Finally, a good use for cedar in the Hill Country.
In late April, volunteers from Canyon Bass Club, the Boy Scouts of America Troop 133 and local individuals joined staff from the Water Oriented Recreation District of Comal County, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in placing fish-attracting structures into Canyon Lake.
Largemouth bass are the reservoir’s most sought-after sport fish. Historically, catch rates have been poor, and this has been attributed to a lack of suitable structural habitat in the lake. Largemouth bass tend to congregate around underwater structure such as rocks, brush and sunken objects that anglers can locate using fish finders. Where natural structure is scarce or does not exist, fish attractors made from brush or other materials can be placed into a lake to make fish easier to locate and fish for.
A fish attractor project in Canyon Lake was started in January 2005 to help concentrate cover-seeking species like largemouth bass and increase catch rates. Forty-two attractor locations have been installed and furnished with Ashe juniper (mountain cedar) bundles.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department District Fisheries Supervisor Marcos De Jesus said, “These larger-scale conservation projects are made possible through partnerships and community commitment to conservation. When we get a large group formed, these projects become more efficient, and success is inevitable.”
Volunteers provided their labor, trucks, trailers, boats, chain saws, snacks, drinks and good cheer. Some volunteers received service credit for their affiliations with B.A.S.S., the Texas Master Naturalist program and TPWD’s Angler Education program.
Funding for the building materials and lunch was provided by WORD. The trees and access to the work sites were provided by USACE. Selected trees were cut from designated areas, loaded on trailers and hauled to the boat ramp at Canyon Park. The trees were arranged in bundles, zip-tied to cinder blocks and laid out on the boat ramp ready to be picked up by the boat crews.
Tree bundles were then loaded onto the boats and deployed at selected attractor locations spread throughout the reservoir.
Over time trees deteriorate, and the attractor becomes less effective. During the April event a total of 120 tree bundles were used to refurbish habitat at 10 attractor sites. De Jesus said, “These refurbished aquatic habitats will provide excellent fishing opportunities at Canyon Reservoir for everyone. If any person or group wants to participate in lake habitat restoration projects on local lakes, they are encouraged to become a member of Friends of Reservoirs.” The Canyon Bass Club is the local Friends of Reservoirs chapter. See www.waterhabitatlife.org for details.
An updated map and coordinates of the attractor locations will be posted on the TPWD web site: www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/recreational/lakes/canyon/.