interior lakes and actions related to management.
Fish Species Present
Lake Management Chronology (Assuming Initial Stocking of Largemouth Bass and Bluegill in the early 1970s)
Largemouth Bass (?)
*Lake areas were calculated by the Interior Lakes Management Committee.
Table 1. Interior Lakes Management Committee Members.*
Philip Crocker, Chair
Trent Renquist (Board member)
Dwayne Fikes, Facilities Manager
Tom Lee Waterston
*Attended at least one committee meeting in a participatory role.
Threadfin Shad 2000 2000 - - 4000* $250/1000 $1000
Coppernose 810 850 250 460 2370 $0.65 each $1540
Channel Catfish 405 425 125 230 1185 $2.50/lb.** $850
Delivery Charge $200
Total Fish $3590***
Supplemental Feed Total Feed $2310
(23.7 acres x 1 lb/d x
0.40/lb.x 8/12 months/yr. x
Wood Duck Total Materials $300
(10 @ $30/each for
Grand Total $6200
*While the total stocking rate was 3320 fish, the minimum number per sale is 4000.
**3-4 fish per pound (used 3.5 for calculation).
Fisheries Biologist &
Kings Country POA
Dear Kings Country,
Thank you for allowing Texoma Hatchery an opportunity to help manage ponds at Kings Country. It is always exciting for us to meet people that have so much passion for improving ecosystems. Water is a precious resource, the more we take care water, the more people enjoy its’ luxury. Kings Country is a unique home owners association that has very passionate members. We aim to make each lake unique and beneficial to every person that may use the ponds.
We came out on Tuesday October 30th to conduct electro-fishing surveys on four ponds at Kings Country. This was to give us a baseline for what each fishery looked like and to make recommendations on how to improve each fishery. This survey was conducted with help from several people. I want to thank everyone that had a hand in accomplishing our goals. Thanks.
Before we discuss our findings I would like to talk about what we look for in a good fishery. When discussing fisheries management, one thing we always like to go over is the four key concepts of fisheries management. These concepts are basic; each one ties into the others and creates a fishery. Four concepts are: Habitat. Food Chain. Genetics. Harvest. Here’s is a breakdown on why each is important.
First, is Habitat. Habitat is areas where fish live, congregate, breed, eat, survive etc. Different fish species prefer different types of habitat. Largemouth bass, for instance, prefer to live and congregate in areas that have “fluffy” habitat. These areas can consist of fallen tree trunks, brush piles, rocky areas, and drop offs between shallow and deep water. Bluegill, a main baitfish species, are a little different, they prefer habitat that is dense, areas such as cedar trees beneath waters surface or submerged and emergent aquatic vegetation. Different fish need different areas to live in order to be happy and thrive in their environment. Generally over an entire lake we like to see 15-20 % coverage of habitat. Bass also prefer to have underwater “highways” across a lake. These”highways” are located between areas of bluegill habitat. This way bass can cruise across a lake getting meals along the way.
Our second concept is food chain. In order for predator fish, largemouth bass, to grow, you need to have a good food chain. When we conduct a survey, for instance, we like to see some large bluegills, more intermediate fish, and hundreds or thousands of small baitfish. Here is why having a good food chain is important. For every two pounds of food, insects, fish, etc., that a bluegill eats it will gain one pound of mass. That ratio is pretty efficient for baitfish growth. A largemouth bass, however, needs to eat 10 pounds of fish in order to gain 1 pound of fish. Not quite as efficient. It is important to have several different size classes of baitfish and bass. Smaller bass eat baitfish, having different size classes allows bass a variety of sizes of food. It’s like ordering different sizes of value meals at a fast food restaurant. Sometimes you just want a small snack, sometimes you want an extra value meal. Different size classes of baitfish allow bass the opportunity to eat whatever they prefer. Adult bluegills and redear sunfish are brood stock for future generations of fish. Bigger bass prefer to eat smaller bass and medium sized bluegill. A large bass gains more nutrition for less work eating a bass than it does eating an equivalent amount of smaller bluegills.
The third concept is genetics. Unfortunately, after a time in “normal” ponds fish begin inbreeding. Fish interbreed because they are in a confined environment and after a few years, all they mate with brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles etc. Occasionally new “bulls” need to be added to the herd. Right now fish in your pond are in good shape. Right now there are some things that need to be considered before we discuss adding different genetics. I just want to familiarize you with this concept, and let you know that it could become important to add some different genetics in the future.
Our last concept is harvest. A pond is like a garden. You put fish in a pond, let them grow up, and eventually some need to be taken out. This accomplishes several things, including allowing other fish to grow larger, and removing fish before they become stunted. Bass can become overpopulated and growth rates will decline significantly because there is not enough available food. It is a good time to start a harvesting program on many ponds, but we will discuss that more later. For now, I just want to familiarize you with concepts that drive fisheries management.
We also discussed benefits of adding a feeder to your lake. Most lakes
we manage have feeders on them. On
Sweeney feeders come in various sizes, you can get them in 50, 150, or 300 pound capacities and range in prices between $800 and $1200 each, that includes shipping and handling and solar chargers. Different sizes are for use frequency, i.e. if you plan on being out there every few weeks then go with smaller version, if it might be a couple of months between visits go with a larger model. If you want to take a look at their product line go to www.sweeneyfeeders.com and check it out. Just know that since we are a dealer we get them for a discount and that the retail price is not the price that you will be charged. We also recommend using Purina Game Fish Chow or Purina Aquamax for production fish. Purina Game Fish Chow has been specifically designed for bluegills and offers the best nutrition for those species.
There are several different management strategies that can be taken for each pond at Kings Country. We can manage one for big bass, one for a lot of fish, one for catfish, one for big bluegills. There are several options. From our discussion we talked about several different desires for each pond. All I can say is that anything is possible.
Let’s now discuss our findings and talk about some management
obvious from our findings that some thought and care has been taken in managing
this lake. Fish, bass and baitfish, in
This graph shows length and weight ratios versus a norm. Dots above the “norm” line indicate fish that are above average weight for their length, while those below are the opposite. Fish are very close to the norm line, this means that fish are very healthy and getting plenty to eat. Relative weights are close to 100%, this means that each fish well fed. All this is due directly to management strategies that have taken place over the past few years.
we come across situations where we lobby that some harvest regimen should begin
on lakes we survey. This is not the case with
Elizabeth was an interesting pond. It is fairly small but has good access close to dam. This lake had quit a few bass, but they were all very small, so small that they did not register on our scales. We sampled 21 bass, only 3 of which were large enough to weigh. There were some very nice bluegill sampled. This leads to creating a very nice bluegill fishery, by adding a feeder and keeping bass numbers in check we can create a trophy bluegill fishery where we can grow some monster bluegill that would be very entertaining to catch, especially with a fly rod, or for children. Here’s a look at our data:
Even bass sampled were small and under our “norm” line. I would still recommend fertilizing next spring and adding tilapia to take pressure off bluegills.
Here would be our recommendations for all lakes. Add tilapia again next spring, and fertilize. Fertilizing helps in several ways. Most importantly fertilizing promotes a plankton bloom. Plankton is microscopic plants and animals that live within a water column. Plankton is the lowest level on a food chain, when we have good plankton growth it sets up the rest of an ecosystem to be very productive. Also a plankton bloom helps to decrease aquatic vegetation growth. Aquatic vegetation needs sunlight to grow; by creating a plankton bloom we can shade out light and keep aquatic vegetation at bay. Fertilizing occurs early spring of each year. We have to wait until water temperatures are sustained above 59ºF. Usually this occurs around March 30th each year.
Here’s some initial cost that can be used to budget for:
There are approximately 40 acres of water at Kings Country. Fertilizing will cost around $15.00/acre, plus application. To fertilize all of water at Kings Country can be done for around $750.00.
Tilapia can be purchased from us: we sell them for $10.00/pound. We usually recommend stocking 20 pounds per acre. So:
40 acres @ 20 pounds per acre 800 pounds of Tilapia @ $10.00 per pound = $8000.00
will greatly increase fish production. There is already one feeder on
5 Sweeney feeders @ $800.00 each $4000.00
This would be a great starting point for ponds at Kings Country. We will be in contact to follow up on these recommendations and see how you would like to proceed. If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to contact me. I can be reached several ways including, (903)564-5372 (office) (903)651-1429 (mobile) or firstname.lastname@example.org.