No Place Like Home

By Mike Gore, TPWD Fisheries Technician

Fisheries biologists are always trying to enhance lakes to provide excellent habitat for the fish, and improve recreational opportunities for anglers. Lake Conroe has seen its share of habitat enhancement over the years, whether it be by planting native aquatic plants, or treating aquatic invasive species. There is one other type of project that we are working on at Lake Conroe, and that project is establishing artificial reefs, or fish attractors. TPWD College Station/Houston Inland Fisheries District, along with local partners, mainly the Seven Coves Bass Club (local Friends of Reservoir chapter members), and San Jacinto River Authority are working collaboratively, using awarded funding to enhance the fishing

Over the past several years, funding in the amount of approximately $20,000 from the Friends of Reservoirs organization has been awarded to the local Lake Conroe Friends of Reservoir chapter to purchase materials for habitat improvements, or enhancements on Lake Conroe. For this current project, we collectively decided to purchase materials to construct artificial structures to enhance the fishing opportunities for anglers. Texas Parks and Wildlife purchased the materials for the structures, and San Jacinto River Authority graciously allowed construction and storage of the attractors to take place at their SJRA facility behind the Lake Conroe dam. Once all the materials were acquired, TPWD along with SJRA and Seven Coves Bass Club constructed 70 “Georgia” structures. “Georgia” structures are constructed of PVC pipe, and measure 3.5’ x 6.5’ x 3.5’. The structures are then interlaced with 4”x 50’ perforated drain pipe that is attached to the structures using industrial strength, UV resistant cable ties. The structures are then weighed down with four 6” x 8” x 16” cinder blocks. Fourteen locations throughout the lake were selected for deployment of the fish attractors based on previous knowledge of popular fishing locations on the lake. Each site will consist of 5 structures, radiating no more than 3 boat lengths from the given GPS waypoint, in depths ranging from 12’-17’ of water, which will allow them to still be covered with water, even in different low water condition scenarios. So far, half of the attractors have been deployed. Once all the structures are in the water, GPS waypoints will be published for public use.

In 2011, bamboo/pvc combination structures, also known as “spider blocks”, were deployed in 5 areas throughout the lake. Each area measured one square acre, and the “spider blocks” were deployed within that one acre plot. Approximately 50 structures were deployed per site, totaling over 250 structures to enhance the fishery. The waypoints for these sites can be found on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website, https://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/recreational/lakes/fish_attractors.phtml. The purpose of the fish attractors is to provide multiple species of fish with cover to hide or live within, an area in which to ambush food, or just give fish an area to congregate. It provides the fish with a “home” in the lake. The attractors will also give anglers different, permanent areas throughout the lake to fish, which will hopefully increase their chances of harvesting fish.

If you have any questions please contact us at (979) 272-1430 or by email at mike.gore@tpwd.texas.gov or mark.webb@tpwd.texas.gov. Also, visit us on Facebook at https://facebook.com/TPWInlandFisheriesCollegeStationHouston.