As Lake Richland-Chambers continues to age, the dynamics
of the lake change quite rapidly. A great deal of
the large timber in the lake has fallen, opening the
lake up for all to see it's enormous size as Texas'
3rd largest inland lake. Additionally, as is common
on most fairly new reservoirs, R-C has seen tremendous
increases in the volume of aquatic vegetation or what
some refer to as "moss".
For the most part, hydrilla, pondweed and star grass
are native to Texas waters. Once an impoundment "settles"
so to speak, these grass begin to appear in areas
conducive to their growth. Unfortunately, however,
some of these areas that promote the growth of these
and other vegetations are the same areas people elect
to build homes, boat docks and other structures commonly
found near our lakes. The grasses can then become
a huge problem for the owners of these lake fixtures.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has statistical
data showing that lakes with an adequate amount of
aquatic vegetation lend themselves to becoming popular
fishing lakes, especially for bass fishing. This vegetation
plays a vital role in the recruitment of our fish
species. In other words, once fish eggs hatch in the
presence of these grasses, the baby fish have a better
chance of survival because they have a place to hide,
thus increasing their recruitment rate.
By the same token, eggs that are hatched in areas
without grass tend to be at a greater risk of predation
resulting in a lower recruitment rate, which means
lower numbers of fish. Richland-Chambers experienced
this condition just a few short years ago according
to TPWD biologist Richard Ott.
Along with electro-shock surveys of fish populations
on the lake each year, TPWD also surveys the amount
of vegetation in a given body of water and scores
it. Over the past few years, R-C has seen an increase
of aquatic vegetation of over 400%. For anglers, this
has resulted in a good increase in numbers of catch
able fish in the lake. On the other hand, it has meant
increased problems for landowners around the lake.
The big question here is: How can both parties be
happy about the presence of aquatic vegetation in
our lake? Of course, if I knew the answer to that
I could probably become very wealthy. Bottom line,
I don't think there is a good answer available.
To eradicate all vegetation in a lake would be disastrous
in many ways. Since the grasses found in our lakes
serve as a natural filtration system for the body
of water in question, the removal of all grass in
a lake could result in poor water conditions. Other
governing bodies of lakes have tried this approach
only to discover that when the sprayed or used grass
eating fish to remove all of the grass in the lake,
the fishing quickly turned south.
Since there were few places for small fish to hide,
they got eaten up by the larger fish. Remember what
you learned in science regarding the dinosaurs? Once
the food supply was gone and they ate all of their
young, they died and so did their existence. The same
happened on the lakes that removed all of the grasses.
The negative economic impact of a large lake like
R-C loosing its fishing and fishing related income
is staggering. Just ask the folks that owned businesses
such as gas stations, motels, restaurants, etc. around
Lake Conroe several years ago, just to site one example.
Homeowners and property owners around the lake have
tried, with limited success, to control the grass
problems around their properties. Unfortunately for
them, with the exception of total eradication (which
would still only last a few years) there is no simple
answer available. TPWD and other governmental agencies
can assist property owners by pointing out ways to
manage the grass problem around their property.
By keeping sight of the fact that there is not a good
total solution for either side of this issue, we can
all work together to exist in harmony with the situation.
Until next time, enjoy the great outdoors.
For more information or to contact Tom, visit him